On what makes us happy.
I watched Breakfast TV today.
The presenter voiced one of those searching questions. It was not one of those questions where the station receives ten thousand answers, cherry-picks three or four that legitimize the desired point of view, and then claims overwhelming public support for an opinion the station held, but didn’t have the guts or legal approval to give.
This was a good question; a question that I partially addressed in Flying with Cuckoos.
It asked, what makes people truly happy?
Ask people what makes them happy, and you will get a wide variety of answers: love, money, fame, success at work, a solid relationship, a good book, a walk in the countryside, a beautiful girlfriend, a good-looking boyfriend, a fast car, a designer handbag. All these, and an infinite number of other answers, will inevitably spew forth. But are these true happiness factors, or merely reflections of circumstance?
You see, I believe lasting happiness is nothing to do with any of that. I believe that lasting happiness is all to do with contentment, and contentment is often to do with being realistic.
You don’t agree? Well, O.K. then, remember the little fat boy at school, the lonely one with the McDonalds’ quantity discount card and raging acne; the one everybody sniggered at and did their utmost to avoid. When he was at school, longingly admiring some precocious Lolita with long blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and a proud rear end, he couldn’t have been more miserable. He would have secretly both adored and hated her and all of her fickle and vindictive friends when they scoffed at his tubby unattractiveness and laughed at his clumsy infatuation.
He would have failed just as miserably on the football field, or the athletics track, or in the gymnasium, and he would have both envied and hated the other boys for their superior abilities and cruel contempt for his pitiable athleticism. And, as he trudged home at the end of each long and painful day, he would have hated himself for his perception of failing in that which truly matters to athletic young studs and precocious Lolitas alike.
But then, look again at that same little fat boy, years later, when realism’s harsh and invaluable lessons have been learnt. No more does he dream of precocious Lolitas. He may glance and imagine, because that is part of mankind’s fun in living, but the pain of unrealised desire has gone. You see, he gained reality. He married unfancied Penelope, from the cooked meats counter at the local supermarket, and he achieved peace of mind.
Now he has a loving wife, a devoted mother, and a caring family to return to each night, and although being married to unfancied Penelope may not in itself generate envy, over the months and years he has come to understand that the admiration and envy of other men is not always in itself to be envied.
Nor does he any longer attempt to compete in the sporting arena, because he now sees such competition for what it truly is; a momentary entertainment for the masses, and a failure waiting to happen for the fleetingly-triumphant gladiators.
And so, instead of heading off in search of fickle triumph, he hurries home to the ample bosom of a loving family; therein discovering his true self, and lasting contentment.
You see, our little fat boy has achieved something special since those lonely days at school. He stopped grasping for the unobtainable, replaced envy’s malcontent with realism’s peace of mind, and discovered lasting happiness.
Anyway, that’s about it for this post. . . I’m off to see how far my books have climbed on Amazon’s best-seller listings.