Happiness... that can have so many nuanced meanings.
Personally I am absolutely open to happiness, laughter, love, friendship, good times, fond memories, sunshine, flowers, holidays, and all that jazz. I
can enjoy the little things. However... in the grand scheme of my life I am quite unhappy.
There is an internal and an external side to this. The internal is that I feel as if I lack many options in life. Sure everybody LOVES to tell my
generation (I'm 24) that we can do ANYTHING we want, happiness is a CHOICE, you can have anything if you MAKE IT HAPPEN, but the reality is typically
quite different and not so triumphant. I don't know a SINGLE PERSON who has successfully employed the mental BS you hear in self-help books (usually
written by rich people who want to get richer on book sales AND/OR who are sick of feeling helpless about the state of the world AND/OR they're just
sick of poor people bitching). I feel like I've been lied to, perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally, perhaps both. I feel like, even being a
very smart and conscientious person, nobody's going to help me out and I have to fight my way to the "top" (whatever the hell that means). I see
many people forced to feel the same. And yes, contrary to what self-help gurus (with hardly any actual education on human behavior/society) tell us,
society CAN have a coercive effect on people in both direct and indirect ways, both obvious and barely noticeable. Essentially... what sucks is being
poor and not having a large/healthy/strong support network of people to function as an egalitarian community. People are depressed about this because
it's a serious lacking. I'm not saying money is the answer, I'm saying that feeling SECURE is the answer. And even Americans, being richer than
most of the rest of the world's poor, still don't feel secure in what they have and where they're headed... or at least I dont yet. The worst part
about it is, Americans are so satiated by intense (but temporary) material luxuries, gluttony, and spectacles that our oppression and depression is
attacked by this guilt of superficiality. So, not only are we oppressed in the deeper ways, but we're prevented from complaining about it because we
have so many superficial luxuries and we are told that that SHOULD BE enough for us to be happy. But as we all know, happiness is not material
possessions, happiness is having your needs met, some of your reasonable wants met, and most importantly- having a loving/supportive community that
helps us become better people without coercing us. I feel like I'm going in circles... but the bottom line is, in order for modern people to be
secure, they must work and toil at some arbitrary job for most of their lives to receive arbitrary currency which is then funneled back into the
system via arbitrary consumerism. We evolved to live in easy-going tight-knit tribes in the wilderness, not massive centralized
techno-capitalist-worker-consumer hives. We will not simply "evolve" to live within the society we've been born into... that's not how evolution
works. What we have is a society that, in too many ways, fights the currents of human-nature and the environment and bends them towards a mindless and
ambiguous agenda that isn't ULTIMATELY controlled by any person or group but more so represents a runaway civilization carrying all of us along for
Regardless of the inevitability of this system at this point, it is still regrettable and even unacceptable, and at the very least an obvious systemic
explanation for most of our social anxieties, depressions, neuroses, insecurities, and so on. There seem to be too many people and too few resources,
both physical and social, to go around. This leaves a great too many left struggling endlessly for water, food, shelter, safety, health, money, love,
happiness itself, dominance, control, acceptance, recognition, community, etc. And with no other good/obvious options, people can turn to some pretty
bad things to fill those needs. Our society forces too much competition within anonymous crowds of people we dont know... sort of like an economic
Gladiator pit. Then when we come home, we remain in that mindset, drained from it, time stolen by it, and therefore unable to develop and maintain
many deep and strong relationships even with close family, significant others, children, LET ALONE an entire tribe/community. I'm not saying this is
the rule for everybody, even myself. I have deep/loving/supportive relationships (partially because I have opened myself up to them). But in many
ways, and in many places, we've lost the ability to provide for ourselves adequately/consistently and as a group without so many forces breaking
things apart and creating a constant lonely struggle. The more money you have the more this struggle gets its edges softened or erased, but for the
vast majority those edges cut every day; and even money doesn't fulfill deeper human needs.
I went off on a huge tangent and I apologize if any of that was too verbose, repetitive, or poorly explained, but I'm kind of ranting anyway, and in
a world so globalized, interwoven, amplified, and historic as this, it all ties together. When we address human happiness we must think holistically
on local/global/internal/external/individual/interpersonal levels, otherwise we're being inaccurate and anecdotal.
This isn't to say there aren't many beautiful things in the world right now, both natural and man-made. This is both a wondrous and terrifying time
to live in and we MUST allow ourselves to enjoy as much as we can while we work to change whatever we're unhappy with. I love and am inspired by many
things in this world, as I'm sure you all are in your own ways.
Ultimately I think happiness is having the freedom/opportunity/time/security to do essentially what you want to do with your life, with the vast
ability to enjoy the simple things without worry, as well as having the purpose of people you can support and be supported by in a loving/positive
Wouldn't that be nice?