The Discovery of True Happiness
Many people spend most of their life searching for happiness. We, as humans, are constantly grasping for things that we think will make us happy. We know that happiness is important, but we don’t really think about why. The truth is, if we are happy, we have meaning in our lives, and we have a reason to pursue things. Happiness gives us motivation, drive, determination, and whatever else applies to you. Now, however, the real question is, are we happy? As of right now, the majority of us have not found happiness. There are bits of pleasure, bits of satisfaction, but we are not truly happy. However, I believe that we can get there. As Viktor Frankl states in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human’s freedom--to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” We have the ability to be happy, but it will take some effort. If we are going to find true happiness in our lives, we must create strong social relationships, improve ourselves while achieving greater things, and seek happiness without the cost of suffering.
Social acceptance is a key ingredient of happiness. Back when we were doing the socialization project, we learned about social classes. What social class you are in can affect your level of happiness. For example, social outcasts may not be as happy as someone who has a lot of friends and is constantly interacting with other people. By having many friends, people can feel happier, as said in the documentary film Happy. In the movie, several families in Denmark were shown living together in a co-housing system. All of the people in the household were very happy; they enjoyed having interactions with other people. One woman said that she felt it was better to live with people outside of your family. This just goes to show that meeting people and making friends will improve a person’s level of social acceptance, as well as their happiness. Both interaction with friends and social acceptance are very important, and without it, happiness can be very difficult to achieve.
Self-improvement is also a very important ingredient in happiness. The feeling of growth or achievement can give us a great amount of pleasure. As shown in the documentary Happy, the feeling of growth makes people feel like they are in control. It can also help them forget anything bad that is going on in their lives. When troubling things are put out of mind, anxiety levels will go down, and happiness may follow. Another example is from my own life. I play the drums in a band. Some of the songs we play have very difficult drum parts, especially when we are first learning them. It always takes a lot of time and effort to perfect these parts, but the sense of achievement I get whenever I successfully play through a song makes me feel happy and content. Focusing on improving my skills takes my mind off other things, like school or other work that I have to do, and contentment usually follows. Whenever something difficult is achieved, or we improve ourselves in some way, we are able to reach happiness.
Finding the meaning for our existence gives us satisfaction in our lives, and when we are satisfied, we can find true happiness. Part of our satisfaction is to find meaning and purpose in our lives. In the article There’s More to Life than Being Happy, it is pointed out that meaning in our lives gives us endurance. In the article, Viktor Frankl says that “if someone can discover the ‘why’ for his existence, they can withstand almost any ‘how.’” The article also tells of Frankl’s experiences with people in a concentration camp who were starting to give up hope. He said that “it was a question of getting them to realize that life was still expecting something from them.” Reading this, I realized that people who believe that they can still fulfill something greater in their lives will remain more dedicated and resilient to suffering. In the movie I Am, one of the people being interviewed brings up the side of happiness that is associated with material things. He pointed out that we are taught that buying things will bring us happiness, but no one ever asks “Will this make me happy?” I see this everywhere in my own life. People tend to just rush into things without thinking it through. They are so busy searching for happiness, they don't put any thought into what will actually make them happy. If we can slow down, think about ourselves, and find satisfaction in our lives, we can finally reach happiness.
It is not something we think about often, or at all for that matter, but the price of happiness is higher than you think. In the short story The Ones who Walk Away from Omelas, everyone is happy. All the people are full of joy and happiness. However, there is one child who is miserable and is kept in a basement. Everyone knows it is there, but nothing is done about it. This child is the only one who suffers. As barbaric as it seems, this makes sense. If we are going to have happiness, there must be some sort of suffering to act as a comparison, be it our own suffering, or someone else’s. The society in the story, and our society, are willing to sacrifice the happiness of some people so that the majority of the civilization will be happy. Towards the end of the story, some of the people leave the city. They do not know where they are going, or if they are going to make it there, but they leave. Reading this, I finally understood that they leave because they can not stand the idea that someone is suffering just so they can be happy. In fact, they would rather risk their lives than live in that way. Is there a way for us to walk away from our society without giving up what we have? When viewed this way, our society seems much darker. Is there a way for us to change it without losing everything?
So why is it so important for us to examine how to achieve happiness? As a society, we are constantly searching for happiness. We are willing to do crazy things if we think they will make us happy. However, we don’t always know what we’re doing. We never think about what would make us happy, we just do things and hope for the best. Too often, we end up disappointed, and ultimately, remain unhappy. If we begin to think about what we’re doing and if it will make us happy, we will start to see what is actually valuable to us. We can stop wasting our time searching for happiness in things that don’t really matter. We may even find that happiness does not come from big, strenuous activities. It may come from something smaller, like holding the door open, or treating your friends to lunch. Happiness can be found every day, we just need to know where to look.
1. If I were to tell someone how to find happiness, I would tell them to think about themselves. As humans, we spend lots of time just searching for things we think will make us happy. However, a lot of the things we do don’t actually bring us happiness. My advice would be to think deeply about yourself and what makes you, as an individual, happy. What makes someone happy doesn’t even have to be something important; what makes you happy all depends on you. If you just slow down and think about what you enjoy, you are on your way to finding happiness.
2. My plan for the summer is to reach a deeper understanding of my happiness. I learned a lot about meaning and happiness from this project, and I want to be able to apply it to my own life. I will also begin to use a strategy I developed throughout this project to find more happiness. I will slow down and really think about what makes me happy, as well as how I can achieve that goal. I look forward to being able to apply what I learned from this project, and see how it affects me.
3. This article really surprised me. I recently acquired an iPhone, and I had never would have thought that it could cause me to feel unfulfilled. As I thought about this, I realized that I do spent a fair amount of time messing around on my phone. Over the summer, as I am finding my own happiness, I will also focus on only using my phone when I need it. After seeing the results of the article, I believe that this plan will help me feel happier.
4. I think that a lot of the things I learned in this project will stay with me for a long time. For example, I will always remember what I heard in the TED Talks I watched. Not only did I learn how to find more meaning and happiness, but I also learned the science behind it. I will also try to apply the things I learned to my own life. I actually find the subject of happiness very interesting, and I would like to learn more about the science behind it.