There is More to Life than Happiness – part 1

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me happiness is the key to life. When I went to school they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Often we see the above anecdote to have been attributed to John Lennon, while further research on the internet reveals that no interviews etc link it back to the musical superstar. So the mystery of whose anecdote this is remains as much as the mystery of happiness in our lives.

In recent times, there has been this trend of ‘being happy’. I call it a trend not to belittle the idea of happiness but because, these days everything is ‘trending’. If isn’t then nobody is talking about it. Hence, on all sorts of forums especially the ‘how to’ community has been nurturing the idea, the importance of happiness in an individual’s life.  Happiness is the key. All you need is happiness, being happy increases mortality. Research also shows that positivity and happiness are stimuli for a longer life.

Baby clothes, adult clothing lines, mugs etcetera are being sold with quotes on happiness. It is as if happiness is now merchandise. As consumers we are hungry for things that would make us happy and so we buy them one after the other in hopes of finding happiness. We wear and use things that boldly state ‘I m happy’. We bear one child after another hoping that the next one will bring us luck and happiness. We spent money on education, aspiring to be successful one day and become happy. We have motivational speakers all around us giving talks and workshops on how to be happy. It has not only become merchandise but also a skill. We feel the need to polish it; we feel the urgency to find it, sometimes within us and sometimes around us. For most of us we have always understood that in order to be happy, one has to have a certain kind of education, money, children, books, food to truly experience joy.

One way of looking at the whole concept of “being happy” to lead a good life is to prevent people from fall into the trap of depression. But could happiness alone keep us alive in the true sense?

According to World Happiness Report 2017, Pakistan ranked 80 out of 155 countries, leading ahead of India with 32 positions. As mentioned on the world happiness website, countries are scored on the happiness index based on GDP per capita, social support where people have a support system in times of trouble, healthy life expectancy, and freedom to make life decisions, generosity, and trust measured in terms of corruption in government and business. In light of this, we are being assessed and we assess others in terms of economic and social well being. The question remains on what level should happiness be determined?

to be continued…

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