Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

an experiment

I name this post an ‘experiment’ for want of a better title! But yes, it did involve an experiment. I am bored with my way of writing and wanted to see how some one else would say the same things in a different way. And one friend readily obliged to ‘edit’ my post. 10 points to any one who identifies the style. Now for the post..

“It’s been a brilliant journey of self-awakening. And now you’ve simply got to ask yourself this: What is happiness to you, David?” from Vanilla Sky (2001)

Except for the Sri Sri, who thinks chasing happiness only leads to unhappiness, and this friend of mine who actively seeks pain, everyone seems to desire happiness. I think Sri Ravishankar might have a point, though.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Development) is an organization that conducts conferences which have talks by people from a widely varied set of people who are experts in their fields, talks that are aimed at the scientifically literate layman. This particular series of talks deals with the pursuit of happiness. As is usual with TED, there were many points of view – scientific, spiritual, philosophical and, perhaps not least importantly, tongue-in-cheek!

The talk by Dan Gilbert was particularly interesting. His hypothesis is disconcerting and yet seems to confirm what one already suspects. He says:

Happiness can be synthesized. Whats more, this synthetic happiness is every bit as real and enduring as the kind of happiness one stumbles upon when one gets exactly what she is aiming for.

The talk, in fact, piqued my interest enough that I thought I’d get some first-hand data myself. I asked a bunch of my friends what the emotion they associate most closely with happiness is. The reasoning was this: a plausible route to happiness is: Desire – effort – success – contentment – happiness. ‘Contentment’, for example, was the most common reply I got. I think it makes sense to ask if this is the only ‘route’ to happiness. Perhaps not – a free meal or good weather may make one happy as well.

In which case, we should ask if there is a ‘better way’ to achieve happiness; Or if the same ‘route’ will lead to happiness every time. (Would you be happy mooching off somebody else every day?) Adventure, pleasant memories, compliments, etc make people happy too. Perhaps paradoxically, is it possible that happiness lies in the pursuit of something rather than in the goal itself?

I read somewhere, that you need to desire happiness to be happy. And this is so true. We are as happy as we want to be. When people are unhappy, they do not always synthesize happiness. A lot of times, they would rather prefer to stay unhappy for whatever time. Is it true then, that we don’t wish to be happy all the time? That while being contented makes one happy, sometimes there is contentment in being unhappy? My point is that discontentment probably isn’t always a bad thing.

[The lines of ‘Phir Dekhiye’ from Rock On!, that deal with discontentment]:

Aankhon Mein Jis Ke Koi To Khwaaab Hai

Khush Hai Wahin Jo Thoda Betaaab Hai

Zindagi Mein Koi Arzooo Kijiye

Phir Dekhiye


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