The Happy Illusion
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 00:04
When we consider what is most important to us all, each story of man we follow from any time period ultimately leads to the same goal: seeking true happiness. The underlying motive of life for any being remains constant throughout.
It is extremely interesting to observe how happiness, its measure, nature, and power can play such an immense role in our lives. The general trend seems to be that those who attain happiness lead more pleasurable lives and those who do not end up wallowing in despair trying to find it. Why do we seek happiness in the first place? What is in its nature that draws us to it repeatedly, over countless centuries? These are the questions an ascetic ponders in absolute solitude. We may never know the answers to these questions. However, there is an identifiable difference between true happiness and the "happy illusion" most of us live under.
The three major aspects that constitute our general consensus of happiness are money, beauty, and power. These entities also largely define "success" in mainstream society. Numerous influences on our lives determine that these are the methods by which we can happiness. Money is happiness, some say. The ability to live extravagantly with all the comforts in the world, to reach the pinnacle of success by money-making is the path to happiness many follow. This leads one to wonder if the ability to live extravagantly without any care in the world is the secret to happiness, then why does a money-making genius like Warren Buffett live in relative simplicity? Realistically, since few of us are like Mr. Buffett, what happens to the man who becomes seemingly rich and realizes he isn't happy? Well, his natural tendency is to 'try harder'. He continuously puts in effort to accumulate more riches and assumes he will ultimately find happiness.
Others believe happiness lies in physical beauty. Despite several attempts to undermine the importance of physical beauty, it still remains an important, sought-after entity of human society. The advent of fashion, the makeup industry, and various fitness regimes all constitute the craze for physical beauty which is believed to lead to happiness. Whether this beauty is sought to attract and attain the opposite sex or to boost one's own self-esteem depends on the situation. Yet it cannot be denied that this method to achieve happiness is at-large globally. Since they believe physical beauty leads to happiness, these people will try to stay young and beautiful forever and such impossibility has already tried to be conquered by innovations such as cosmetic surgery. Ultimately, Mother Nature wins and truth prevails; all physical beauty eventually fades. By the end, it is realized that no happiness has been found, but it is too late.
The last aspect we encounter is power. Power has a high correlation with success. If we consider for a moment that power is the ability to successfully carry out one's intentions, we observe that the world's greatest leaders, celebrities, and basically anyone who can influence have all attained this definition of success. The pivotal question remains: has happiness been attained through this acquisition of power? It is important to note that power can range immensely, from an employee trying to land a promotion to conquering the world like Alexander. Both believe they will attain success and therefore that happiness will shortly ensue. This however, is not how it plays out because tomorrow the newly promoted employee will embark on achieving the next promotion and people like Alexander will surely set out to conquer another world after obtaining the first.
All three of these detailed aspects fall under the "happy illusion" of the 21st century. Notice the vicious cycle all three of these lead to once failure to achieve happiness inevitably results. What about individuals who try to obtain all three: money, beauty, and power? It is only human to assume that the combination of all three to ensure at least a stable form of happiness. What we fail to realize here is that happiness is not quantifiable. Therefore, we are no closer to obtaining it by combining all three than we were before. This leads us to believe that there must be another way through this incredibly frustrating pursuit of happiness. Fortunately, there is another way.
According to Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., happiness is a choice. Through his research it is explained how essentially by maintaining an optimistic attitude, we are making the conscious decision to reap happiness in our lives. Mr. Achor explains how we can obtain happiness through relatively simple daily exercises such as exercising for ten minutes a day, or even writing down three things we are grateful for every day. His research revealed how this ‘chosen happiness,’ in effect, can measurably raise productivity, health and quality of life.
The answer we have been desperately seeking is amazingly simple. If we live life with a more positive outlook, not only do we obtain happiness, but we raise our productivity, which will probably lead to a raise (more money), better health and increased radiance (more beauty), and total improved quality of life (more power). As a society we have been seeking happiness from the inside out. The time has come for us to realize that "true happiness lies within you” and allow ourselves to be happy by simply choosing it.