The goal of all goals is happiness.
For humans, or animals, or any living creature, seeking happiness is a universal truth. Although all know this intuitively, what is unknown is the levels of happiness.
And your choice of happiness will decide your life’s destiny.
1. For many, happiness is just a Nice Feeling
For those, having this view of happiness, it does not matter where and how the feelings come about.
The criterion is not the source of feeling or its effect, but the quality of the feelings. If feelings are nice, go for it.
If entertainment or any bizarre action stirs nice feelings, just do it. If drugs and alcohol induce nice feelings, consume it. If watching pornography and illicit sex surges erotic feelings, why not?
But there is a deep, dangerous problem with this view of happiness.
—Nice feelings do not guarantee a nice life:
You can have all the ‘nice feelings’ and still be unhappy. The happy nice feelings temporarily cover up the deep anxieties of real problems in life.
Nice feelings do relieve the heavy stress of the real problems of life but does not solve the problem itself. So, the stress reappears and lingers on.
In essence, nice feelings are nothing but a temporary distraction.
—Nice feelings do not secure your future:
Nice feelings do not help you accomplish your goals. Do not help you live a good life.
Without achieving your goals and solving the real problems of life, what then is the meaning of such happy nice feelings?
— Nice feelings are sensual and aimless:
They are felt at the level of mind.
Since animals live on this level of happiness, it is called Animalistic happiness. And those who live by this view of happiness lead an animalistic life.
Like animals, then, this happiness is uncontrolled and undirected. It can lead to
dangerous drug addiction, psychopathic conditions, physical and mental disorders, narcissism, chaos and civil disorder.
Do we want to call such disturbing happiness a true happiness?
2. For others, happiness is Joy
Unlike feelings, Joy is ‘a high’ but not completely unrelated to the rest of the life and not dangerous.
There are many little but important things in life. Like your car. Or maybe, your puppy. They are linked to your lives and you are linked to them by attachment. You care for them. You live with them. They don’t produce just some mundane fleeting feelings, but a perpetual Joy.
Joy is felt at the level of mind and intelligence and is therefore higher than mere nice feelings.
But the question is — Is that happiness?
At certain level, maybe!
But there is a problem.
—Joy is superficial:
Although not aimless, Joy is not accompanied with deep thinking and a solid goal. And any happiness without a goal and deep thinking must end in frustration or, at best, in boredom after some time.
‘Joy’ therefore cannot be true happiness, for true happiness never fades away or ends in boredom.
3. For masses, happiness is Cheerfulness
Cheerfulness is a mood of ‘positivity’ and affirmation to life even in the mist of real-life problems.
Cheerfulness demands a light mood and, of course, a smile!
- Cheerfulness is peculiar American mentality. It is born of American liberty, where freedom of individual speech and freedom to act is valued above all laws and the individual is responsible for his own happiness.
- As America started to boast of its liberal ideals, Americans in turn began to artificially remain happy in order to avoid disrespect in a free society.
- The British traveler Francis Joseph Grund wrote in 1837 that an American would seldom complain because “In a country built upon the assumption that everyone should pursue their happiness, failure to achieve that happiness lost one the respect of the others and no one dared to show himself an exception to the rule.
- ”And after industrial revolution, cheerfulness came in a big way.
- With industrialization a middle working class appeared. But the pressure of consumerism and competition, made their work highly stressed. To relieve this pressure, people automatically gravitated towards the mood of American cheerfulness. Media hyped it by always showing smiling faces. And the corp orates saw a profit in training their employees in cheerfulness. The stage was set.
- Today, cheerfulness has become the norm of the modern American lifestyle.
But there are problems:
—Cheerfulness produces idiots:
‘Many people in the world — Europeans, Asians, Africans, and others — see this American façade as idiotic,’ says Dr. Robert C. Solomon, Professor of Business and Philosophy at the University Texas, Austin.
He adds, ‘For most people outside America, life is a serious business.’
Ellen Willis, a famous New York Journalist and activist, carried a critical analysis of America in the ’90s. And what she found was counterintuitive.
She titled her book “Don’t Think, Smile.”
The book showed that American cheerfulness is a denial of the political and social realities. Cheerfulness is making Americans careless and irresponsible, and sad and frustrated from within.
—Cheerfulness operates primarily at the level of false ego:
It is a higher form of happiness than mere nice feelings and superficial Joy that functions at mental and intellectual levels. Consequently, to see its folly and break its illusion is most difficult.
—Cheerfulness does give a feeling of happiness and optimism but also feeds the false ego.
Cheerfulness does not allow one to admit the real problems of life and to seek for help. The anxieties and stress thus corrode from within, leading to physical and mental ailments like blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, schizophrenia.
If nice feelings are dangerous, cheerfulness is deceivingly dangerous!
4. The topmost level of happiness is True Happiness
True happiness is not based on some fleeting nice feelings, superficial joy, or idiotic cheerfulness.
True happiness is based on a solid ground of peace and satisfaction.
Peace comes from abandoning selfish desires.
And satisfaction from perceiving the defects of previous three levels of happiness and experiencing the happiness beyond mind, intelligence and false ego, a happiness felt at the level of soul.
Without satisfaction, there is no peace. And how can one be happy without peace?
This then is true happiness.
It is eternal, like the spirit soul. It is beneficial, bringing peace and satisfaction among people. It is completely satisfying, since upon gaining it there is no other greater gain.
Aim for true happiness. Share it with others. This is human life. True life with true happiness!