Happiness is a state of fullness which is both pleasant and satisfying. This lack of concern is so familiar and yet so rare in some cases. In an age where cynicism reigns, and where stress is an integral part of our lives, happiness seems more and more difficult to achieve. How do we do it? How can we manage to cultivate happiness and at what price?
Human beings are in the pursuit of happiness from the first breath of life. Instinctively, one quickly understands that we must meet the basic needs, such as breathing, drinking, eating, sleeping, shelter, protect and breed (for some) to have access to happiness. Once these conditions are met and, of course, with a positive individual psychology and a small dose of optimism, happiness is within everyone’s reach.
A plethora of philosophers, scientists and writers have been pursuing the issue of the tyranny of happiness, trying to discover the magic formula that would provide access to it, because man cannot bear to be unhappy. Do we experience happiness through personal enrichment, objects that we consume or accumulate, enriched self-esteem, the travel we do, friendships that we maintain, romantic relationships that we develop or it is an art that we can master?
A growing number of people are coming to the conclusion that the civilization in the West is more materially rich but, paradoxically, less and less happy. What’s missing there, then? Is this the phenomenon of spoiled child, who gets what he wants but goes on complaining?
Is it possible that man confuses pleasure, escape, thrill with pride and happiness? French economist Jacques Attali said, “Our society thinks more in terms of storage objects than live relationships.” Well sure, you get some satisfaction by buying yourself a superb consumer item that you have been wanting for so long.
Are we talking small daily pleasures or a sustainable mindset? You experience a lot of enthusiasm when you finally find the home of your dreams. Can you compare this feeling with the intensity of feeling you experience when your child looks into your eyes or laughs for the first time (complicity and tenderness) or when you really felt, for the first time, a feeling of love?
The philosopher and writer Jean Fourastie has written on this topic: “The frenzy authorized by the high standard of living and good health, extends to the individual surface and the reduced depth”. He later adds “It kills meditation and prohibits the building of character: Being a mosaic of sensations becomes ephemeral in the long term, and also dull and contradictory. It leads to instability, anxiety, anguish.”
It seems therefore that the secret lies in the way in which you go about achieving happiness. Dostoyevsky said “It is not the goal that matters, but rather the path towards this goal… The answer is not that simple and it is very subjective. The focus is on achieving this wonderful goal by yourself, to know yourself better and to make happiness a priority. We can read to find tracks, improve relationships, and balance our life. Regardless of how you do it, the important thing is to start… now!