Maybe it was the fresh air or simply a change of scenery but for the first time in months I felt truly happy. No worries about girls, work, rent or what my next article is going to be about. Just a simple day of walks, laughs and photographs. This got me thinking about happiness and how people view it as a commodity or thing we’re all entitled to but for me it’s more of a feeling or a state one finds themselves in. The world renowned illusionist and personal hero of mine Derren Brown recently gave an interview on Radio 2 about this very topic. He talked about how the question of happiness isn’t thought about as much as it used to be. People think they know what they need to be happy but unfortunately chasing the path of fame and fortune isn’t likely to be fortuitous. Fame and fortune should be by-products of your life, not the sole purpose of it as success isn’t something that arrives suddenly.
Maybe the word ‘happy’ is part of the problem as we use the term loosely everyday. You team won a football game? You say you’re happy. Enjoyed a nice meal at your favourite restaurant? Same answer. Using one word to describe different emotions is limiting and diminishes its value. Perhaps what we’re feeling is pleasure and sometimes its hard to distinguish between the two. More and more self help books are published everyday with a simple message that anyone can “magically get what they want”. This is a damaging precedent as it’s a promise that will always disappoint.
Ancient Greek philosophers such as Epicurus and Pyrrho also talked about Atoraxia, a lucid state of robust tranquillity, characterised by ongoing freedom from distress and worry. The teachings of Buddhism follow along the same lines by telling you that attachment to things you cannot control will only lead to pain so treading the fine line between productivity and tranquility is the way to go.
I feel that happiness is whats left when you remove anxiety and disturbances from everyday life or as the 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau put it: “HAPPINESS: A GOOD BANK ACCOUNT, A GOOD COOK, AND A GOOD DIGESTION”
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