Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

The Pursuit of Happiness

Several days ago, haikujaguar wrote an interesting essay about honor, and working a day job. That essay was well-crafted, and inspired by a section of previous post.

But it wasn't the post itself, which touches on themes similar to my own thoughts about responsibility and freedom, that made me stop and think. What did that was a comment she made in response to someone else on the first post:

"I'm still trying to figure out how we're supposed to find contentment when society seems desperate to teach us that we deserve happiness without effort and pleasure without consequence."

And I thought about that.

It's not quite right. But it's close.

It reminds me of all those times, as a child, that someone said, "What do you have to be unhappy about?"

You live in a first-world country, you've got a roof over your head and food in your pantry and parents who love you and friends and family and count-your-blessings you've got no problems why-aren't-you-happy?

Society doesn't just tell us we deserve to be happy. Society tells us we're ungrateful, selfish, inconsiderate bastards if we're not happy. With all that's been given to us, how could we be unhappy?

all that's been given to us.

Is happiness a gift? Is it something I can stick in a box and wrap with a ribbon and give to you? "Here. Be happy."

all that's been given to us.

Getting gifts makes me happy. Giving gifts makes me, happy, too. But the gift itself doesn't give me lasting contentment. Sometimes the sentiment behind builds a foundation, a reason for enduring joy. (do you know I still smile when I think of the fourteen cows given to America by that Masai village).

But I wonder ...

Is happiness something that must be pursued, must be earned and captured?

Can I only be happy with what I think I've earned? If you gave me this thing I've been chasing after, would I smile and say "Thank you," and enjoy it for a few days ... then have to go find something else to pursue?

If I get it on my own, will it last?

I think that's right.

It doesn't matter if society thinks I deserve to be happy with effort, or to take pleasure without effort. I can't be happy unless I think I've earned it.

And that is the danger, when parents or the governemt or loved ones or say, "But I've given you so much. Why do you still want more?" Why should I be content with what came at no price? Why wouldn't I want more?

Why should I give up the pursuit?
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