Recently, over a cup of a coffee with a good friend of mine asked me, ” I love how you write, but why don’t you write about happier things?” Its been a few weeks since that chat and I’ve been thinking about the answer.
Why don’t I write about things more cheerful and lighthearted? Why aren’t my reflections more carefree and high spirited?
But therein lay another, more significant question – what is happiness? It’s an adjective that has been overused and off late overwhelmed the world, seemingly. Buddhism says happiness is about letting go. Viktor Frankl, wrote about logotherapy, and said that happiness follows once you finding your purpose. Nietzsche said happiness is just desire and satisfaction. Self help books tell you happiness is about achievement of goals. Family tells you happiness is about fulfilling expectations. Advertisements tell you happiness is in experiences. The world tells you happiness is … what you feel when you’ve done it all.
I have given it all a go and and I’ll confess – I’m a stranger to happiness. We are yet to be well acquainted.
I have felt traces of the emotion, have errant memories when I’ve had that rise from my core, and felt it bloom like a flower at dawn. Fragments of laughter, a feeling of satisfaction, pride of doing something well, the thrill of conquering my fear, the warmth of being in the presence of love, the exhilaration of doing something ridiculous, the feeling of contentment of being in place of which I’ve only dreamed.
But, I don’t have potent memories of happiness. I don’t recollect a time when I was happy and that moment was unmarred by other emotions.
Happiness and I have always had a formality, it fulfills its job my making its presence known once in a while, and I give it a lukewarm nod of acknowledgement.
Perhaps, it is my fault. I don’t understand it, and have never given it a chance. Perhaps, we just aren’t meant to be.
Some people find anger, resentment, fear and grief difficult to deal with – emotions they struggle to master. Now those emotions I’ve mastered – they’re true friends. They stick around. But joy, laughter, cheer – that’s something I’ve learnt how to deal with, like that friend of a friend you have to be polite with when out for a group dinner, but never really got to know them well.
So, the answer to my friend’s questions is this – I don’t understand happiness. My brain’s very straightforward answer to that emotion is – does not compute. Could be flawed chemical reactions, faulty trains of thought or just my morose predisposition.
But humor, now humor I can do something about. But that’s a story for another post 😉