Over three decades of existence. Over two decades of wondering. And nearly a decade of contemplation and search for the underlying and actual meaning of life and the things that make a human happy. The path to this quest still remains endless but at this juncture I nonetheless seem to have stumbled upon something – that for the time being feels grassy-green, liquid-wet, light-brightening, and being-at-home relaxing-type of true meaning of life. So, before this ‘mirage’ also vanishes in thin air and I chase another blue horizon of meaning, here is what drives the life of us. But before I get into that, here are some human types that I find intriguing.
I often see people of my age occupied in gathering possessions – home, land, SUVs – talking about family, frantically shopping every tiny tits and bits that makes their home a house, talking ‘serious’ things that mostly concentrate on social, ethical, moral and religious values, politics, and mostly their and their family’s future. Actually, these are most recurrent themes discussed, wished and chased around here– are these pursuit for happiness?
I often read/listen about murders, killings, wars, rapes, assaults, corruptions, and every possible crime against humanity published/broadcasted on news channels and portals. Even in movies, there are villains, terrorists, underworld dons with posh cars, sexy girls, diamond-cut whisky glasses and rock-solid edgy guns and even though I have not seen them out of the screens, I know these life styles and their patrons do exist in real life. Actually, crushing desires, gains, achievements, and possession of others and becoming their possessor is the most recurrent themes discussed, wished and chased around here – is this the pursuit for happiness?
And the third lots are the vanquished, sometimes by nature, sometimes by human – the victims: victims of holocaust, victims of war, victims of earthquake, victims of state, victims of militants, or victims of their spouse, family or friend. They are not beggars but still their position does not allow them to be choosers – at least they present themselves in that way. Most of these consider themselves pathetic for they are not able to cater the confidence in them to fulfill any fancy their heart yearns for. Assistance, love, justice, revenge, freedom and gratification of desires are the most recurrent themes discussed, wished, and chased among them – is this the pursuit for happiness?
All these three categories of humans have different life styles, different mode of thinking, different attitude towards their life, and of course have different pursuits to chase – So, the question here is – Are these pursuits for happiness and is such happiness worth calling the true meaning of life?
We have seen people pass through the worst of miseries and yet some of them have been able to leave a mark on human civilization. While we wont go into details of these personalities here- we nonetheless conclude one thing that such people worked for a value. Gandhi worked for peace, Martin Luther worked for peace, Buddha worked for peace, Napoleon fought for glory, Hitler fought for his nation’s glory … the list goes on. Each of these humans overcame their own discomfort, brushed aside their desires to engage in small and petty things like earning property, having a family, playing with their kids, going on a holiday with their families. They left their comfort zone – got out of their regular and socially ascribed roles. Not only did they not chased the dreams the society brewed for them, but also kept their personal smallness to influence their objective to strive for a great value.
I am sure neither of the heroes we mentioned above had all the happiness in a day or in a moment – their life was full of struggles but yes the tits and bits of happiness that came in between their struggles kept them going on. The feeling of working for a value is far above and heavenly than working for materialistic gains. Let’s take a small example here. You might have noticed we become happy when we give. The reason for the happiness there is not the act of giving – but the result of that act – the expression of gratitude and happiness that the recipient shows. So, if giving a small help to our friend or a stranger can bring us happiness, think about the happiness and satisfaction that those human heroes might have received. It is that greater happiness and the ability to digest it that makes a hero.
But wait, its not again the end – you and me also have some values we chase. So does that means that we are on the right track to pursuit to happiness? This is a critical question. Viktor Frankl, the famous Austrian psychiatrist, says “The salvation of man is through love and in love.” But don’t remain misguided here, like I was. Viktor, in my analysis, is not referring to the love that we have for our loved ones- he is referring to the love for our values – of remaining upright, of helping the needy, of sharing the true spirit of this life with others without having hidden values.
And what could be ever great than our love for someone to cherish. If you have loved anyone – you might have already remembered and unwilling smiled the smile. But you will not have this smile if you remember a person from whom you had only sexual gratification – because sex is receiving and love is giving. Maybe, this is why we humans have this great institution of marriage – where we give and take. For being happy, we don’t have to be Gandhi or Hitler – we don’t have to love or care for the whole world, we don’t have to do great deeds – All we have to do are ordinary things of our life, all we just have to love are the ordinary humans in our life – because they are our values and therefore the pursuit of happiness.
[P.S: Thank you very much for the insightful book]