why do people not succeed in being happy?

August 19, 2008

For all my years of living, I have come across countless books that made me aware of the fact that people are generally unhappy for various reasons. But why could this happen when our planet and our capable brains have already given us all the conveniences needed for survival? Let’s define the term first before we go any deeper. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, believes that happiness is the proper end of man. He said that we should aim for it as it is a natural part of our existence. Yet, Webster simply describes it as a state of well-being and contentment. From these two, one can conclude that happiness is meant for hardworking humans. But it is more than that, for there have been instances when I was thankful and satiated for unexplained reasons. I also believe that like love, happiness is something that we cannot have without consequence; it is elusive and uncommon, and above all, overwhelming beyond words. So why do people not succeed in being happy?

First, we are blind. We look for the wrong things and end up with nothing when it was already right there with us. What exactly blinds us? The beliefs and notions that we hold make us conclude that life is no more than material gain and making a name that will last through the centuries. It also causes us to assume, which for most simply means to expect. People assume too much and by the end, they’re the ones who get disappointed. This happens a lot, especially to me. I remember back a few years ago that I used to be an over-achiever. I was this kid who wanted to make her parents and family proud through recognition, there was nothing wrong with that, right? As the years mounted, I slowly turned sluggish and didn’t care as much for grades. This frustrated me. I used to look back and I would curse myself for not being enough. I assumed too that the people close to me thought of me that way. So I assured myself and my imaginary frustrated family, thinking that this was just a small break and I would eventually rise back up. But I never did. I found out later on that it was actually me who had set standards too high for me to grasp to compensate for the lost years when I wasn’t ‘enough’ in their eyes. All the while, my family kept telling me that it wasn’t the recognition or the achievements that were important but the lessons and the wisdom that we learn and practice along the way. So that explains why I was so angst-ridden in my early teenage years: I screened my vision of the person that I was and impaired my esteem all because I assumed wrongly that I would be happy and my parents would be happy IF I remained on top. I ended up expecting too much and became depressed.

Secondly, I think it also has to do with our connection with God. It is a common idea that we descended from God, the almighty father. So as children, we would naturally want to be gods ourselves. We wish to be infallible and immortal like him. This is manifested by the decaying bodies that we still keep and refuse to let go and all the efforts we do to attain flawless ivory skin. But humans attaining the same level as the father will never happen. We can only be gods by the perfect love that God shares with us and when we share that same love with others as well. From this theory comes another possibility: what if we were never meant to be happy in this life because we are incapable of being contented? We are after all, selfish beings by nature whose thirst for gratification is as deep as the ocean. To illustrate this argument, take a look at the dreams of the youth. Are they not huge ambitions which are too much for the size of the average adolescent? I won’t deny it: I do want more than my fair share; I too dream of stars that are far beyond my reach because I want to make my family stable.

The last theory that I have is my favorite. I have thought about this long and hard, and I play it over and over in my head to analyze it even more thoroughly. Maybe because of our busy but monotonous routines, we forget to be happy. Maybe once upon a time, all of earth enjoyed a state of profound happiness but then it eventually faded as soon as man invented work, standards and logic. Have you observed babies when they play and then compare their actions to people our age or much older people? Do you notice the light in their eyes, the curiosity shining through? As babies, man, I believe, is absorbed with excitement, wonder and smiles, requiring only the basic amenities (milk, food, water, love, rest and play) in order to survive. But as we age, we become more complicated and the sense of wonder and contentment dissipates in the background.

When I think of it, these three are interrelated somehow. And I believe that they hold some answers no matter if they are proven to be true or not. I really think humans forget to be happy because they have such high expectations due to their ambitions and their dreams of surpassing heaven. We blind ourselves with temporary elements to pass the time and to create a reason to forget. We forget how to be grateful and how to take happiness out of ourselves and spread it all around us. The issue isn’t so much as not succeeding to be happy but rather, to remember how to be complacent and grateful by living purely everyday.


4 Responses to “why do people not succeed in being happy?”

  1. sherlyn ags Says:

    this article about happiness is really good. thank you for posting it…it is a help on making my reflection assignment as well as to myself.
    God Bless!

  2. mariel14 Says:

    glad i could be of help! 🙂

  3. Orgathcar Says:

    Wow, really interesting issue. I am going to write about it too!!

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