Happiness is a state of pleasurable wellbeing. It is a positive state of mind.
Some people are naturally happy. Some people are naturally gloomy. Most are in the middle and some swing madly to extremes. It’s all to do with our genetically programmed predisposition.
So those genetically programmed to be happy will tend to be despite all the adversities of their life. I have known people living in great pain and disability, or in terminal illness, who have maintained a positive, happy disposition, while others who have everything going for them are as gloomy and miserable as can be.
Happiness is determined by brain chemistry. If we get the balance of our serotonin and dopamine right then we are happy despite everything.
So what causes happiness? Is it wealth, comfort and possessions?
Is it health?
Well certainly not having your health and living in pain and discomfort, in poverty and penury, with all its resulting fears and tribulations, can make one feel down. Seeing other animals and creatures suffering can twang on the empathy strings and make us feel despair and misery. But still those inherent genetic predispositions show through.
Some people seem to live in dire situations and are happy.
One factor that has a big effect on people’s happiness is our own expectations. If we have expectations that exceed our capabilities or standards then it makes us miserable. I think this is what is happening right now.
Society works to make us miserable.
We are constantly being regaled with images of other people’s lifestyles, possessions and bodies and we constantly fall short. Advertising awakens needs that cannot be fulfilled. Programme after programme showers us with images, opportunities, experiences that are held out tantalisingly.
The message is that if only we do have that, do that, be that, we would be happy. We work ourselves silly, purchase, consume, have face-lifts, buy beauty products, and go chasing experiences in search of the elusive happiness that these other people have. We always fall short. Even the few that achieve the pinnacle of wealth, fame and notoriety find that it is not what it’s cracked up to be. Many of them descend into stress-0fuilled drug, alcohol or sex addictions. They are miserable.
People living in the Third World now have access to TV and see the standard of life in the West. They compare it to how they are living and feel miserable.
They now want what they perceive we have. If only they had that they would be happy.
Except it is not true. Gaining possessions, winning the lottery, living at a higher standard creates short-lived happiness. We mere raise our level of expectation and get used to the new standards. Everything is relative. Happiness is transient.
I remember taking my computer in and getting it revamped. It was superfast. The guy in the shop said to me that it would only be superfast for a couple of days. ‘How come?’ I asked. ‘After a couple of days you’ll have got used to it and it will be normal’. He was right. We take for granted what we have. We lust after what we haven’t.
Society cannot deliver. Politicians raise our expectations but can never satisfy our expectations. No matter how well-off and comfortable we are we are falling short and will never be satisfied.
There are always threats that are looking to take away what we have. We blame it on the terrorists, the immigrants, the enemy, the other races, the other ideologies. They are threatening us. They need dealing with. They are stealing our happiness.
So what is the answer? Well there are two.
Firstly, we could decide to take the Buddhist approach, live in the moment, accept all sensations and feelings as transient and of equal worth, not try to hold on to the good ones and avoid the bad ones, but accept them all, allow them to wash over us and remain serene.
The happiest man I ever met was a Buddhist. He believed in nothing, accepted everything and wanted for nothing. He lived in the moment.
Secondly, we could simply use chemicals to boost our brain chemistry!
So, the government needs to act!! It needs to stop raising our expectations and control this flood of consumerism that is making us miserable. As I think it would find it hard to convince the entire population to take up Buddhist philosophy and meditation its best bet is to flood our food and water with chemicals that enhance our brain chemistry.
The first government that cottons on to that will be elected forever!
The future looks stoned immaculate!