Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Happiness and Its Nonexistence

  So, I can be a bit of a pessimist and a cynic at times. Jason's asked me to write about my views on happiness. I do, indeed, base my happiness, or lack thereof, on others' views of me. This is because one can't have an objective view of themselves, and I know for a fact that if I based my happiness on my own view of myself, I would be miserable, seeing as how I don't much like myself. To me, basing one's happiness on one's own perception of oneself is like the saying, "It's not your destination that matters, it's the distance that you travel from where you began." I think that's pretty foolish; if you don't get where you were going, you may as well not be travelling at all. I mean, if you were driving to New York from Houston and your car broke down just outside of New York, I quite doubt you would say, "Oh well, at least I drove pretty far from Houston." You'd probably be quite furious that you drove so far and still didn't get where you were going. Similarly, if you're the only person who likes you, I don't understand why you would be happy. You might as well not exist, no? It seems pretty selfish to base your happiness on your own views. (I'd bet Hitler perpetrated the Holocaust, heard all the outraged backlash, and said to himself, "Haters gonna hate," so to speak.) Of course, if you AGREE that it's selfish and do it anyway, I'm perfectly fine with that. Very Scarlett O'Hara-esque. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" (Mental thought: "Even if I have to marry the man my sister's in love with using lies and deceit and then get him killed!") I love Scarlett O'Hara. I never have a problem with people being selfish, as long as they accept that they are, in fact, being selfish.
  All of that being said, this pretty undeniably means that happiness is nonexistent and unachievable for all good and selfless people. Since, ya know, no one can be liked by everyone, anyone who does indeed care what others think can never be happy. So really, the world would be a much happier place if everyone was selfish and took care of their own happiness before anyone else's, by whatever means necessary. But that would inevitably lead to widespread murder and genocide, stealing, and other terrible practices, right? Because the powerful would take control of the oppressed to be happy, and the oppressed would destroy the powerful to be happy, and the world would degenerate into chaos and anarchy (which isn't necessarily chaotic, but would be in this case). So, we go back to the selfless definition of happiness. But no one can get everything they want if they also want everyone else to be happy. So, even if you are content with your life under this definition, you can't ever be truly happy, since you will always have an idea of all the things you want and can't have. I define happiness, personally, as the absence of a vision of, or the absence of a desire for, another side on which "the grass is always greener." (My friend Jason defines it the complete opposite way, so perhaps he can respond to this at some point and sort this all out.) Under this definition, then, you can't ever be truly happy.
  I propose, then, that true happiness doesn't exist. Unless you are religious and believe in a Heaven, in which case you've beat the system. Kudos.

-Adarsh Nednur


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