In pursuit of appiness
It could probably be a name for a new line of apple products. And like apple products, happiness can be fleeting, it can fault-her, and then you need to take it to a genius tech (guru, spiritual teacher, breakdown) in order to gain perspective and achieve it again. Besides there is always something to upgrade to, a new device more compact and shiny to have. Garden+lover+financial security= happiness. This is a stupid formula and to my mind, most would agree that formulas are temperamental and are generalised. The point I’m making is that in the pursuit of happiness, we might have all sold out other more important ambitions. What is happiness? A state of content, a state of joy and well-being. These are good experiences to encourage, these are experiences everyone should have. But I am not always happy. And this doesn’t necessarily make me unhappy. Nor does it make me neutral. It’s as though happiness is something that happens without too much attention needed for its existence. I’m still not making sense. But it seems to be such a concern that an everyday greeting of ‘How are you?’, which we know as social beings as mostly a polite formality, might generate into a confusion of communication ettiquette should someone actually respond with, ‘Well I’m quite sad and forlorn and feeling terribly isolated, how are you?’ This is not the sort of response most people on everyday infrequent ‘I’m asking the bus driver as I board the bus’ would expect. And how would one possibly cope with that bus ride? Seeing a bus driver with tears in their eyes might prompt the humanitarian in you to ask if you can do anything. But you might be holding up the impatient commuters behind you who need to swipe their brains against the machine to board.
In the December 2011 issue of Psychology Today, Annie Murphy Paul explores the benefits of both optimism and pessimism and how both states of mind might function for decision making processes. ‘Pessimism can assist us in managing our feelings. Buy spinning down our expectations, it insulates us from crushing disappointment when things done’t go our way.”(61)
But I’m not actually writing this to give a belated birthday party to pessimism. Nor am I suggesting happiness sux. I just don’t think it is important to have to smile and be happy all the time. Just because I’m not smiling doesn’t mean I’m sending out laser beams of negative energy. I may be concocting a wickedly brilliant line for another poem, or I might be in bliss. I do think happiness is a decision making process in itself. It can be thwarted by low seratonin levels, environmental factors, but there must be a decision made. But whilst this decision is being made why dwell on thinking about it. I think connecting to other living beings is part of happiness. Genuine connections. But then I’m not thinking about whether I”m happy or how happy I am. And those motivational speakers with their optimism speeches freak me out. They look like their heads are going to explode with happiness. It’s like the word has lost any meaning. As though it’s just become an application. Another app.