What Does It Take to Find Our Path to Happiness?

anything and everything, but there is none. Smiles appear for one moment and tears last for ten more. We all have many things to worry about—things both big and small that clasp our heads like a shower cap, and they hug our brains so tight that all our suffocating thoughts and ideas are held close. That is, until the next big event occurs. It all feels like a big migraine; I hate this feeling, and I know we all do. Even so, it’s all in the name of happiness. Ah, happiness, the elixir of life that ranks higher than water. Happiness, the carrot on a stick that has gotten everyone stomping all over each other. Happiness, what does it take to reach you?

life does as it pleases. As depressing as it sounds, I don’t believe I’ve met anyone truly content with their life. I ask others if they’re happy, and they tell me they are. The only problem is that I find them retiring back to their originally anxious dispositions just a minute later, raving about what they should’ve done, or what they should do. It’s always a constant push and pull of working, a never-ending cycle of adversity, becoming happy, and trying to reach for more. In turn, that erupts a flood of suffering. That’s simply the course of life, forever changing for both better and worse.

“Everything that was not suffered to the end and finally concluded, recurred, and the same sorrows were undergone” (Siddhartha). 

We’d suffer no matter what choice we make, because each decision carries its own weight. That’s probably the part I hate most about life: there’s no way of telling what it intends to do. This just makes me wonder—how longer must I persevere?

we can work hard to change our fate, but it’s a long, long path. We’re all trying our best to figure that out. Though life has its control in power, we have our control in choices. It’s why we choose to work so hard day in and day out. It’s why we choose to have to put ourselves in physically and mentally taxing situations. It’s why we choose to struggle in hopes of getting into a higher position, a summit that overshadows where we are now so that we can rest undisturbed. And as the seconds and days, weeks, years pass by, by the time we realize it, isn’t it often too late? Too late as in, there isn’t enough time to savor the feeling of delight as compared to the grind that comes with each coming day? These thoughts bloomed in my mind after watching the film The Seven Samurai. To quote Kambei Shimada, one of the star characters, “Train yourself, distinguish yourself in war… But time flies. Before your dream materializes, you get gray hair. By that time your parents and friends are dead and gone.” At first, I thought what he said was particularly morbid, but through contemplation, I realized that it was simply the truth. I know I won’t be able to create the relaxing, self-sufficient life I dream of in my twenties; if I happen to reach that happiness at age seventy, I won’t be able to enjoy it with those that I love. If life was a chessboard, I know I’d have no chance at winning. Because of this, I realized that from the moment I was born, life had no intention to have mercy, and rather, had intended to keep me at check all the game through.

but think about what happiness is for a second. Frustrated, I would just carry on with my daily activities, knowing full well that I won’t be able to achieve the happiness I longed for. However, around the same time as I watched The Seven Samurai, I began reading about Diogenes, one of those profound ancient Greek philosophers. And I know, it sounds like he’d be some mundane, scraggly-old guru that raves about “Friendship is magic!” and whatnot, but he surprised me. Diogenes had nothing and—he said it himself—that he lived like a dog. He would disturb others and act publicly indecent as a means to show that mankind was shackled by societal expectations. But, he was content, happy even, stating “No man is hurt but by himself… Literally by how he interprets what happens to him. If he focuses on how it could have been better, he will be hurt. If he focuses on how it could have been worse, he will be happy. The same is true for women too.” Seeing how Diogenes rejected society’s expectations so brazenly, this also makes me believe that happiness is a social construct. Happiness is usually seen as something yellow, warm, bright, sunny. But it can also be colorless, shapeless, have no feel or form to it; it’s all based on our interpretation. If we base our individual happiness on how others base theirs, there’s little to no integrity in the path for ourselves. Therefore, rather than trying to find said path and reach for that struggle, it’s better to just take a step back and ask ourselves what it is that makes us happy, even if it goes against the grain.

we define what we think of happiness. Through our differences, we all have our experiences of grievances, troubles, and battles. All this for a happier life, but it’s hard to define what we can do to achieve it. However, if anything, just do what you believe is right for yourself. This way, we can all do ourselves a little favor at the present time. It feels a bit too optimistic to say that we’ll all find happiness, and of course, that also means that it would be too pessimistic to say that we’ll never be happy. We just have to find that cozy spot in the middle, because happiness is whatever we make of it.

And I’ll tell to you the secret that now makes my life so bright—
      There’s a flower at my window in full bloom. 
It is radiant in the sunshine, and so cheerful after rain; 
        And it wafts upon the air its sweet perfume. 
Lucian B. Watkins, “The Flower at My Window” (1903)

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