A Happy Life
A personal observation
I used to think that someone who could have everything he wants, whenever he wants must be the happiest person alive. I also thought that a person who has the right traits; is ambitious, good-looking, good in business, sharp-witted, knows how to make money, has lots of energy, and is very clever, has all of the ingredients necessary for a happy life. When I asked around, I also found that most of the people I spoke with, agreed.
Then I began to take a good look at the general population, and I asked myself, “Ok, so where are these happy people?". I began to ask my friends and associates if they had ever met anyone truly happy. They all said, “Yeah, sure, I see them all the time”. That’s when I realized that most people think others are happy, but from a superficial perspective, without any intimate knowledge. Therefore, if I wanted to know the general condition of the world around me regarding who is living a truly happy life, there is only one way to find out. I would have to go out and personally ask people, rather than asking someone what they think about another person.
I began by asking some of the very wealthy people that I know. Those who had money coming in from every direction. They could spend as much as they wanted without any concern. They lived in palace-like houses, traveled the world, and had people constantly waiting on them hand and foot. After speaking with some of them I was surprised to find that even among the millionaires and billionaires I knew, in general, they were not satisfied. When seen from the outside, with my own eyes, they surely appeared to have all of the ingredients of a happy life, but when asked most of them said, “Yes, indeed I have wealth but not happiness! People are jealous of me; they want what I have. There is so much fighting within my family and so many other worries and concerns. And all of my worries are not from side issues but rather from my wealth itself!” I concluded that true happiness is not an automatic result of being extremely wealthy and my search continued.
Next, I decided to go and ask people of average wealth. I began with a friend of mine, a successful businessman. I spent some time with him and found that he was extremely ambitious and worked very hard to continuously achieve more and more wealth. I asked him if he was truly happy, and he said to me jokingly, “I wish I was, but I just don’t have the time!” He confided in me, that when his father, who started the business got old he said that he felt life had passed him by. He worked until he no longer had the strength to continue working and also lost any desire to taste the fruits of his labor. He sadly said that he could already relate to his father and feels he is going in the same direction. I left him with my question still unanswered, a happy life, where can it be found?
My next stop was the general working class. The majority of them said the following, “We work hard every day and sometimes into the night, and after all this, we feel that our portion of happiness and success in this world is among the smallest.” Some expressed that they felt the wealthy people were taking all the money while they did all the hard work. They felt that they were providing the world with so much good, but they were not receiving enough in return. Needless to say, they didn't sound so happy!
So, who are the ones living a happy life? This is my question and I have yet to find an answer. Is it possible that a happy life does not exist!? As an actual person living in this world and trying to be happy, this wasn't something I was able to accept, and I felt a need to get to the bottom of this. My first step in solving this problem was to understand what the problem is. Like a doctor, if he doesn't know what the sickness is, how can he heal it? What is the sickness in the world that has destroyed our ability to live a happy life?
I no longer believed as I did when I began, that ambition, wealth, or any external possessions or specific traits automatically led to happiness. I began to analyze the information I had gained from the people I had spoken with. The wealthy ones said that jealousy was ruining their happiness. The people of average wealth were too busy trying to acquire more and more. The working class felt they had no recognition for their contribution to society.
After taking time to think all this through, I concluded that it wasn't the world that lacked the opportunity for happiness but rather the focus of a person was the reason for his/her unhappiness. Although it was true that there was real jealousy surrounding the wealthy people, and my friend the businessman was indeed very busy, and so too was there a lack of appreciation for the working class, at the end of the day, a person does have the ability to choose what they want to think about and it's just as easy to focus on the good things as the not so good. Anyway, that was my observation. What do you think? Do you have any other ideas about this topic? I'd love to hear from you.