Let’s face it. We all are concerned about it. The question murmured as if slightly shameful or out of place. “How can I get more of it in Life?”
More, that is. More salary, more meaningful relationship, more success, more social recognition, more appreciated, more helping hands, more meaningful work. However you put it, we crave for more than ever.
It may be because we are raised in growth oriented society. We are told that if you do not grow you do not exist. You should earn more than your peers, you should have more attractive partner than your rival friends, more pricy car than anyone else, that fancy iPhone should be seen in your hands before anybody else in your circle. We are told that if we do not crave for more we may get lost in crowd and irony is that, that itself makes us a part of crowd. We always peep into a myriad of new neighbors’ lawns whose grass often looks greener. Take Facebook. Everyone has fulfilling lives there. Their colleagues are helpful and fun, their partners attractive and caring, their travels exotic and food delicious. Their glasses are full. Children always smile and never have tantrums.
Someone always seems to be running behind it. Whatever ‘it’ is. So why aren’t we?
When it comes to life, however, many of us still believe that grass is greener on other side of the fence.
We believe in the belief of “fulfilling life” and imagine that to be out there — at the other end of the marshes of torment, waiting for us to wade through a forest of doubts. That very belief keeps us confused and stuck.
We always think that someone else is having a better time elsewhere. We make ourselves miserable by constantly thinking about the unknown in an endless quest to find happiness. We torture ourselves over what we should do next, wondering if we’re missing out on something big. We feel we’re wasting our lives if we’re not doing something more important. There is a sense of urgency because we feel like we’re running out of time and should be doing something greater or somehow we’ll fail.
Happy and fulfilling life is a consequence. Not a destination. It is the sentiment we experience, usually in passing, when we’re engaged with activities, people, or purposes that keep us going and make us feel alive. It is not the big warm light at the end of the tunnel. It is the tiny LED that signals “life is ON.”
Steve Jobs, for example, in his oft-cited Stanford Commencement address, told the crowd to not “settle” for anything less than work they loved. Jobs clearly loved building Apple, but as his biographers reveal, he stumbled into this career path at a time when he was more concerned with issues of philosophy and Eastern mysticism. This is a more complicated story than him simply following a clear preexisting passion, but it’s a story we need to tell more.
We’re ambitious and ready to work hard, but we need the right direction for investing this energy. “Follow your passion” is an inspiring slogan, but its reign as the cornerstone of modern career advice needs to end. We don’t need slogans, we need information — concrete, evidence-based observations about how people really end up finding life they want to live.
The Pursuit of Happiness is an essential human right. All great philosophers on whose work our current society is built and standing strong implied that happiness and personal growth were a major purpose of life, and should be central goal of education. The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily drafted by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. The text of the second section of the Declaration of Independence reads,
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
According to the Federalist Papers, written by the founders of U.S. government, “A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.”
More than two hundred years later, our schools and universities are still neglecting these goals. We are so busy cultivating our intellectual skills in the pursuit of wealth and status, that we have neglected the pursuit of happiness. Through this blog we are trying to understand the new “Science, History and Art of Happiness“.