It’s often very terrifying to me, that concept which shines so brightly in the eyes of most men and philosophers alike, the almost unanimous question which weighs heavily on the hearts of both the brightest and dimmest of men together at once. What do we do? What are we meant to do? Why are we here? And really, who’s to say? We have no concrete answers or evidence, any semblance of guidance on our journey through the murky wonder of existence…and yet we search all the same, with fervor and tenacity, some yielding themselves the notions of Nietzschean meaninglessness and frivolity and some choosing to forge onwards through the vicious headwinds and perpetual discomfort of the uncertain. Sometimes I see it I think; sometimes I believe quite sincerely that in my little insignificant interactions I find clues to some sense of meaning, although a conclusion in its entirety still eludes me vehemently.
Recently I conversed with an elderly man who absolutely jumped at the opportunity to tell me about his day, truthfully I expected a half-hearted mediocre reply along the lines of good, or fine, perhaps even great, and knew I would listen and acknowledge less than a third of what he had to say as anything more than idle chit chat. However what I received was so far superior and satisfying I felt myself engaged in a way most peculiar. He didn’t tell me about himself or his day, or the weather, he told me his son got a car last week. Naturally you’d assume there’s nothing in that, you’d respond with “wow” or “that’s great” that reeked of calm indifference, but something about his smile, his tone, it drew me in to listen further. He continued on to tell me about how his son got the car as part of his job, where he was very high up at some marketing company, how he only reported to one boss who was the chairman of the entire business. This elation in his voice, the joy so very apparent in his expression and attitude, it made me feel warmth, I too felt happy for his son, I didn’t know him, I didn’t care about his existence 2 minutes prior and yet he had conveyed so casually this sense of pride and true satisfaction with his own life, through the success of another that I was compelled to share in his excitement. Sometimes we are so vastly caught up in what we want, the things we need, our own selfish and myopic desires take the front seat and to hell with whoever is unfortunate enough to get in the way. Make no mistake, this is the normal and most natural state of being for a person, that sense of self-preservation that runs deeper than any empathy ever could…but sometimes, I think, it is an important to being happy with ourselves that we are allowed to feel happy for others.
Happiness is a broad concept, far reaching and ever growing in scope, one could spend an eternity searching for a definition that captures the sentiment entirely and still fall quite short.
What makes me happy may make you sad, what makes you happy may send me into fits of rage; therefore it is important to never define our own happiness relative to others.
Being Happy isn’t a finish line you can cross or a destination you can simply reach, it is a never ending struggle of the human being to find purpose amidst purposelessness, to seek their own definition for what it means to be fulfilled and continuously pursue that sentiment. You will never stop seeking happiness, because that’s exactly what it is – a “Pursuit of Happiness”
Find the small fragments of joy in your everyday life, for however dark the night may seem I assure you that if you look hard enough you will discover that through the cracks there are rays of light shining through, penetrating the abyss with light beyond comprehension, and it is up to you to find them. To find them and begin piecing together the infinite puzzle of being okay with who you are and what you want, finding balance in your emotions, seeking purpose, all these things that culminate in your personal definition of happiness.
Personally, I don’t think even I have discovered quite what it means to me, but I wake up every day with the knowledge that to truly live life, to make all the struggle and misery, all the sleepless nights and suffering, worth it, that I must forge onward. Through the absurdity, through the uncertainty and doubt, through the murk and mire of insecurity, you must build for yourself a palace of contentment and joy, impenetrable and absolute.
Always remember, that in life, we have so very few things that are certain, the weather changes, people come and go, money is fleeting, but the way you feel about yourself, getting up in the morning and being able to truly love what you see in the mirror is a certainty that I’m afraid none of us can or should pass up, and is very real possibility for all those willing to try.
Ansel Johnson is a Moroccan-American Writer and Student currently based out of Dubai with extensive firsthand experience in issues related to mental health and a focus on helping to both create awareness and removing the stigma around getting help in the Middle East.
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