During recent decades, when we’ve learned to commercialize everything, happiness not being exempt, the consumer society from which we stem has made us evolve from beings in search of larger-than-life genuine happiness perhaps at times unattainable, but at the very least that made one dream, to beings living from one passing delight to the next. (Notice here that I do not use the word “progress” and that in many ways regressing would probably be more appropriate.) Often purchased at great cost, these little pleasures are nevertheless purely ephemeral, each one as much as the next. As a result of the advertising bombardment which we are continuously subjected to and from which we are hardly ever sheltered, it makes it easy to be convinced that there is always something missing from our happiness. Too busy hoping for the next thrill, one forgets to savour the happiness associated with the present moment.
Moreover, the society we evolve in has given us the impression that happiness lies within this society of entertainment where, at the first opportunity we get, we must find ways to entertain ourselves, to distract ourselves. As if happiness could be reached through the numbing of the mind. Be it to enjoy ourselves in order to relax, or better yet, to enjoy ourselves in a social context where we build relationships, or even in the context of a fitness activity, that I can understand, but to entertain ourselves just to pass time, I find that harder to accept. We were even taught, among other things through advertisements, that the ultimate goal of our lives was retirement, specifically at the magical age of 55 (Remember those Freedom 55 Financial ads). As time went on, we came up with pastimes going as far as to merely kill time (an expression that horrifies me), almost as if we had too much of it on our hands and that we simply had to patiently await our passing.
Thus, with the advent of technologies that have literally invaded our everyday lives, starting with the arrival of television to the introduction of digital technologies that are now omnipresent, we have come to increasingly spend countless hours being passive in front of all kinds of screens. But can we really allow ourselves to kill time or is it simply our way of avoiding the reflections that arise in us trying to make sense of our existence? Ultimately, regardless of our age, there will come a time when we will ask ourselves, “Is this all life had to bring me?” Or rather, “Is this all I had to contribute to this life?” And so, to avoid getting to our last breath and asking ourselves these questions, perhaps we should ask them while we still have time to see to them. That’s partly what this series of four articles that I titled “Happiness is within you” aims to do.
However, in order to successfully make this paradigm shift, each one of us must first realize the importance of quality time. We need to repel our societal conditioning in order to turn our free time into good use. This does not mean to work non-stop, but rather to realize the importance of each passing second and the responsibility that we have to make good use of it. Therefore, by allowing ourselves time to reflect, time to meditate, time for healing and time to work on anything that we are passionate about, and this to the best of our abilities and of our potential, we might be able to bring forth this primordial change that will ultimately allow us to live our lives fully.
Lastly, the commercialized happiness that we are led to believe as being the sole one that exists, a great myth fuelled from all sides, is therefore utopian as it is short-lived and unfounded. Happiness is not accessible through ephemeral external pleasures. Happiness cannot be bought. Instead, it is acquired, it is earned. Thus, I consider that happiness, true happiness, is a state of mind that can only be found within us.
I therefore invite you to keep reading this series of four articles as they get published and which will conclude with the one entitled “Happiness is within you and nowhere else” where I’ll describe the path towards true happiness.