Of all the myriad enigmas that life hankers after in its entirety, it is perhaps the pursuit of happiness that presents itself as the most poignant. After all whatever we do in our lives, or at least seek to do through it, is linked directly to the premise that it would make us happy. Having a fulfilling career, a loving family, the riches and wealth of the world and engaging in all such pursuits that define the good life are but all means towards the same end- a happy existence. And there isn’t a single soul in the world who perhaps doesn’t covet happiness or at least recognise its importance in all manifestations of life. Be it someone who believes that money is the most important thing in life or someone who finds it worthwhile to live life in its simplest of pleasures, it still is the pursuit of happiness that guides them on their own path. But much like every other thing that we crave, happiness, as it turns out, is an elusive entity- one that presents itself to us only in fleeting doses, much like love, or every other pursuing for that matter.
As an abstract matter of the mind, it only is natural that happiness would not present itself to us exactly the way we want it. In chasing after happiness, we drive it farther from us because the longer the wait for something, the greater the nature of happiness but also shorter the bliss of it. In other words, we do experience the intense ecstasy of happiness every once in a while but in fizzling out as fast as it had boomed what we are left with is in fact a residue of longing, one that asserts itself as so strong a need that we tend not to dwell too long in the lingering after effect of the happiness that just graced our lives. To the extent that this momentary onslaught of happiness only paves the way for greater expectations to follow, happiness might even be a lesser evil.
What makes happiness so momentary a pursuit in actuality is a derivant of the vigorous pursual of it. Indeed, being happy speaks differently for different individuals. For a child it is some new toy that sparks happiness in him. For you or me however it perhaps is our climbing grades or our complicated relationship status evolving into a matured, stable one that brings us all the joy in the world. But just like the child who starts losing interest in his now new toy some time hence, so too our stable relationship starts becoming mundane and unexciting leading us to search for happiness in a different, and better so, unattainable place in life. For it is the arousal of the expectations of happiness rather than the actual realisation of it that guides what we forever cite as the ‘spark’ in all things of life.
In its perplexing manifestations therefore in which it presents itself to us, happiness isn’t any more real than an illusion that which makes up life in its sum. It might be convenient to count our blessings in terms of the happy life we are leading, seemingly whole with the unconditional love of family and friends, the joy of togetherness and companionship, good food and good experiences, fun and frolic and fulfillment, till the time this peculiar understanding of life begins to set in. In our articulation of the many worthy pursuits of life, we tend to not understand at times the fleeting nature of the happiness mirage. As always some work in action, happiness is bound to be transient, an existence only at a certain point in time that which loses not just its intensity but also slips away from its identity as moments roll by. It might seem quite absurd to equate happiness to some form of unrequited love but the stark ways in which this pursuit of being happy indeed conforms to the romanticism of a love not returned is surreal. It is only a celebration of love that even in being one sided, it represents affection of the highest degree. There is a certain charm to being a forlorn lover that eludes the many ‘perfect’ couples in love. So too happiness, in the exciting prospect of running after a desire is much more fulfilling than its actual attainment itself. Once happiness finds its way to you, you reside in it in a comfort that while is enriching can never match up to the heart pulsating anticipation of its being. But while every thing in life ceases to retain its wholesome charm when it becomes the reality, the manifestation of happiness is even some tad bit different.
The problem with happiness is that we pursue it in all things in life. Unlike the love we crave from only that special someone, with regards to happiness we tend to put the onus on everything we do. From everyday things like the authentic meal we managed to cook up and the exclusive designer dress we got our hands on to more profound or rather more absolute experiences like the feeling of being a parent or even proving to be an able child to our parents, it is happiness that drives us. The physical act of eating might serve our tastes and senses but the experience of it satiates our desire for happiness relating to a certain category. In every single thing in life, no matter how mundane and routine or special and extraordinary, we rush into them with the expectation of happiness as always an accompanying lure to it. The primary motive behind moving on to a new job might be the heftier pay check that would enable us to live better but the underlying, often unconscious reality guiding it is earning enough to live a happy life. In its all encompassing or rather all accompanying nature therefore, happiness takes on such variegated interpretations that it becomes difficult to sustain with that one wave of the happy feels for long.
Another very peculiar notion attributed to happiness is that it seeks to upsize our sorrows. Coping up with the sadness that follows happiness as the dictum of life becomes all the more difficult since the contrast in the experiences is stark, and often unfathomed. The entity of happiness finds its way into our life with always a shadow cast over it, wherein lurks the unpleasant, viciously waiting to pounce upon our beings without even the slightest hint of its dawning. In aggravating our grief, it is only better then that happiness be as elusive as it tends to be. But even in its evasive bounds, this feeling we identify as happiness is a force so overwhelming that drives us to utter frenzy, rendering us more vulnerable to the bad that might follow. Deriving happiness is simple but sustaining in the feel of it and savoring its rewards is somewhat of a peril not all of us are everytime seasoned enough to handle. Happiness also can be evil in that even in its absence it dictates our life through the misery that we forever try to ward off. Lives becomes less worthy when we are not happy because happiness is the yardstick of our lives. As futile as existence tends to be especially in the face of how overrated life is, it becomes all the more added a burden to live while consciously seeking happiness in everything we need to do. It is almost as if we aren’t living at all if we aren’t living the happy life. But working out what happiness means and how it can be worked out and achieved or derived is an arduous task at hand, one that makes happiness even more desirable and elusive and coveted and repulsive at the same time. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, happiness has to rise from the absolute depths of doom for it to be substantial. For a life pursuit so rooted in the ambiguous, is it in fact then a worthy life whiled away all the time in the hankerings of happiness?