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  • Writer's pictureJai Jind

True Happiness

"Money is not going to bring you happiness..."

We've all heard it before, that money can't buy happiness. But what is true happiness? And who are we to tell people what true happiness is? Can it be classified, qualified, and quantified? If you ask around, the answers may be as varied as the people who give them. To the single person, it may be getting married; to the married person, having a child; to the child, getting a doll--and so forth. Sounds logical right? You could argue that in each case "happiness" can be reduced to the desire to procreate, to a biological drive.

However, what happens when people's ideas of happiness conflict? What about the addict whose only happiness is getting the next hit, versus his mother's--whose only happiness is him not getting his next hit? Or the stalker whose only life goal is to be with her crush while her crush's only life goal is to be rid of her. As you can see, our ideas of happiness can be highly subjective and even conflicting--especially in a post-modern world where there's as many ideas of felicity as there are people.

This subjectivity extends beyond the individual to whole communities and countries. Nations rise against nations, each going to war with God on their side, each assuming they're in the right. It's a question of conflicting ideologies and value systems, where one's "happiness"agenda is advanced at the expense of another's. Hitler's was "happy" to carry out the holocaust because he thought he was advancing the evolution of the human race, which he justified through the Darwinian principle of the "survival of the fittest." Surely, the millions of people he murdered didn't feel the same way.

Going even further, the subjectivity of happiness transcends the boundaries of species. It's a conflict of interest between predator and prey. We can't share our "happy" experience of eating a Big Mac with the animal we killed to make it, and therefore, true happiness cannot objectively be defined as a non-zero sum game. For that reason I contend that true happiness can only be derivative of something constructive, something unequivocally positive that doesn't come at the expense of another--a tall order in a world where most organisms kill to survive--including us.

Nevertheless, I don't consider myself a mere organism, a product of random chance acting on dumb material. My argument suggests otherwise. The fact that I find fault with the "kill or be killed" paradigm infers that there's another rule by which I judge it, a better ideal by which I evaluate reality. And if we can reduce our ideas of happiness to the basic categories of constructive vs. destructive, we're well on our way to finding some agreement about what true happiness is--which I'm convinced has its roots in love.

As the Apostle Paul wrote "love does no ill to its neighbor", which sums up my point. If we live our lives consciously about the consequences of our actions--how they'll affect others--we'd all be better off. In sum, let love be the law and treat others as you would like to be treated. That's the key to true happiness. And while these aspirations are not going to stop me from enjoying my chicken dinner tonight, they are enough to get me thinking about it. So does money bring true happiness? If it's used benevolently in the spirit of love--why not?

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