Life, as I know it

Young. Ambitious. Radical. Curious. Just trying to make it in this crazy world. Here's my journey.

Archive for happiness

The best things in life are free. Or, are they?

The best things in life are free, or so they say. Love. Friendship. Happiness. Peace. Sure, all of these things come much easier when one has wealth and power, but there are plenty of dirt-poor, but insanely happy people out there. In fact, according to a recent study done by an independent British research group, Costa Rica, not an industrialized nation, is the happiest nation on earth. Surprising? What’s even more surprising is that most developed nations were very low on the list, with Britain ranking 74th and the United States ranking 114th. If wealth and power can’t guarantee happiness, what can?

As a poor college student, my happiness rests on long weekends and academic accomplishments. Once I’m done with college (and the reason why I’ve sacrificed so much to get a degree in the first place) my career will make me happy, and once I’ve settled into my career, my family will make me happy. This is the American Dream, the reason why my peers and I stay in on Friday nights and have become increasingly  dependent on caffeine. As I look around at the successful people in America, though, I don’t see happiness.

I see fear, greed, envy and weariness. I see people whom, somewhere along their journey to the top, forgot what it was to laugh and love, forgot what it was that truly made them happy.

Recently, a wise, successful accountant told me that I would be hard pressed to find a successful man who didn’t cheat on his wife. It wasn’t the words he said that caught me off guard, though; it was the way this man — with a beautiful fiancee and enough money to retire tomorrow — said it without skipping a beat, as though it was completely natural for a wealthy, powerful man to have extra-marital rendezvous.

As I tried to figure out what could lead intelligent, otherwise sound-thinking and compassionate individuals to make such scandalous decisions, I realized it’s just another symptom of our unhappiness as a culture. The American Dream tells people that happiness equals success and to be successful means having a powerful job, a big paycheck and a perfect family. Of course, once someone at the top realizes they’ve lost any sense of what they stood for and sacrificed their dignity along the way, it’s not happiness they’re feeling. Hence the cheating and deceit, the constant chase for something that feels good, but only leads to contempt and emptiness.

While this may sound really depressing, the good news is that you can still choose to be a happy person. You can choose to stand up for the things you know are right and find solace in your strength of character in a world of flakes; you can demand our representatives in government be held to higher standards and be made accountable for their actions; easiest of all, you can be a kind person and enhance your community by treating everyone with love and respect. Oh, and don’t forget to smile. You look a lot better that way.