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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Philosophy 101.

Happiness, however elusive a concept it may be to describe, is something we all know and strive for in life. We are expected to be happy; society tells us we should be happy. And if you’re not, make adjustments and make sure you get there, sooner rather than later. Happiness is often regarded as an end goal, something we slowly (or rapidly) move towards, something we reach, like life’s finish line; once you’re there, it’s clear sailing. One could argue that the meaning of life, if such a thing exists, is to acquire happiness and subsequently spend your remaining days in a constant state of blissful happiness; what that happiness is, what shape and form it presents itself in, is another matter entirely and differs per person.

However, ask anyone whether or not they are genuinely happy right now and chances are the answer will be a shrug and a ‘Yeah, sure.’ Very few will respond with a heartfelt ‘Yes!’ and those that do, I daresay, only do so because they think it’s the right answer, the answer you want to hear or the answer they are supposed to give. Why is this? Are we incapable of being truly happy in this very moment? I postulate that happiness, as a phenomenon, as an emotion, an experience, does not exist in the present moment.

I propose that happiness is an after effect of past experiences, something that can only be experienced in hindsight. Happiness as an active emotion --as something you experience in the moment, in the ‘now’, like anger or grief-- does not exist – you will only find happiness in the past. What that boils down to is: happiness is something that exists in memory only. The present moment is too littered with the daily chores and worries, the jetsam and flotsam of a life being lived, to experience it as happiness; the current moment has the potential for happiness but it’s only when seen through the murky waters of memory that happiness can be recognised and determined.

Memory places a filter on your memories of past events, filtering out the everyday undesirables, the mundane trivialitites of existence, which allows you to regard a particular memory separately, clean of the debris of everyday life, and (all subconsciously) judge it for what it’s worth: a moment of happiness, or not?


Blogger Marte said...

Wow, hadn't thought of it that way before. Makes sense. You're a wise philosopher, Mister. (Aren't all philosophers wise though?)

9:03 pm  

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