Friday, July 16, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

Life is unfair. Life consists of suffering, toil, and hardship. However, everyone wants to enjoy life. This fundamental problem, how to enjoy life when it is filled with the aforementioned troubles, draws answers from countless sources, everything from religions to advertisements. Christianity promises salvation and eternal life at the end of suffering, where death does not end life but transitions into eternal life. Advertisements promise happiness, but only after buying the product being promoted. Naturally, there is a bit of a gap between the two promises, but that is not the point. With so many answers, from so many sources, how does one choose? How does the individual distinguish the “right” answer?

Learn what makes you, not society, not your parents, not your friends, happy. Happiness is a personal goal, a subjective truth. Although self-knowledge tends to be elusive and hard to attain, acquiring self-knowledge provides a metaphorical road map to happiness—arguably the Holy Grail of metaphorical maps. If introspection fails, trial and error works just as well. Try different activities, anything from reading to base-jumping. Then, simply make the enjoyable activities into hobbies, or, if lucky, a career. Do not be discouraged if this process takes a long time. Remember, there are billions of people in the world, but only a small fraction truthfully content.

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