BENGALURU: It is officially the new year of the common calendar now, even if it is not so by any other calendar you might follow. As we go about wishing each other a happy new year, here’s a message on what is happiness to all of us, especially those in relationships or seeking one as a way of being happy. This is from the French philosopher Montesquieu, “If one only wished to be happy, this could be easily accomplished; but we wish to be happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier than they are.”
We strive for states of happiness we believe others have achieved and continue to enjoy endlessly. We are sold that idea everywhere as individuals in our personal lives, and certainly in our love lives. Pictures of happy, smiling people dressed up in the hottest fashion, holidays in beaches, hills and mountains, television series showing people eating amazing food in Michelin star restaurants in locations or there in the French countryside, forking delectable morsels into perfectly painted lips, luxury car rides into the deserts of Arabia - the list of what happy people are supposed to do and like doing is endless, and by pushing the belief that others are happier and that’s because of X or Y, we stay in a state of wanting and needing, but not really experiencing happiness in the here and now.
What if this new year, we took Montesquieu’s observation to heart? What if we really questioned what we are chasing to find happiness? What if we stopped looking to others for aspirational value, and asked ourselves what would keep us happy?
If we let go of the competitive idea of needing to be as happy or happier than others, comparing what we have with what others seem to have, and instead, really checked-in on what it is that we actually desire, perhaps things will be very different. Take weddings, for example. Do you really want to be married? Do you need a huge wedding? What is it that would make you happy about the commitment you are making to a loved one? Quite often, weddings are not about the people in love themselves or what they want in announcing their commitment and affirming it with their extended communities, but about how the wedding is to be seen.
When you talk to the people in love themselves, a great majority of them would acknowledge that the wedding wasn’t really for them or their love, but for society’s sake. A good number confess that their wedding day wasn’t really fun and actually quite stressful. When they see the photoshopped and airbrushed pictures of happiness in their wedding album, it doesn’t really bring happiness – just relief that it is over.
It is a tall task to let go of the competitiveness and seek our happiness in ourselves, but it is a liberating task. May we find our own happiness and let others have their own. May we find fulfillment in and for ourselves. May our loves bring us joy.