Apr 27, 2011

if the goal of living is to grow...

So one of the more interesting side points of one my favorite Ted Talks is that the goal of living is to grow, not to be happy. Specifically, as humans, we have alot of quirky, weird, and sometimes apeshit crazy impulses and urges, many that can serve to stand in the way of happiness. This is because we are not built to be happy, we, like every other creature, are built to survive, to go on. More specifically we are built to breed.
But I'll talk about that another time. Another blog. What I want to talk about is what it might mean if we accept that our makeup, our design, is not engineered for the main purpose of happiness.
What does it mean if the goal of living is simply to grow, but yet we yearn, with so much of our being, to be happy.

Well, first off, I'll admit, I found a certain amount of relief with the notion that I was not uniquely designed to be happy, not specifically aimed, genetically, at satisfaction. Because, frankly, it takes some pressure off.
Here, I'll try to make it make sense. If I am made to be happy, and I am not happy, well then I am some kinda fuck up, huh? I mean, if I was built to find joy and peace, and I somehow managed to make a series of decisions that landed me in the miserable heap I have occasionally found myself in, I must be a unique kind of mistake right?
I know that kind of thought has run through my head, more than once. All those angstful teenagers, hiding in their rooms, horrified not just by whatever is standing in their way of happiness, but at the unhappiness themselves. That seed is there: there is something wrong with me for not being happy with what I have. There is something wrong with me because I am sad. There is something shameful or deficient in my lack of ability to seek satisfaction and find it.

But...what if that isn't it. What if it's not true. What if they are quite actually doing what they were designed to do. What if we all are just doing what we should be doing. Namely: going, moving, growing, taking part is this ridiculous ballet that allows us to continue to exist, in one way or another. Then happiness, the pursuit of it, becomes a side note, a choice, a side note that allows us to continue, and our failure to find it at times can just be considered a failed task from time to time, an achievement, but not the point, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

That being said, I think there is something very noble in the pursuit to find happiness. Because happiness, as often as not, is what keeps us moving, keeps us going and keeps us growing. It is a mechanism, but it is a glorious mechanism that most effectively can help us meet our goal: to grow.

So yes, we've gone full circle, and yet I still have a point. No, I swear.
If we are not built for happiness, but we are capable of finding it, and we WANT to find it, then we have to make it our discreet goal to get it. And it means we may, very well, have to make a special effort to find out what makes us happy, and make it an even more special priority to fight for it, because it might not fall in our lap or come to you naturally.

And if you know what you need to make you happy then you already have something very special. You have a road map to your motivation, a dotted line to your bliss. And it may be broad, or it may specific. Maybe you just need love, maybe you need non stop lovin.' Maybe you need to be the most famous person in the world, and maybe you just need piles and piles of puppies. But if you know, you know, in your heart of hearts, that a pile of schnauzers will keep you in smiles for the rest of your life, and make you a more productive and effective person, than damnit you should go get a dog. And more importantly, you shouldn't let anyone make you feel bad for knowing that is your bliss.

It is the very definition of sanity to pursue what want if you know it will make you happy. And those who love you, hopefully, will always respect your craziest little urges and your most understandable desires alike, because they respect you, and they want to see you happy. And you should be very wary of anyone who tries to tell you that your goals, your little points of bliss, are greedy or stupid or completely unreasonable. Because even if you will never get your pound of puppies, or your true love, the art of wanting is art of wanting to thrive.

1 comment:

Snowcap said...

I love this. Love. Thank you!