There’s an age old adage that goes something like this: you never get what you want. While not true of everything (one time, I wanted this video game, so I bought it) I contend that it is true of the most important thing of all: unequivocal happiness. In order to be happy, I argue that one needs true love in their life, at least one other person who understands him or her, and to be satisfied with oneself. You can never be truly, singularly happy. In fact, happiness is but an illusion. Maintaining happiness is maintaining a cleverly told lie. In order to be “happy,” one must deceive oneself into believing they have all three of the criterion mentioned above.
True love is (let’s face it, kiddies) damn near impossible to find. Love between man and woman is impossible because women are crazy and can’t be understood, predicted, or depended upon. Or, at least, not any of the women I’ve met and know well enough to pass judgment on. Another rather common trait among women I’ve observed is an affinity for manipulation. Women enjoy lying to you, taking advantage of you, coercing you, and using you to their own ends. However, you kind of have to let them do these things (being a nice guy, I always try to give ladies the benefit of the doubt) to you, and until the very end they’ll try and convince you they aren’t lying to you, or using you, or manipulating you…let’s be honest, they’re not (honest). But, I’m not just talking about the love shared between partners. I’m also talking about the kind of love that should be bestowed upon a child by their parents, the kind of love that should exist in families. Even in “good” families, I doubt if true love exists. Do the parents love their children regardless of what kind of homeless, drug-addicted bums the kids might become? Do the siblings love each other without jealousy or contempt? Show me a family with true love and I’ll show you a family with subtle dysfunction. I prefer my family to that kind: at least my family is predictably crappy and I can depend upon them to suck; rather than having a family that you can’t count on for anything.
Perhaps true love is unattainable because humans can’t be understood by other humans. This is due in part to the fact that everyone is unique, in some way. One person’s concept of love is not the same as another person’s; one person’s concept of happiness is not the same as another person’s. Yet there are no words that exist to paint these varying degrees of love and happiness, and so at best we get by with crude generalizations of our feelings and emotions. How can one ever be understood when, at best, one can only stumble (drunkenly) across the gap between minds, creating a path to “understanding” by bludgeoning away with the crude implements of language? I once had someone who I thought understood me very well. Yet, then, I met another person who I thought understood me in a different way, and better than the last. And again I met someone else who yet understood me in another way, and better than the two before. Then I had an epiphany: no one can understand you if you can’t understand yourself. And who among us truly understands themself? Show me someone who understands themself, and I’ll show you the wisest person I’ve ever known.
I’ve always maintained that happiness stems from self satisfaction. If you are not satisfied with yourself, how can you ever hope to achieve happiness? To stake your happiness on anything else, be it success in business, in love, or in friendship, seems futile and foolhardy. Yet, how can you be satisfied with yourself if you want love and can’t find it? If you desire the truest of friends and have none? If your ambition is to be successful and all you can muster is failure? How, then, will you ever be satisfied with yourself? Self satisfaction is, to a point, dependent on the previous two criterion: finding true love and being understood. Unless you are the rare type of individual who can be content even without success, love, or understanding. Through the goal of self-betterment (and the upholding of virtues such as honesty and integrity) I’ve found that I can be fairly content with myself. Even still I want for love, I want for understanding, and I want for success. I seem unable to achieve any of these goals. When not thinking on my failures, I fancy myself ‘happy’ and content.
I conclude that happiness is merely an illusion. In order to maintain it, you must ignore the fact that you’re missing some (or all) of the criterion, or more dangerous still, lie to yourself and tell yourself you do have all the criterion! Lie to yourself, and tell yourself that she really does love you, that your friends really do understand you, and that there’s nothing you could do to make yourself more content. These lies are dangerous because they ignore the root of the problem, the root of your unhappiness. By ignoring your problems they fester and become worse, and you set yourself up only for disappointment. I would rather live in a state of an honest unhappiness than a perpetual sham of a happiness.