The other day my husband and I got into a discussion. I said that happiness is the ultimate goal in life—that if you’re happy, nothing else matters. My husband maintained that to have a complete life you need love, health, full self-expression, and happiness. I disagree. Take the example of health. Many people have terrible physical problems, yet feel they have a complete life. I have a family member with MS. Her condition really complicates things at times, but she makes a point of not feeling sorry for herself and not wanting others to pity her. She’s content, in spite of her illness. If you’re happy, health is less of an issue than it would be if you were miserable. Happiness negates the effects of the crap life throws at you. Nothing else can do that.
There was an interesting article in the Oregonian several months ago. It stated that people who are happy tend to be less achievement-oriented than people who aren’t. That makes sense to me because most of our striving, in one way or another, is for happiness. When people work for a promotion or a raise, when they save up to buy that new gaming system, or a house in a nice neighborhood, ultimately, they’re doing it because they think this thing they’re reaching for will bring them fulfillment. People who are happy don’t need to keep striving. They’ve already got what they want.
That brings me to the another issue: movie stars. What do many Americans consider the ultimate accomplishment? Fame and fortune. Hollywood types have both, and yet they’re frequently in rehab, getting busted for DWI, or filing for divorce. Most of us can go merrily on our way with the illusion that being rich and/or famous will bring us fulfillment. We never achieve either, so we can continue believing this fantasy. But what happens when the illusion is shattered? I think that’s what drives these actors to make bad decisions. They’ve achieved everything in the eyes of the American public, and yet they still aren’t happy.
Which brings me back to my argument. Happiness is everything. If I’m broke, but I’m happy, what does it matter that I can’t buy a new pair of Levis? If I’m sick but I’m happy, isn’t that enough? The fact is, so many of the things that make us miserable are things we can’t change. We’re never going to have a perfect life, free of conflict, illness, and money woes. But maybe we can be happy in spite of it all.
I’m sticking to my guns. Happiness is the ultimate goal.