To me, American society is not a humane place to live, much baser and animalistic. We are driven not by affections for each other, not by care or regard for one another, but on the contrary we are a society compelled by our own lusts to acquire, to conquer, or most important of all to idolized. Every driving force behind a majority of human behavior is derived straight from the desire to increase “self.” We look not for opportunities to help others, but rather for opportunities to help ourselves.
The single universal explanation for all our self-centered endeavors is a simple concept – happiness. Happiness is the elusive breath which we need to live, yet like the air we breathe, we cannot see it or grasp. Yet just like air, it is vital. We try most every way imaginable to create happiness, but all such attempts to create the feeling do not make happiness, at best a mirage or delusion. Happiness, it is no secret, cannot be bought or found by seeking it. Happiness is almost always a fleeting fragile moment somewhere in the future or in the past. Happiness is always a few steps away because we try to grab it. Happiness in many ways is like trying to capture a sunset in a painting. Even if the colors are spot on with the sunset, even if all the shapes are right, the best painting never does justice to the real thing. It lacks the smells that rest on the gentle breeze that tugs at your hair, it is missing the warm feel of the delicate fading rays of sunshine, it lacks the momentary changing nature of life. Hold the best painting up to the real thing, and the painting has no soul in contrast to a sky burning with the falling, fading rays of a summer sun.
Remember the times in your life when you were profoundly happy. Are your memories those of buying a new computer, winning a washer-machine at a raffle? Or are your times of happiness the times you laughed with friends and family over silly things until you cried, or perhaps you traveled from the smog smitten city out into clean country air and you saw the incomprehensibly vast night-sky with your best friend for the first time? Those times when you were happy, were you trying to be, were you thinking about yourself at the time, thinking about your job, your hair, your weight? I doubt it.
Happiness, we find, not while trying to cultivate it, but in the very root of our identities, in the fact that we are humans, we are meant to serve each other – by being kind, compassionate, empathetic, by lifting up those who fall down. Have you ever brightened someone’s day, seen their face pass through winter and into spring. Hear them laugh, or see a pain in their eyes fall away due to something you did? Wasn’t it an amazing feeling? The most certain way to find enjoyment in life is to quit trying to find it for yourself, and try to help others find it. Stop trying to create an emotion, and start building up people. Conquering the world is no great thing. Cultivating compassion and love within a world where people are so often separated from happiness is a great thing. If you want to be happy, lose yourself in the service of others.