Wednesday, April 24, 2024

“In pursuit of Happiness”

Let us try to understand happiness. We all wish to be happy. We want to be in the company of cooperative people with pleasant manners. We wish to maintain healthy feelings of self-worth. We all desire to fulfil aspirations in a world rich in hope.

Many of us have experienced that surge of feeling when you are at a scenic place at the right time and in respectable company doing what you love for the hell of it.

Happiness, for some people, is a long, leisurely walk with a loved one content with a pint of milk and an apple to share while the birds provide first-rate soundtrack.  We all want to be at one with the world we inhabit.

Botswana has not done enough to invest in happiness. If we valued happiness we would have many teachers and colleges of happiness. We would have people whose job is to measure the state of national happiness on a daily basis. Is there adequate room for happiness in the curriculum? Are our homes, schools and workplaces happy spaces?

I like happiness when it is long-lasting and deep. Happiness, like wrinkles, is something you earn. You cannot be happy lying in bed all day. You have to get off your backside and do something useful. You can’t attain happiness by drinking twelve beers or sleeping around and breaking other people’s hearts.

Experience teaches us that human beings cannot be happy when they do not eat regularly, lack decent shelter or when they are imprisoned in tension-filled relationships. To be happy, you need an independent income. You need to be financially and sexually organised.  Good earnings and good family life are the content of happiness.  The narrative of human life is largely about being born, learning or growing, working, intercourse, suffering, laughing and dying. So we may as well have a jolly good time while we are at it.

At no moment, should we forget that poverty, unemployment, political injustice, lop-sided economic and social arrangements continue to disfigure our lives and block the path to happiness.
People are happy when they are in control of their situation. We are social animals but we also need a healthy degree of autonomy. You can’t be happy when any government deems it fit to peep into your underpants while it neglects to apply programmes that make people happy.

Happiness is when you steer your destiny. True happiness is when you are the author of the story of your life. Joy is taking full responsibility for yourself, being at liberty to determine your own destiny. You cannot be happy dancing to someone else’s tune. Who wants to be a puppet on a string disgracing himself or herself at the pleasure of a ruler?

How can you be happy when you have someone pressing your head to the ground with a jack-boot and preventing you from following your own dream? You cannot be happy when you bear the brunt of disaster capitalism and are subjected to the politics of greed and unaccountable power.

Are there happy and satisfied people in your neighbourhood? What is their secret? Where do they buy their happiness? What are you doing to make yourself and others happy in the here and now? Do you think happiness is an afterlife affair?

How does one attain happiness?┬á To reach the glorious city of happiness you have to meander. There is no direct route to happiness. Happiness is a by-product, it comes from the side. Some people’s idea of happiness is tumbling in the sand or organising demonstrations. It takes effort and commitment to embrace happiness. Happiness is a lover who insists on certain standards and values. It is not happiness when it is stale, it has to be fresh.

As a writer, to be happy, I have to be at the work station, assembling words in order to enhance the struggle for happiness, a state of affairs in which human beings flourish in common. Life charms when I do what suits me or what is in my nature to do. Doing my work makes me happy. Joy, I am convinced, is a lovely child of a single parent called labour.

If you look around, you may notice that individuals who do little work but fuss about money and status are more likely to be miserable. They are always envying their neighbours who seem to have a special formula for making it in life.

Miserable people do not want to hear anything about cultivating the inner spirit or socialism because they want to feel special in their unhealthy scramble. They are in the racket of short-cuts and exploiting other people’s energy. They always talk about class and money and “the economy” yet they tremble at the slogan “Workers of the World Unite!”

The minority that lives in opulence while many of their compatriots waste away cannot be happy. The majority cannot be happy when their country’s constitution is written in a language they are not comfortable with.
You can’t be happy if you are goaded into working hard and producing more for little pay by some system of surveillance and control. Miserable people wrestle in the mud and squander talent and time jostling for position and pay and not for the beauty of their work and the quality of their products. Miserable workplaces create more misery in the national body politic.

Happy people have the presence of mind to attend to the good things of the world. They do something about solidarity, progress, human rights, fair distribution of resources and power and decent education for all. They have enough self-discipline not to be controlled by social superiors and ghostly things such as the “economy.”

Happiness has never been about hugging one’s chains. We cannot achieve happiness by pretending to love pain. Living in phony harmony is not a recipe for happiness. You cannot be happy when you have distress for a neighbour. You cannot be happy when the radio tells you that there is no alternative to your misery.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper