Happiness and Human Society


by David Nova

One of the fundamental commonalities that all human beings seem to share is a desire for happiness. Nobody starts life wanting to be miserable and unhappy. As children we have an innate sense of joy, the gift of wonder, and boundless imagination. Heredity and environment can diminish that joy, past lives can color it, but arriving on planet Earth with a blank slate allows our innate spirit of joy to bloom. Ignorance is bliss, after all. 

Then we have to grow up in this deeply flawed world. Our childhood might be littered with trauma. Our adolescence might be confusing and painful. We may grow up numb and guarded as young adults. Yet we continue to hunger for that untainted childhood joy. So we often chase temporal happiness to reclaim it.  Yet there is a gulf between our innate joy and our pursuit of happiness. Our joy comes naturally. Our happiness has to be worked for. Sometimes pure joy is the closest thing we know of true happiness.

A recognition that all human beings share this fundamental desire for happiness and joy should be enough to unify us as a human family, to erase the artificial divisions between us. However, there is a dark aspect to our universal pursuit of happiness that keeps us divided, at war with one another – competition.

Instead of sharing joy we are competing for happiness. We compete for resources, for food, for money, for attention, for love, for recognition, for approval, for sexual desire. Ultimately, we are just competing for an intangible form of energy that feeds our starving soul. We seek the food of happiness to replace the divine source of inner joy that we seem to have lost. It’s like our inner light has been turned off, and we’re desperately seeking and fighting over substitute light bulbs. 

Is our pursuit of happiness a harmless activity? Does our collective cultural pursuit of happiness have consequences? Is it beneficial or detrimental to our planet, to our environment, to our health and well being? 

The cheap consumer goods and electronics we enjoy that are made in sweatshops on the other side of the world. The meat that we eat, killed in monstrously inhumane slaughterhouses. The trash that we produce, shipped off to other counties and other countries. The convenient chemicals we use, which soak in the soil, kill the honeybees, poison our food, and probably give  landscapers cancer. These are extreme yet common examples. 

Our society is built upon a foundation of competition that seeks pleasure and happiness. Our economy is fueled by endless growth, endless debt, and endless consumption, a world chasing after material possessions and material desires in an endless pursuit of elusive happiness. The cosmetic industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the fast-food industry, and the entertainment industry are all driven by the illusion that happiness can be attained externally.  

Yes, our desire for happiness unites us. Our entire world sleeps under the same illusion. We’ve built entire industries around this illusion. We’re running at warp speed collectively chasing down this illusion off the edge of a cliff, because at some point all illusions end. Every temporal pursuit is ultimately a dead end road. 

Our desire for happiness connects us all, but it does not necessarily make us morally good. 

Our desire for happiness can make us self-centered. Our desire for happiness can move us to be selfless, to seek to serve others and improve our world. And our personal desire for pleasure and power can make us self-serving beyond the boundaries of consensus morality and humanity.  

This leads us back to a discussion of alignments and The Law of One.

image source: unsplash.com, non-copyrighted images.

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