Early last month I went to see Happy: The Movie (trailer below). Like Hare Krishna books and gifs of puppies, I have a soft-spot for the subject of happiness. It’s what we are all searching for, no? The rich want to get richer to have more stuff and more experiences in order to be happier, right? When it comes down to it this is the fundamental question: What makes us happy?
The film was better than I thought it would be. I (wrongly) assumed it would have more of a minimalist / ‘live simply’ slant. As in, ‘look at these poor, happy people and these unhappy rich people’ but it had more depth than that. I especially enjoyed the discussion with researchers on the science of happiness. The conclusions on what makes people happy- mainly having passion(s), close friends and family to share with and be supported by- are obvious. It got me thinking how these statements relate to the ‘live simply’ mantra. I have always interpreted ‘live simply’ as consume less and lower your impact on the world. Connecting it with the film’s messages I now see it also as ‘think simply’. I don’t know about you, but I always find ways to complicate simplicity.
A few weeks later I was on a day-trip to Mexico on motorcycles with my friend Mark (the one who had the gnarly crash). We’ve been friends since we were teenagers and we’ve both had a plethora of life experiences. We got talking and came up with a statement that went something like this: We wish we could be happy drinking beer and watching football. Imagine if it was that simple! I’ve always been slightly envious of those whose joy comes with such ease. Mark’s fun and happiness come from racing motorcycles at over 100 MPH. Significantly more time and energy to get the same result as the person kicking back on a Sunday with a beer.
But, Mark has found something that makes him happy. And he recognizes that it does. And makes changes when parts of it no longer do. Maybe our brains cannot be as simple as we’d sometimes like, for a reason. Maybe those with their couch seat belts locked in aren’t as happy as they or I think? Here we go with the thinking and complicating…
Another part of the film discusses being a part of bettering the world as a way to be happier. I have felt this. I’ve spent my entire adult life doing it and it’s not always a path to happiness. Maybe the average person who works at a soup kitchen goes home and thinks, ‘ah, how rewarding to help those poor people,’ but my mind doesn’t work that way. I go home and think, ‘why the fuck is there poverty and how can I change that?’
Is ignorance bliss? Yikes. I hope not. My point, which seems to be moving away from me the more I write, is that maybe we’re not letting ourselves be happy. We ‘get’ what’s happening in London. We’re mad. But most of us have what we need to be happy. Passion. Friends. Family. That anger that makes us fight, can and should be joyous (does everything I write end up sounding like Crimethinc wrote it?). And maybe just everyday life doing what you love with people you care about is enough. Right?