Today, the trend is to have everything keyless. Keyless locks, keyless ignition, keyless homes, keyless cars. Yet, there is one key that many are still looking for, the key to happiness.
From time immemorial, humans have searched for happiness. Maybe not the hunter gatherers…. I figured they had it good, once their hunt was successful, and there would be plenty of animals in the wild to catch, there would be many hours of leisure time left for them to enjoy the vast virgin lands, pristine rivers and fresh unpolluted air. They had a keyless entry to happiness.
Socrates was an early philosopher to decide happiness comes from “self knowledge” or wisdom, not from property, or the use of property. He links happiness to virtue, without being virtuous, one cannot attain happiness. Can we be happy if we do not have good health? Can the wise one laugh if he succumbed to hunger?
Two thousand three hundred years ago, the pursuit of happiness, according to Aristotle, requires a lifetime quest for “complete virtue”, i.e. health, wealth, friends, knowledge, generosity, etc. A ledger that keeps a record of a lifetime of experience to tell us whether we achieved happiness. That requires a perfect memory! Aristotle would have frowned on today’s “instant gratifications” such as drugs, alcohol, gluttony. It is not uncommon to read about earthlings who maim fellow humans, and other animals for sexual gratification, starve them, torture them and slowly kill them. That is their path to happiness. Urghhlings.
The religious amongst us may instead agree with Thomas Aquinas and hold dear the beauty of God as the gateway to happiness. Perhaps, it is love that they mean. Without love, can there be happiness? But, those who love do not always find the right person to love. Look at the divorce rates around the world. Many of those who love will find happy divorce lawyers eventually.
The Hedonist confuses pleasure with happiness. Many derive pleasure from food, unfortunately too much good food will lead to health problems. Today, there is much evidence of diseases from gluttony.
Throw away the key to happiness, it comes with too many unintended consequences.
Above is a painting by The Mrs. I made a small request to have her paint a white butterfly resting on my shoulder. After many bruising requests, she finally compromised by adding a butterfly. She paints it fluttering against the bright sun, above my head; not resting on my shoulder and almost unnoticeable. Well, I shall have to interpret the hidden meaning in her painting; the butterfly is about to rest on my shoulder!
“Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it eludes you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes and sits softly on your shoulder.”
– Henry David Thoreau