Secret of Unhappiness
The pursuit of happiness is pretty common. Even if somebody says that he is instead pursuing wealth, or stardom, or fame, it’s still the same thing, for these are surely being sought because of the promise of happiness that they ostensibly hold. The more interesting point is that while people are clearly aware about the pursuit of happiness, all around us we only find people working hard to attain unhappiness. It would appear that we are all in a common pursuit of unhappiness and doing pretty well at that! Many of us even have very powerful tools at our disposal, to manufacture pure high-grade unhappiness.
There are hundreds of them but some of the common ones are:
1. A strong conviction that all the others in my world are unacceptable as they are and need to change. It's pretty simple. While I obviously will remain as I am, it is for the others to change (or be changed by me), so that all the causes of my unhappiness would vanish and I would attain that perfect state of happiness that I so desire. Of course, what we need to keep ignoring is the reality that it was always an endless never-ending wait for others to change. But that's a minor issue and as long as the conviction is strong, we will clearly see in every aspect of our lives - family, friends, workplace - the changes that others need to undergo. A permanent state of unhappiness is thus assured.
2. An operating style that can be summed up as “I will exercise unbridled power while others around me will shoulder all the responsibilities.” So I will issue directions while others will do all the hard work. The rewards will of course be for me, because without my brilliance, the lesser-endowed mortals wouldn’t work hard and produce the results. Of course everybody else in the system is also thinking similarly and whoever manages to succeed in this quest is in continuous fear of being toppled from that vantage position. This is a fantastic tool that produces widespread unhappiness very effectively.
3. A prescriptive approach to life. What it implies is that I know what everybody else should be doing. “He should not have done like that,” or “why can’t she do like that?” Of course the corollary is that there are no prescriptions for me and I am free to do whatever I want (because I have reasons for what I do). This tool is very closely related to tool number one and the difference is subtle. Obviously results are guaranteed.
4. Total faith in one’s experience. Those who possess this tool can be heard saying, “I believe only what I see.” (Never mind the subjective filters that colour one’s experience). This has two corollaries. “What I have seen is the truth and the reality and there is no scope for reconsideration or re-examination.” The other corollary is “What others see will not be acceptable until I also see it.” Perfect foolproof system to deliver continuous unhappiness.
5. A vague understanding that I will live into the distant future (if not forever). Death is a remote event that doesn’t need to be thought about for now. Therefore, I don’t need to think about it or factor it in as far as my decisions and behaviour is concerned. This is a very essential tool because anybody who assumes that life is ephemeral or that today could well be my last day, will find it difficult to inflict high doses of unhappiness on himself and others.
6. A conviction that I can grow at the expense of others by guile and subterfuge. The corollary is “smart people don’t work – they make others work.” Rank opportunism or plain insensitivity, perhaps, but it’s not to be taken lightly, because it has high damage causing potential. Productive work by which one can be useful to himself and society is gradually substituted with games and politics which leaves everybody worse off and with a bad taste in the mouth. This tool is closely related to tool number two and works well in tandem. It's a very popular tool too and when large numbers adopt it, produces brilliant results.
7. A nature that prompts me to have my way all the time. When combined with it’s corollary – “nobody can ever have his way with me’ – you have a deadly weapon that will keep happiness miles away. Life will remain a permanent contest and duel with everybody and everything around and the peace and quiet that allow happiness to take roots will never find a toehold. You will enjoy fool-proof round-the-clock protection from love and the joy of sharing and working together in relationships. This is a must acquire tool and a lot of successful practitioners of the art of unhappiness have it in their arsenal.
8. Holding onto my bag of memories of miseries, slights, and hurt and not letting go of it. It involves periodically taking out the bag and examining its contents so that one is intensely aware of the darker side of life and therefore justified in taking a stand on how horrible and unfair the world was and will remain to be. Care has to be taken to ensure that memories of the good things that happened are scrupulously kept out of the bag and either trashed, forgotten or explained away to trivialise it. This is a very powerful and effective tool and absolutely indispensable if one is serious about attaining a state of permanent unhappiness.
It will be evident that this is not an exhaustive list and any serious practitioner will be aware that there are numerous other tools to ensure unhappiness. The idea is only to show how much we strive to ensure unhappiness while imagining that we are on the road to personal happiness. So that, we are forced to ask ourselves honestly “ What am I doing?” and “What do I want?”
Finally, it may be worth considering whether true happiness can be found only when all pursuits are abandoned. In which case, the pursuit of happiness becomes a contradiction in terms.