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Trying to be happy is really hard work

Updated on November 18, 2012

I would sigh and fidget if I am compelled to queue up for more than five minutes, looking haplessly at the long sinuous line of people of heterogeneous cultures and races. When I am buying just a few commodities from the supermarket, it is undoubtedly irksome to wait for so long just to hand over a few notes and leave. I wish I could just take them and go, but with the ubiquitous and daunting cameras around, I have to be embroiled in this predicament. So I waited for my turn anxiously, muttering expletives to myself, wishing that the cashier could do their tasks expeditiously.

And worst of all, I became irate when I had submitted a short story to an online literary magazine, only to be met with a blank inbox for weeks and months. They did not reply to me as promised, and they usually took five months or thereabouts to give a reply on whether they accept or decline my submission. Come on, it is just one click, editors!

I finally realized that the more our material cravings are met, the more viscerally perturbed we will be, until we are at the apex of the mountain on which no other human beings can conquer and where all the things in the world are found.

The question is: How to be happy? Have millions of dollars? Have a car? Have a private property? Being the boss of a famous company?

It is a common occurrence in the subway that people who just went into the train cabins got so involuntarily fatigued that they faint onto the plastic seats, oblivious to the passengers around them. I don't know what kind of illness is that, but from the informal banters I had with my friends, one of them quipped that the people being described above have a syndrome that automatically switches off their mental functions because they could not tolerate the tremendous speed at which the train is traveling.

What kind of explanation is that? He might be giving himself a flimsy excuse for being a hypocrite, but anyway, the lethargic passengers must be in low spirits, were it not for their lackadaisical expressions. There is a litany of reasons anyone can reel off, and one of them is that, they are not happy.

Don't ask me how to be happy. No one can tell you that. The answer lies within you.

Though it is impossible to cut off all the links we have had with the real world, it is still possible to be happy, with one condition: it is transient. We cannot bring happiness with us when we are dead, so there is a limit to the time we can exist happily. I am not implying that you should be inebriated though, but that you should find avenues to make yourself happy, because we cannot afford to live in a bleak and callous world, riddled with monotonous, mechanical people doing their things like clockwork.

I make myself happy by watching slapstick and burlesque shows. Sure, I did guffaw, but when the show ended and I resumed back to my studying, I couldn't be happy. Instead, I have to be serious, lugubrious perhaps, but not having even an iota of happiness (that is not to say that I hate studying). Since we couldn't retain our happiness, much like knowledge for solving integration and differentiation questions, for the long run, trying to be genuinely happy takes a lot of practice. This may involve reading self-help books during your vacation, or involve playing online games and watching your opponents die before your very eyes with a lunge.

Where there's a will, there's a way. You can be happy, or not, and it all depends on your attitude, milieu and mother nature.


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