On Happiness


David Fischman, is an acclaimed author. Among the many fascinating studies and statistics that Mr. Fischman presents, one struck me in particular: By age 10 the average child in the Western world has seen one million advertisements. Denmark, Fischman pointed out, was rated in a recent study as the country with the happiest people, and is also the country with the least amount of public advertising. Fischman suggests that perhaps happiness is directly linked to the amount of options we are offered. Those with higher exposure to advertisements hawking all types of wares, covet more and are therefore become more miserable not be able to fulfill all their desires. In Denmark, where they are not that exposed to advertisements and all the options they offer, people are more content with what they have. Confirming the idiom: Happiness results from being at peace with wanting what you have, instead of having what you want.

Thus, happiness is not a verb, but a noun. It is not driven by actions, acquisitions – going out and buying something. Objects can make us happy for a while, but happiness is a state of being. And each of us is inherently a happy person. We were born happy. Just witness children. And then due to sad attitudes of those around us we learn to become unhappy, and the inherent happiness in our souls gets buried beneath layers of despondency driven by many forces – insecurities, fears, and yes, also all those options that marketers are selling us, promising… happiness.

The key to happiness is in accessing your inner self and realizing that whatever you acquire in life is a blessing and an opportunity. The “pursuit of happiness” is something we strive for daily. We don’t find happiness on a beach in Barbados but in the challenges, self-incurred or otherwise, that we face on a daily basis. It’s in climbing to the summit of Everest without oxygen even though it’s many times harder. Or in training to run a marathon for the first time. It’s not in what it is, but in the innate sense of personal fulfillment – and happiness – that it achieves.

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