With many thanks to my guest blogger who wishes to remain nameless.
Happiness is a subject that continues to acquire immense popularity. Many philosophers across the globe now focus on happiness. Besides, the ordinary masses are exposed to a wide range of philosophical opinions on happiness.
Still and all, the essential question remains unanswered: are we happy?
Most of us relish in philosophical quotes about happiness. Yet, little do we know that the path to happiness is buried deep within ourselves.
The philosophers entertain various opinions about this subject with an eternal value. Varied, and variegated, they could be, yet deep within these analyses seem to converge multiple tracks into one. Friedrich Nietzsche, a celebrated German philosopher, identifies happiness as the feeling that power increases – that resistance is being overcome.
The man has a natural craving for power. What is power, on the other hand? In simple terms, it is the desire for controlling something uncontrollable. Nature is beyond the man’s control. And the man craves very much to control the uncontrollable to suit his requirements. Because he thinks it will provide him with enough happiness. On the contrary, it offers hardly any happiness. The more he tries to be in control of the uncontrollable, the more it would drive him insane.
That’s where John Stuart Mill, who campaigned for liberalism, fits in. He said: “I have learned to seek my happiness by limiting my desires, rather than in attempting to satisfy them.”
How can you gain happiness by limiting your desires? That statement seems quite paradoxical. But that is the ultimate reality. The more you try to control the uncontrollable, the more you get tired albeit with a little bit of happiness. The man created civilisations to triumph over the uncontrollable nature. It seems to give them some kind of happiness. But in the long run, he falls into a worse quagmire. The civilisations are built at a cost. And that cost comes at various prices such as climate change.
This does not mean, however, that civilisations are unnecessary. It is a necessity, but with limitations. The man must know his limits and boundaries. Entertaining desires is neither evil nor sinful. All the same, going beyond the limits will pull the human away from the happiness. This reality can apply to anything in life from minute aspects of food and beverage to large-scale aspects of houses. Any yummy morsel remains full of flavour as long as you munch through it within limits. But when you exceed the limit, not only the appetite fades away, but you might experience hazardous health complications as well. This is where Mill’s quote fits in properly.
Happiness comes within limits rather than satisfying the desires.
He is supported by a Greek philosopher, Socrates, who lived centuries before him. Says he: “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
Of course, both Mill and Nietzsche shall have derived inspiration for their interpretations about happiness from Socrates.
If the world today needs happiness, they should learn the art of enjoying less. In other words, they should be content with their powerlessness in the face of powerful nature.