The Pursuit of Happiness

This piece is far from related to the record from Kid Cudi or the film from Will Smith. Ironically, Will did play a part in the inspiration and inception of what I will speak on today. In his dominant run on Instagram he posted a video speaking on how we as people are programmed to seek negativity, while he was out of the country. He explains how he’d just gotten in, and turned on the news but immediately turns it off due to the negative content on the program. He speaks on being where he was and just being in such a good space, but realizing the news was bringing him down and feeling the urge to turn the TV back on for some reason. He states it was like he needed to brought down, like he needed to be upset about something. He spoke on how we have that programmed in us, and that we need to shake it, then the video ends. This has been a video I show people constantly because I see it so often and can’t understand why.

We all know those people. We all have people in our lives to some extent no matter how small, that just seem to bask and thrive in negativity. The one that for some reason needs to throw off the balance of a moment because things are going too well. For some this is genuinely a conscious act and effort, and maybe I’m not speaking on them. I’m actually more concern about the ones that do without even being aware of it because it has become such a part of their nature. This has actually put me in deep thought. It made me realize that happiness isn’t actually the goal. Happiness can be in short spurts and easily aligned to instant gratification because it doesn’t last for too long. Not to add some people can and will find happiness in doing things with malice because it makes them feel good in the moment. That’s not the goal. The goal is joy which in my opinion is everlasting happiness. That weeds out the instant gratification and self-serving moments. Mainly because it’s impossible to maintain happiness in those moments consistently.

As I got back to thinking on this the most troubling part is why do we gravitate towards it? It’s one of those things that makes me wonder. We can be completely content and seemly need to be brought down. In most of us it’s going for things or people we know aren’t good for us, but us choosing to ignore that. Most people just chalk it up to being human, but is it really human nature to bring ourselves down? It’s also in the moments where we do or say things and just wonder why would I be that way? It seems to simply just be how we are programmed. For those that I spoke on earlier it’s even worse. They will push and perpetuate negativity for no other reason than just wanting to be negative. But, why are we chasing that? Why aren’t we chasing joy, it’s definition, it’s retention, it’s maintenance?

This week I’ve have struggled with a few things that I associate with this. I’ve watched social media do two things that really just made me question our society. The first was after the murder of XXXtentacion, there were many people that celebrated his death. Of course he was a young man with some trouble in his past, with accusations of some truly horrible things, but being happy someone was killed? Is that what we have become? That’s downright evil man, and there’s no other way for me to put it. The second thing was the abundance of people happy that Liangelo Ball wasn’t drafted. Once again how can people that he hasn’t encountered or impacted personally find happiness in that? Gelo is just a young man pursuing his passion, far more than many of us could say we did at his age, and we have folks rejoicing in a setback of his. These aren’t the only situations, but I’m sure you could see where I’m going with this. Is this the plight of humanity? Bound to create our own demise due to not being able to just be happy? Being pessimists claiming to be realists due to the things that we have been guided to cherish and pursue over actual joy?

It’s obvious this connects to a lack of true happiness and joy in our lives, but could it be more than that? Could it be many of us don’t know what genuine happiness is? That we put happiness in existential and superficial things? Is it that we don’t know how to find joy in many things outside of ourselves? Or is it simply just the direction of the world we currently live in? I honestly don’t have all the answers for this one. All I know is I personally have committed to pushing that priority with any and everyone I encounter.

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