Lately I have been pondering the nature of happiness, and one way of looking at it is by considering the opposite, that is, what is the root cause of unhappiness?
Feelings are as I see it, abstract creations that appear in different ways to different people, and yet I would say that there are common threads to investigate by which one may gain some manner of clarity. One such may be “emptiness” or a lack of purpose, which I would describe as the absence of meaning underlying the actions partaken.
At least for me, when I feel unhappy, this is something that I recognize as a commonality. Emptiness is not an easy thing to combat however, for the only one who can decide what is meaningful is oneself; that is according to what is in accord with things and ideas that one feels are inherently important.
The problem as I see it is that we are constantly faced with “illusions” about what is important, and that these illusions and misrepresentations of ideals stack onto each other to create a strong facade that blinds us to that which is actually of meaning to us. It is when this facade slips that the emptiness behind our actions become clear… okay, so let me elaborate on this point; what do I mean by “illusions”? Basically this may be external validation such as praise and money; not of any real substance to ourselves, but can easily become “dummy goals” to strive towards.
Why are you doing this? Is it because you actually want to, because you inherently care about that which is brought about by your actions? If yes, then this is great, and I am very happy for you. Oftentimes however, I think that we do things because we are under the illusion that we care, when in actuality, we don’t. Such may be the reality of many “jobs” that people do. Money is good right? Well, sure it is nice to have money, but it is not “good” in and of itself, and it carries no real meaning to oneself, because it is of an external nature, and true meaning must come from the inside. You can be filthy rich and yet be unhappy… you can live in poverty and be very happy.
Things in themselves are not good or bad; they just… are. It seems to me that it is extremely common to be mistaken on this point, to live life as if external things actually were a goal to strive towards, and then when the facade slips… when the emptiness shines through, to feel a need of distraction. Great then that we have phones, movies, games… endless arrays of distractions.
Have we ever lived in a society with this much distraction? Where so few seem to be living in the moment? Well, more on this some other time… for now, let’s wrap this up. What is the root cause of unhappiness? As I see it, one such root cause may be “emptiness”, that which in turn may be caused by external “dummy goals” and fed/upheld by distractions.