On happiness


Seasons Greetings everyone.

I hope you all are keeping well and that you have had a break from work, boring colleagues or for that matter away from annoying relatives.

While scouring the net, I saw a post about unwritten rules on happiness and what struck me as odd was that the poster reduced happiness to the little question of money writing things such as a 50 and 5000 shillings watch both tell time but can’t buy you more hours, which while being generally true is not what we think about when we buy stuff. He writes, for example

1. A $50 watch and a $5000 watch both can tell you the time. But neither can buy you more time. So focus on living each day and each moment fully. And that buys you time and happiness.

2. A $20,000 car and a $200,000 car can both take you to your destination. But neither can take you to your dream. So focus each day on getting a closer to that. And one day you’ll reach it.

Which all sound interesting but only on the surface. The day I meet a person buying an expensive watch because they hope to buy an additional 2 hours in a day, I will report. Until then, this advice while almost looking really deep is nonsense.

I read somewhere, I think it was in Courage to be disliked, that we are happy generally when we feel useful to others. Happiness is fleeting. And as such buying things cannot really solve the problem. We will just need the next big thing: we become like the city of Dubai always coming up with the next big thing to build.

Between contentment and happiness what should we pursue?

Happiness, like all gifts of Fortuna, are never constant. Today one is happy, tomorrow they are miserable. Maybe detachment is what we should seek and say with Arjuna or is it Krishna, that we should look with the same eye a mound of gold and a mound of Ash, a dog and the man who eats the dog.

Be happy. Seek detachment.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

57 thoughts on “On happiness

  1. Ark says:

    And what if your dream is a $5,000 watch and a $200,000 car?
    : >)

    At the moment contentment for me is digging out some really nice home grown potatoes!
    This I did yesterday, by the way, and today steak and chips is on the menu for lunch. Well …. no steak for me, obviously, but for the rest of the crew.
    Although I will partake of the chips!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. johnfaupel says:

    Happiness, for some, has unfortunate connotations. Harmony, balance and contentment – within’ and without – may be more basic needs in all of us. I’ve seen it in small, isolated ‘band’ communities, who know nothing about money, nationhood, even ownership and personal possessions, so perhaps the rest of the World are heading in the wrong direction.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I think we are heading in the wrong direction.
      Happy Holidays John and a definitely a better 2021

      Like

    • basenjibrian says:

      Some say the “original sin” was agriculture? Which has led to so many things in our “civilized” existence. Was the parable of the Garden of Eden really a story of the loss of the innocence of original hunting and gathering/small band life?

      Yet other anthropologists claim this ancestral life was indeed short and brutal and violent??? Modern bands do not always seem very peaceful?

      Like

  3. Tish Farrell says:

    I’m joining Ark in the ‘happiness is a freshly dug spud’ corner. It also extends to carrots, courgettes, tomatoes etc. And I find great joy in turning my compost heaps, and even greater joy when they’ve rotted down into something useable. And then there’s more excitement when I use it mulch the plot. Spotting ravens flying by is also a great source of happiness, and finding the first wild orchids on Windmill Hill.
    Wishing you lots of happiness, Mak, for 2021. I’m thinking you must be very happy when you’re whizzing down the Rift Valley on your bike. That thought also makes me happy. Way-hay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      There are many small activities that make us happy. And taking care of compost is one such.
      Cruising down the rift valley on a bike on a hot day is on another level. A mixture of suffering and joy

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tish Farrell says:

        Ah now there’s a paradox. Perhaps the presence of suffering informs the apprehension/experience of joy 🤫

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          Its a paradox.
          When I am struggling uphill or with crosswind I begin to ask myself why am I doing this but then I get home and feel so good. I can talk about a ride over and over. The way it makes me feel and all.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Tish Farrell says:

            Elation – I can feel it from here – 6,000 miles away.

            Like

          • basenjibrian says:

            Cycling is also the only thing keeping the consequences of my drug addiction at bay. The drug in question, of course, is sugar, and vigorous exercise was THE treatment before they synthesized insulin. I am of course in serious denial, but,,,

            Like

            • makagutu says:

              Cycling is a good thing.
              Exercise, I think, is the one thing standing between me and depression

              Like

              • basenjibrian says:

                Yep! Plus, I have incurable wanderlust. Which is why I usually ride solo (especially now) because it allows me to just randomly “go places” without a real plan! Like today’s casual ride along the bayside turned into 11% grade hillside neighborhood streets! I forgot how HILLY the Peninsula south of San Francisco is!

                I actually love our winters for riding. To me, the 50s F) are ideal cycling temps! We need more rain, though. 😦 California almost always needs more rain!

                Like

  4. ladysighs says:

    From now on I’m going to keep my $millions under my mattress.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Here’s one. Neither a freewill or a 100,000 dollar will can truly make you free of being who and what you are; so just be you. Happy holidays my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Neil Rickert says:

    We all have our own ways of finding happiness.

    I would go with the 50 shilling watch and the $20,000 car. I never saw the point in buying expensive stuff just to show off. Give me a watch that keeps good time and a car that gets me from point A to point B, and that’s all I need.

    I guess I really find happiness in thinking about interesting questions. I never outgrew that curiosity that we come with as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      You must have had a good education. Many people by the time they are done with school or is it school done with them lack curiosity. They are only left to ask how much they will get paid and when is the next pay rise.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Neil Rickert says:

        It may have a lot to do with parents. Some parents actively discourage curiosity, because they find it annoying when children ask questions. Fortunately, my parents instead told me to go find out for myself, and that got me into the habit.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          This is something I can identify with. My father by not insisting on following or being enslaved by tradition made it possible for me to challenge received opinion. And reading allowed me to walk on the shoulders of those who had gone before me.
          Curiosity is a good thing. Scepticism is another good.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Ron says:

    I submit that happiness is a function of gratitude, because I’ve yet to meet an ungrateful person who is genuinely happy. Nor does it depend on material wealth. In fact, when it comes to riches, I side with Thoreau’s view that “a man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Why, Ron, I agree with you. I bet I haven’t met an ungrateful person who was happy.
      I think money/ material wealth just adds the potential or provides some comfort.

      Like

      • Ron says:

        I agree that happiness will be in short supply until you’re able to satisfy your basic needs for food, shelter and clothing. But I was referring to the endless pursuit and acquisition of material wealth above and beyond those basic needs. Having more stuff doesn’t lead to greater happiness. In fact, it usually leads to more anxiety because the additional storage, maintenance and insurance costs often outweigh any added enjoyment they might provide.

        Like

  8. john zande says:

    Seeing happy animals is happiness.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nan says:

    At my age, good health makes me happy.

    As for the mundane things, money (after the necessities mentioned by Ron) is simply a means to whatever end you seek. Whether that end brings happiness is something only you can know.

    P.S. Digging potatoes never did it for me.🥴

    Like

  10. basenjibrian says:

    I think moderation is an important factor in happiness. Something I must confess I have always struggled with. Good food, for example, can make me happy. But when one has a severe addiction to certain foods, it can lead to actual misery.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Good food, good company and a good book coupled with good health brings happiness.

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        However, I do (as a joke/fantasy/silly thing) play the lottery. I have to admit I am a bit of a “car guy” so I would probably buy an Aston Martin or a Ferrari. 🙂 And I would be the Jay Leno of bicycles, as I love them and could never stop at just one!

        Clothes? Don’t care that much (except for cycling kits). HUGE mansions? Nah. Seeing all those monster houses advertised in the real estate section…the thought just makes me tired. BUt I would like to buy a small cottage. And maybe a beach house? But 7000 square foot mansions? Why?

        Like

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