The first thing I notice and file away about people is their physical characteristics. The next thing I notice is how happy they appear to be. Why the former happens is fairly easy to understand: my eyes naturally provide me with my first interaction with a person, typically before I hear them talk. But the latter gives me pause.
For what am I searching when I look for people’s happiness? Am I more likely to immediately form a positive opinion of someone if they’re happy? Am I less likely to approach them if they look unhappy? What does their happiness mean? Why is it important? I’ve reflected. I’ve observed people. I’ve questioned people. I’ve gone farther into the issue. What is happiness? If happiness is something I should not seek for in myself, should I be seeking for it in other people, if that is truly what I’m doing by observing their mood?
And….surprise, surprise! I’ve come up with no answers. I have more questions, random fragments of thoughts, and an overwhelming urge to dig deeper.
As a working definition of “happy,” I will say feeling or showing pleasure and contentment. Because that’s google’s definition, and I’m lazy. Particularly, though, focusing on the “feeling” aspect, because posturing is a whole ‘nother topic. (Though very likely an interesting one.)
To skip the majority of my thought process (it’s long (and not very concise (cause I bet you don’t see how Bruce Springsteen or jelly beans tie into this))), happiness is not something I should be seeking in others or for myself. *waves at all the people whose thoughts I just stole*
To not skip my thought process and also plagiarize less and also be more confusing, let’s talk about jelly beans. As always, ‘t’is an imperfect analogy. (Not that you would have noticed that.) Jelly beans are delightful. Kinda. I don’t actually like them much. But I see why people would like them. Anyway, jelly beans are delightful. And yet if you seek them out, most likely that will be when your brothers decide they need jelly beans. If that doesn’t happen, you’ll end up eating yourself sick, if you’re me, at least. And after you’re sick, you’ll realize how foolish and selfish you were to want the jelly beans for yourself in the first place.
Either way, finding or not finding, they won’t taste good. Especially if you don’t find them. Moral of the story: don’t seek for happiness. (Read it one or twelve times more. The moral is more apparent then.)
And then let’s talk about Bruce Springsteen. Most particularly his song “If I Should Fall Behind.” I admit, this song is not a very good example for this proof, but it helped me consider this in the first place. The moral of that song is that men typically have longer legs and can take longer steps than women, so you have to keep waiting up for each other. Except not. Mostly it’s saying that you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you (if we disregard the romance aspect and think about it more basically in terms of people). So…it would have been easier to just say “the Golden Rule,” but I didn’t do that, for some reason.
NOW. We established that happiness isn’t something we should seek for ourselves. So…if we use the Golden Rule, we also shouldn’t seek for happiness for other people. That doesn’t quite make sense with what I said originally, but don’t worry, I can explain myself out of it. Probably.
My seeking for happiness in other people is because I want them to be happy. It’s an odd and inexplicable (except in all the ways it can be explained) personality quirk. So when I look for happiness in other people, it’s because I want to help them if they aren’t happy. But unhappiness isn’t bad, because who said we need to be happy, anyway? (Except everybody. But everybody’s wrong. My mommy said so.)
People are bad. Seriously, actually. It’s not like we deserve happiness (though I’m pretty sure it’s arguable that we deserve ice cream, so…). In fact, we deserve Hell. Or so I’ve heard. I’m still wrapping up my conversation with the wall to get a definite answer on that one. So it actually demonstrates a decent understanding one of oneself to know that oneself is bad and doesn’t deserve jelly beans. Which would, of course, make anyone unhappy. But like I said, jelly beans aren’t always good for you, so it’s okay that you don’t always get them, and, thus, are sometimes unhappy. Because Bruce Springsteen, that also means that I don’t need to be trying to constantly infuse happiness in other people. Which is slightly distressing and slightly relieving. Anyway.
I think I have now definitively proved that it is unnecessary and unfair to look for happiness in other people.
(Also, I promise I was in my right mind when I wrote this.)