Life is hard, no one said it was easy. Yet we are given constant reminders in mass media of a “good life” that is enjoyed by a select few. This promotes and secures a perspective that motivates us toward an image of said “good life”. It is a lie, it is false. In pursuit of these standards, people live and die. It is this standard that allows us to declare that we are rich or poor, with or without, making it or not.
What do we really need to have a “good life”? The philosopher Epicurious is often misinterpreted as promoting a lotus-eating lifestyle, but if we examine his work more closely he theorized that a good life can be achieved through simple things, including moderation. Notably among his path to happiness is having time for reflection, or living an examined life, having a few close friends, and spending quality time with them. He makes a distinction between the internal and the external. This distinction helps us divide our pursuit of happiness in two to achieve maximum effectiveness. It’s important not to overlook the reality that the external pursuit alone actually leads to much more unhappiness. This happens as we fail often to achieve “enough” external goods to be happy. Attempting to fulfill our internal needs with external pursuits also will leave us very unhappy.
When I look around at the world and people in it, I see fellow humans in isolation. Waiting rooms, coffee shops, anywhere. Perhaps we are on the brink of the realization that, despite all of our amazing possessions and our ability to make them serve our internal needs – “the selfie”, Social Media, instant gratification, the ability to receive feedback on the broadcast of your personal identity filtered and moderated as best we can to maximize positivity, attention, love, most of our internal needs. Perhaps we are on the brink of seeing this pursuit as it truly is – farse, fallacy, misguided simulation ultimately leading to our darkest despair, loneliness and fear.
What then should we pursue to make it in life, to have a good life? Is it mounds of cash? The perfect credit score? A million likes, or hearts, or stars… or “friends”. Maybe only in moderation while admitting it is folly. External happiness, such as pride, achievement, material possessions, proverbial trophies, are but the icing on a cake of a life of happiness. In fact, I would bet, that the whole internal person cannot attain external happiness if his internal happiness isn’t satisfied. While the two spheres inform one another and cannot exist exclusive of the other, that much is true. Finding a balance is important – too often we think we can be satisfied by the external alone.
In fact, my life is an example of a failure to find internal happiness, and the pursuit of external gratification to replace the internal – for me it has been an aggressive pursuit of employment satisfaction, in an attempt to fulfill both the internal and the external. For my efforts, I have lost happiness in both spheres. I have no external security, only insecurity, and I have no internal security, only insecurity. I am growing though, I am seeing the error in my ways and am making changes to be happy. I have been stripped of my employment multiple times because I failed to be internally happy – sought external rewards and disregarded the values of internal happiness such as relationships, communication, and commitment, interpersonal. These choices of mine have cost me and my family. These choices have embarrassed me in the sight of peers and colleagues.
Then I met Savanah, I married Savanah, Savanah and I began planning our child’s birth. Through time I have found that what Savanah had that I didn’t was internal satisfaction or internal happiness. She had quality relationships at work, she seemed to handle somethings better then I could and she seemed happier. Sure she isn’t perfect and like all of us she isn’t always balanced in her pursuit of happiness. Like all of us she confuses external with internal and probably goes unsatisfied for that mistake. However, she seems more capable than me of achieving external success and I attribute that to her internal happiness.
I base my assumptions of her ability to achieve external success solely on her employment history, measured against my history. My wife is a far better employee then I am. She is a far better friend and relates inter-personally to others better then I do. For all of these realities, I assume she is more likely to achieve external happiness. Paradoxically, just as it is for all of human life, her external happiness hinges on strengths related to her internal happiness. I fear that juxtaposed to my wonderful wife, whom I am blessed to have, I am a failure at securing either external or internal happiness thus far in my 33 years on earth. I learn from our love daily and hope that it allows me to be successful at achieving external security for my daughters, son, and my Wife. Her love satisfies me like I have never felt before, because of this I have hope that the same ways that I used to fail can be overcome. Wish us luck!