Stop Searching for Happiness
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I found this quote last night and, well, I am completely smitten by it.
The generation of which I am a part is obsessed with the idea of happiness. Maybe it is because of the over abundance of material items to which we have access, maybe we can blame our divorced parents, but ultimately it comes down to ourselves.
In this day and age, it is difficult to be satisfied. We always have to have the newest gadget, even though the next version will only have a bigger screen, no other updates.
While I was fortunate to have parents who have remained together, many of the adults who raised us ’90s babies became dissatisfied with their partners after spending years together, and gave up in hopes of finding something better.
We make ourselves the highest priority, and use our “personal happiness” as an excuse.
But while we are chasing that happiness, what damage do we cause?
Families are obviously affected by divorce, but it goes deeper than that. It has created a generation that avoids actual dating and instead resorts to possessive relationships based upon attention from “likes” on social media.
News flash: the time you spend checking to see if that cute boy liked that girl you hate’s photo could probably be better spent.
As for our never-ending material hunger, the effects are everywhere. We throw away things that are in perfectly good condition in order to get a newer one, or buy one of every color just to have it.
PSA: Retail therapy is ineffective and just an excuse for you to go shopping whenever one thing goes wrong on Monday. (When does anything ever go right on Mondays??)
Sure, we may find short term happiness in that item, but it does not last.
We have to stop treating everything and everyone as being easily dispensable.
We are not living well, being honorable or compassionate.
The beauty of beginning to do so, however, will bring happiness. It is easy to get caught up in this world, but it is also easy to be better.
Our generation has so much potential. We have the technology to make differences, to create change, and be useful.
That sounds intimidating, but if you just consider the amount of people you interact with daily, you can also imagine the difference you could make in each of their days with a simple, kind word or gesture.
Be compassionate, live well, and happiness will follow on its own.
By Laura Wilmes, YOUniversityTV Contributing Student Writer from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville