Is Happiness a Part of Society Today?

What is happiness? This question may seem to have a simple answer, but proves to be more daunting when further investigated. If you ask a child what they think happiness is, they will probably mention candy, sports, TV, video game, ect. But buried within these responses is the innocence of youth. The older you become, the harder it is to identify the activities and feelings of happiness. Larger issues become more prevalent in life was we age, therefore creating a blurred image of what happiness is. For example, it is harder for children to understand the concept of death; however, as you become older the thought of losing someone forever is more easily understood and creates a stronger emotional response. In humanity we struggle with what true happiness is. We are blinded by the pressures of society such as social pressure and economic pressure. Because there are such high expectations in our society, people tend to focus more so on the negative aspects of life in order to achieve what they think could be happiness. For example, a businessman will work a boring job for years in hope of eventually achieving a dream that may include a family, financial stability, or a home. Consequently, he must endure years of tedious work and misery before he could possibly reach his happiness. Happiness is different for every individual. One might find happiness in love; another might find it in the woods or on a boat. But in the society we live in today, it makes it very difficult for an individual to truly enjoy himself or herself. In Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, a man named Septimus, who suffers from severe PTSD, does not find happiness in life and eventually kills himself. Mrs. Dalloway overhears the news at the party and begins to question what happiness is. Reflecting on the suicide of Septimus, she concludes that “death [is] defiance” from the miseries people face when alive (Woolf 184). In addition, Sigmund Freud mentions in his book Civilization and its Discontent that “satisfaction is obtained from illusions” (Freud 50), and some mechanism used to cope with unhappiness include “powerful deflections… substitutive satisfactions… and intoxication substances” (Freud 41), which goes to show how superficial happiness can be. Society today struggles with the concept of happiness and whether or not people are truly happy. The social normal imposes substantial amounts of pressure on people to fit in with society as opposed to finding individual happiness. Each individual has their own perception of what happiness is, but society today makes it almost impossible to some day achieve that goal.

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2 thoughts on “Is Happiness a Part of Society Today?

  1. I thought this entry was really thought provoking. I feel like from a young age we are constantly asked what makes us happy and taught that the key to a good life is being happy. However, when we get older life itself gets in the way of being able to achieve that happiness. You mentioned that someone might work a boring job day after day in an office just working towards the goal of someday being able to achieve a life where they can do what makes them happy. This is a weird concept because we are forced to lead lives that cause us unhappiness just in the hopes that maybe we will have the possibility of being happy later on. The society we live in forces us to make money and have a stable job which may come at the expense of our happiness. For example, some people may really love making art or playing music, but they are told that they can’t do that as an actual job because it won’t pay well enough, so they are forced to get a job doing something that they don’t enjoy at all. If they do stick with making art or playing music, then society looks down on them because that isn’t seen as worth while or productive. However, I think that if it makes you really happy and brings you true joy then it shouldn’t matter how much money you’re making. I think it’s better to do something with your life that you know will give you that true happiness rather than waste your time doing something you hate.

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    • Fleming says:

      Veronica, I completely agree with you in that if you do work you enjoy, it is hard to call it work. There is saying that literally says, if you enjoy it can you really call it work? But this also brings up the situation of possibly doing something you don’t like so you can do the things you like. For example, my father loves to sail, however it would be extremely difficult for him to make a career out of it and support a family of five. In order to provide for his family he works for an insurance company that is not necessarily the most fun job out there. Outside of work during the summer though, he is able to enjoy time in Mystic Connecticut on his own sailboat. If he did not have the job he did, he would not have the opportunity to sail as he does. This then brings up the question of whether or not totally happiness is actually attainable, or if sacrifices need to be made in order to have a balance of happiness in your life. Sometimes people may over think happiness and sometimes life needs to be put into perspective. Happiness is very complicated and ironically can cause serious stress in certain people’s lives.

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