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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