Have We Given Up on Happiness?

A student told me that a new report claims that the coronavirus is no longer the world’s no. 1 concern. Apparently, it is outperformed by poverty and unemployment. Besides those three, the world is worried, according to the report, about crime, education, climate change, and immigration. To me, humanity seems so confused and burned out that I don’t think it is concerned with anything anymore. And it is not that there are too many problems, but that there is no goal to achieve. If there are no goals, there are no aspirations; and if there are no aspirations, there is nothing to live for.

Our first task is to recognize that the whole world is interconnected, as demonstrated by the numerous global crises. Personal happiness that ignores the happiness of the rest of us is a prerogative we no longer have. Therefore, we must come to define happiness as the happiness of all people, or at least we should strive to do so. Only if we progress in this direction will we make real progress toward happiness, since it will have the support of the entire society.

You might argue that everyone’s goal is to be happy, and this is true, of course. However, when we all have our own idea of happiness and only our own happiness in mind, we each go our own way and end up unhappy, burned out, and we eventually give up on happiness altogether.

Therefore, the first thing we need to define is what we regard as the most important thing in life and how we want to achieve it. Afterwards, we can determine what will help or hinder us in achieving the goal.

Our first task is to recognize that the whole world is interconnected, as demonstrated by the numerous global crises. Personal happiness that ignores the happiness of the rest of us is a prerogative we no longer have. Therefore, we must come to define happiness as the happiness of all people, or at least we should strive to do so. Only if we progress in this direction will we make real progress toward happiness, since it will have the support of the entire society.

Once we realize that this should be our goal, and start working toward it, things will improve not only for people, but for the entire planet. If we are convinced that we must look after the well-being of all people, then we must see that they do not suffer from pollution, that they have clean water and air, that they have sufficient energy and healthy food, and that their health, housing, and education are cared for. As a result, we will balance our use of resources and consume only what is necessary, out of consideration for everyone else’s well-being.

We will not need regulations and conferences to which world leaders fly in jets that pollute the atmosphere to make hollow speeches. We will regulate ourselves because of our awareness that our own happiness depends on the happiness of everyone else. In other words, we will achieve sustainability and build a happy life for ourselves if we focus not on preventing pollution and curbing emissions, but on mutual consideration and caring for each other. This is the only way we can find sustainability and happiness in today’s world.