Dagdha's Blog

Simple Joy

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on November 23, 2012

As I sat in traffic on a four hour journey to San Deigo today, I read Paulo Coelho’s esteemed novel The Alchemist, which I would highly recommend to anyone who has not read it.

Although relatively short, the book is crammed with philosophical allegory, focusing largely on the theme of happiness and its seemingly unending pursuit. I won’t ruin the plot in case you have not read it, but the overarching theme is that happiness is not complicated; it’s quite simple.

Happiness is not the car you drive, the house you own, or the label on your clothing. It’s not what you will do in the future or even what you’ve accomplished in the past. The past is a subjective memory and the future is never what we anticipate. Happiness is being mindful of the present, which is certain.

Somehow we as a society have lost this notion of happiness, which has been redefined for us by advertising as the accumulation of shit we don’t need – physical and mental clutter. The latest gadgets. The newest cars. Trashy soap operas labeled as “reality television.” Facebook. Twitter. Reddit. Infinite sources of distraction away from what’s real. What’s human.

I know millionaires who never think twice about spending $4 on a cup of coffee, but they cry like a bullied bitch if their taxes go up to support people that can’t spend $4 a day on food. These men are part of the same generation that told me and my peers to work hard, go to college, and we’d be set for life. Now they call us “entitled” for not wanting to work shit jobs for shittier pay.

I find it especially worriesome when these same men recount their philanthropic trips to Africa and say how happy everyone is with next to nothing, but for some reason they need our help. The urge to save is almost always a front for the urge to rule.

Happiness is simple – it’s love. Love for friends, family, ideas, and work. Pursue these four simple things and you will be happy. If you invest your energy in other distractions, be they the consumption of goods, media, politics, or any form of “keeping up with the Joneses,” and your happiness will dwindle. A man cannot serve two mistresses and keep them happy for long.

Over the last few years I’ve done fairly well with minimizing the physical clutter in my life. My one weakness is books, which I justify as the pursuit of ideas, although I admit that does not require owning them. Only recently have I started addressing the problem of mental clutter, focusing my free time on writing or building relatinships rather than consuming endless news and digital media. It’s a slow process, but the return is priceless.

If I have offended anyone that reads this, that was not my intent. I wrote this more for myself than for anyone else, and I won’t claim to know what makes anyone else happy. What I do know, however, is that simplicity in mind, body, and ideological pursuit brings me joy and happiness. And, considering the popularity of Paulo Coelho’s novel, there must be some truth to it.

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