You read it correctly. This is it. I finally found out what it is about being happy. It’s not a secret, really, for I think that anyone could come to the same conclusion if they just wanted.
And this is it: The secret of happiness is not knowing anything better.
Yeah, I know, it might sound a bit, umm, harsh. But let me explain.
One of my friend told me once a story about a disabled boy, who had never felt communion with others. Who had always been bullied, neglected, left alone, and had never played anything with other kids. Then one day the coach of the local football team for kids took this boy with him to the training game and let him play with others. It went extremely well and this boy was happier than he had ever been before.
When I heard this I was moved, I felt happy for this boy. I felt that the coach had made the very best thing that was in his power to do. But my friend here, had another point of view. She said that that boy shouldn’t be treated like that, he shouldn’t be taken as a part of the group ‘for pity’s sake’. She said that this boy couldn’t never be truly one of them, so he shouldn’t have had the opporturnity to experience it at all.
I didn’t get her point. I disagreed so bad. We argued about it, too. We never actually understood each other. But now, as I think about this, I think that she might have had a point in that.
I mean, I’m still glad about the thought that this boy was this happy and could have this experience. But nowadays I think also how might have he felt later on. If he had experienced something that good, why wouldn’t he wanted to have that good feeling again? And if he wouldn’t have been able to do it again, wouldn’t it have made him feel frustrated, annoyed, unhappy, even sad? If he wanted something he couldn’t have, wouldn’t it had made him unhappy?
Well, there’s different ways of deal with what the life brings you, I agree. Someone would be happy with the one good experience and cherish it in one’s memory, be grateful for it. But I think that it would be more human way of behaviour to feel frustrated, or unhappy if the one time experience wouldn’t be achievable ever again. From this point of view it would have been better if the boy wouldn’t have been able to experience it at all as far as the happiness is regarded.
It has been said that the simply ones are the most happy persons. And also that the knowledge will increase the suffering. And I must agree with these statements, despite of how simple and naivistic they sound. Because I believe that a human can’t ever be truly happy with the situation he is at if he knows that there would be something better in the world that he might be able to get. Or even if it was something he wouldn’t be able to get, but someone else would be.
We envy. We desire. We want. We wish. We dream. And there’s nothing wrong in having dreams. I have written before that the ability to dream is one thing that makes us all humans. The ability to see how things could be better, and do them, too.
And I do agree that there are persons who can be happy with their lives, and I believe that they have found something the others are missing. They don’t want anything other than what they already have. The poor isn’t the one who has little, but the one who wants more. When thinking it through in this way it seems rather obvious that not knowing anything better would make happiness so much easier.
I once read a story about siamese twins who said that they living together in the same body kind of, was just normal to them, that ‘they don’t know anything else’. And they were rather happy with their life as it was. When I think about it, being trapped in the same body with someone else for my whole life, it feels… horrible. Not being able to decide what to wear, where to go, how to act, not being able to step away from that person or be alone – ever. That’s horrible, for me. But these girls said ‘it’s normal, we don’t know anything else’.
They were happy about their situation, for they didn’t know anything better.
I guess that knowing a lot and still being happy and content with the life as it is, is a goal we all should try to get. Where I’m trying to get, all the time. Maybe Aristotle had it right when saying: ‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.’
And that could indeed be the most difficult thing in human existence, as well.