It’s been three weeks since the death of one of the most hilarious men in the world. Of course you know I’m talking about Robin Williams. The amount of hilarity the man produced in the world was unprecedented, and yet he was unhappy. How on earth can this be the case when he was responsible for putting a smile on so many faces?
Baffled. That’s what I was when I found out about his death. My jaw dropped and I had to wash my eyes out to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. These days anyone will pass anything out on the world-wide web to grab attention and take advantage of fame. Things just need hashtags and the internet community goes wild. But no. This was real. And now every tabloid magazine cover has a photo of him with the title “Could he have been saved?” or “The secrets he was hiding.” or “Inside his tragic death.” Goodness gracious.
A friend of mine put it aptly when she said, “It just shows you how warped our perception of happiness is.” I nodded and wrote down in my little notebook: note to self, find perceptions of happiness. And I believe I have done that with this little blog, but I want to know definitions, concepts and deeper truths.
The graduate paper titled, Concepts of Happiness Across Time and Cultures discusses past definitions as developed by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle depended largely on external factors that human-kind has no control over. Yes these three said that deep thought and philosophy were keys to happiness but they largely agreed that happiness or eudaimonia arrives by chance, luck and exceptional conditions. In other words, happiness was not within our realm of control. The paper also went on to discuss that the American perception held that happiness was within control and that is why we see so many books about it, so many sales pitches resting on the ideal that you’ll be happy once you do this and this. Definitions of happiness from 30 countries were analyzed; 24 of them (80%) still maintained that happiness pertained to destiny, luck and external factors. But this also varied according to local history and culture. For example: the Guatemalan definition of happiness includes luck and fortune, whereas Spanish, Argentine and Ecuadorian definitions of happiness do not. Interesting no?
What does this have to do with Robin Williams? Simply that he was supposed to be happy. He was world-famous, hilarious, had the house, the kids, the wife, the luck, the destiny. But no. Not at all. Now that he is gone we know that these, while they fit into the definition of happiness, do not guarantee happiness. So what then? Is it based on pure thought and personality? No, even Aristotle knew that couldn’t be the case. The conjunction of the two?
What I’m learning so far is that happiness could be technical, theoretical, mechanical, literal and fantastical. But (duh) it’s coded into our beings as something we all search for. We all need to discern our own eudaimonia. Or actually, you know what? Nope. Don’t discern it, ha, let’s just engage ourselves with the journey towards what eudaimonia could be.
This is largely random but being a huge fan of Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Run FatBoy Run, Shawn of the Dead, The World’s End) I couldn’t help but be ecstatic when I saw that this movie was in the making (I also LOVE the book). Here watch the trailer:
FYI: Norwegian term for happiness is “lykke”; the definitions for this word are “1. Destiny, coincident. 2. a) Fortunate destiny, luck. b) luckily, it turned out well, being successful. c) Wish you luck. d) Congratulatory. 3. Good living conditions. 4. Deep and lasting feeling of enjoyment and well-being.”
Us happy people gotta stick together.
I depend heavily on my family and my friends whom I ask to send anything on happiness, or their motivation, how they find it all in the name of life and being able to live it. I am very grateful to them for their participation. If you’d like to do so please…drop me a line.~FindingFelicity
Please check out blood.ca to find a clinic and give.