Monday, May 21, 2007

Will my iPod make me happy?

Let me break the silence of my blog once more... to say something that will probably get lost amidst the loud hubbub of our busy lives.

I recently was given an iPod for my birthday. It's great. But the thing that struck me is this: I was quite happy without one. I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything. Having got one, I am not more happy than I was before.

In a flurry of thought I have reached the following conclusion: we can be just as happy without things as we can with them. Beyond the basic needs of survival and safety, happiness simply doesn't seem to be dependent upon the things we own. This makes me wonder what it is that does actually make us happy. Is happiness an attitude? An outlook on life? I think so.

My thought is this: if you can't be happy without what you don't have, you probably won't be happy with what you do have.

Of course, I also question the value our culture culture on "happiness". I think there are is a deeper kind of joy that is somehow much more satisfying than getting good stuff or having good things happen. And maybe that's it - maybe happiness is something that's based on successes or positive turn of events. Maybe it is built on the idea of things changing for the "better". Perhaps that sort of attitude is bound to lead to disappointment when we find life doesn't just keep getting "better".

So perhaps instead, there is a kind of joy that isn't built on change, but on somehow appreciating and en-joy-ing the things that you already have. Even when things change undesirably, perhaps that kind of joy might somehow learn to see that as an acceptable part of the roller-coaster ride of life. Perhaps one can actually be joyful in the midst of undesirable events. Perhaps joy is a skill that you can learn to have whenever and wherever you are.

Perhaps I have tasted a little bit of this joy... like those fleeting moments that seem significant but are over before you have a chance to understand why, or those times where you see something little that makes you smile for a second but you don't know why. But I would like to discover something beyond the happiness that our culture ascribes to getting good things. I want to find the sort of joy that never gets drowned out by the drone of traffic, the wet squish of rain in my shoes on a cold winter's day, and the music from my iPod.


era said...

εὐδαιμονία comes to mind.

Jim said...

My ipod makes me happy...

It's not the only thing that causes me happiness, but I really do enjoy going for a walk or a bikeride and listening to some music that I like, which I don't have to inflict on other people. It's so much easier to put music on it than it was to dub CD's to tape to use with the old tape player I inherited off my sister.

It's not so much the trendiness of the new toy that makes me happy... It's the activity the new toy lets me do that I enjoy.

Matthew P said...

A long time ago I came to the very real conclusion that, "something is better than nothing".

In that case we are all already in a state of 'betterness'. We may be able to find something of happiness simply in our mere existence.

era said...

Why is something better than nothing? Countless counter-examples of things that would be better of not existing spring to mind.