A lot of times, because of our greed and impatience, we have the endeavor to obtain happiness by whatever means, and usually, that so-called “happiness” is fake and temporary. Humanity is gradually losing the meaning of joy, and this is prominent in our contemporary life. Relationships are generally hard to maintain these days, and the divorce rate has been increasing continuously. People are also slowly inclining towards finding happiness in things such as sex and worldly objects.
Thaddeus Camlin wrote an article that also discusses and explores this topic. It introduces and explains the human aspiration of pursuing hedonic happiness instead of eudemonic happiness. Humans have a desire to feel happy, but the problem is the pursuit of “fake” happiness instead of “real” pleasure. Hedonic/ “fake” happiness is brief and transitory, while eudemonic/ “real” happiness is lasting and sustainable. For instance, once a Mercedes is owned, the eyes drift to a Bently, then a Rolls Royce, then a private jet, and so on and so forth. It’s a never-ending need for an insatiable amount of happiness that is never going to be obtained because that happiness is not a true one, but one in which is brief and fugacious.
The article stretches further into discussing love and how we have a misconception of it as something we fall into without any effort needed. As we’re idle and greedy, we would do anything to obtain that self-delusional feeling of happiness because less energy is required. Thus, we would also tend to avoid the truth in our situation. A modern-day example that we touch upon a lot, whether it’s in anime, books, or comics, is when a person tries to make friends through subjecting to their conformity or (if they’re rich) bribing them for that “fake” friendship. Just for that delusional feeling of happiness, they are willing to take a step further and make such a reckless decision.
Another media that has touched upon this topic is a short animation titled “Happiness”, which is animated by Steve Cutts. The video follows a rodent’s relentless request for joy and fulfilment. This rodent’s (let’s call him Jerry) lives in an overpopulated city where there are thousands of other rats pursuing the same thing he is --- happiness. These rats are in a constant search of materialistic things to satisfy their insatiable hunger for joy. And throughout the video, they would find something that makes them “happy,” but just as soon as they feel happy, they feel bored again, and the cycle repeats. And this cycle is prominent throughout the whole animation. For instance, there is a scene in the animation in which Jerry goes into a shop with black Friday sales. Since Jerry doesn’t know what makes him happy and what won’t, he does what everybody in the store does ----- he tries to find materialistic things that he thinks will make him happy. But as soon as he gets the item, he gets bored with it, and then he buys a brand new shiny car. But even that doesn’t keep his happiness afloat, and soon the high wears down, and he’s back to being his unhappy old self again. So, still trying to seek happiness , he finds alcohol to be his solution. Unfortunately, he ends up drinking so much that he passes out in the middle of the street.
This alternating cycle of ecstasy and misery continues throughout the whole video. Through this animation, Cutts brings out the message that our society is corrupted and deluded to the point in which people think that materialistic things have become the only thing that makes us happy. Therefore, we are not truly happy because the happiness it provides is only temporary. This video centers around “happiness” and it’s prominent everywhere, from the advertisements on the streets to the drugs and alcohol that they take, it’s always about how these products can strip away your sadness and make you happy again. It reflects a society in which happiness is obtained by fulfilling our endless materialistic desires.
Happiness cannot be bought or obtained from materialistic items, but rather it is found within yourself. It is clear that our society has evolved to a point where we only seek happiness from materialistic things because of our greed and idleness. We buy things that we don’t need, from the money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like. No wonder we are always in a constant search for happiness.