In this world of glitz and glamour, we dwell amidst superfluity, pretense and false facades. You either go with the flow and join the gang or stand on your own in solitary confinement. Much of what you see and hear around you these days is mainly through the grapevine. Social media has become the single most powerful tool of modern voyeuristic pleasure. Posts titled – ‘About last night’ – a party the pack attended or ‘Just chilling’ or the vacay they took off to – ‘The streets of Belize’ – inform you just how exotic and endowed their lifestyle is. Oh! This is all good. We love that your life is one big party and you’re living a truly glamorous and entitled lifestyle…
But, pause here a second. Give yourself a chance to really know that person and somehow you get the feeling that the Insta-perfect, magazine-cover-lifestyle is maybe a prop to enhance a fragile existence. So why are we driven to package our lives in attractive hues and vibrant vibes? Is it the insecurities we hide, the inadequacies we feel, or what is popular today as ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out)? Fakeness is followed and pretense applauded.
So why do we do the things we do? It’s always about our quest to find happiness. We all want happy, fulfilled lives. We want the world to view us through this prism where the colours of the rainbow shine radiant on us daily. We chase happiness but we want the world to notice this photo-shopped, Insta-perfect world we are so privileged to enjoy. And so you chase all that stuff that creates the illusion of that wonderful world.
You buy a new handbag or a pricey watch or a new set of wheels… and you’re happy but you want the world to know – YOU POST IT! You chill with friends, you could’ve had a fabulous evening or a boring one – you are happy or pretending to be – BUT YOU POST IT! You get a well-paying job you don’t really like – you’re not sure if you’re happy – BUT CERTAINLY YOU POST IT! You go on a holiday – it wasn’t all you’d thought it would be – MOST DEFINITELY YOU POST IT!!!
At the end of the day, you’re lying in bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think, “What’s next in this endless pursuit of happiness?” You’re chasing random things that you believe make you happy. But are you, really? Is it a façade? A hoax? A story that’s been made up partly to console yourself and mainly to convince the world? Have you seen those really love-struck pictures and posts of people you know or celebrity couples with those #couple goals so into each other, only to discover a few weeks later, to your utter disbelief, that it’s Splits-Ville for them!
Happiness is not a goal in itself. Happiness is a process of well-being. It is not by itself, simply achievable. But you can reach a relatively attainable measure of happiness through a measure of accessing the things that make you happy. I believe that all happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness and self-worth.
Most things we do in life are just about activities and experiences… You go on a holiday… You go to work… You have dinner and drinks… You buy a car… You go shopping… Are not these things in a usual day supposed to give you the happiness you crave and desire? Unfortunately, they do not. That’s not to say that a holiday or a shopping experience does not give you pleasure. But it’s momentary. When you are being useful, the pleasure is different.
Being useful is about extending pleasure outwards and into the world. When you create something, it’s there for everyone to see and grab and derive pleasure from it. It becomes a tool of usefulness. Pleasure shared, is pleasure doubled. Spending an evening partying with friends is enjoyable, but spending an evening with a friend who’s been through a rough heartbreak, trying to lift her morale and spirit – that’s meaningful. Ralph Waldo Emerson says it best, “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, and to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
It all boils down to what are you doing that’s making a difference? Making a difference is not about changing the world or curing the planet of a deadly virus. Just make your world and somebody’s a little better than before you entered it. Make a difference in your parents’ life just with your presence. Make a difference with your friend who is struggling. It’s all about extending yourself. Put yourself out, reaching others in constructive ways of care and concern. It’s about doing more.
Being useful is a mindset. And any mindset starts with a decision till you can actually see change. Start writing, or painting could be your thing, help the elderly, work on a voluntary basis at a clinic or hospital, donate regularly, and do whatever you feel makes you happy while contributing your part to the world.
The world really needs a bit of authenticity. So stop trying to be amazing and start being useful. You may lose your followers on Instagram and your Facebook posts may no longer gleam with your audacious and enviable lifestyle. But that smile on your face and that spring in your heart will certainly be a lot more genuine than what you may have ever experienced afore!