What do we talk about when we talk about happiness
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. My topic today is “The pursuit of happiness” and am I going to start with a definition? NO! That is not how I am going to approach this. After knowing the topic, I can imagine students cutting directly into the definiton of happiness, sharing their little happy stories, setting criteria for happiness and using puns to show what happiness consists of. But that is not where I am going.
To be honest, there is actually not much to talk about happiness and there is no need to hold an open discussion about it, because the sense of happiness is a mere personal and private concept. We define our own happiness. Some people like peace and nature, so they prefer to live tranquilly in the countryside; some people are drawn into arts and literature, so they become wild and let imagination take their wheels; while some others are simply fancy about the betterment of life, in other words, to make big money, so they work their asses off to get to the top of the pyramid, like me. Am I happy? Yes. Are they happy? Of course. People have different beliefs, different targets and they are simply different beings and they deserve the rights to pursue their own happiness.
However, there is a popular set-pattern catching on recently, claiming to be the happiest way of living and it goes like, “Enter a key school! Then a pretigious university! Get a decent job! Large houses! Stunning spouse! Children! And finally rest in peace with four generation crying and remembering you besides your coffin.” And the pattern passes on to the next generation. There are actually a lot more set-patterns and stereotypes in our lives: “Boys go for science; girls are for arts.” “English major? You’ve gotta learn a double degree. Economy will be the best for boys.” “Don’t ever listen to Lady Gaga, that’s for women and gays.” And whenever I want to fight against those stereotypes, the responses will all be like, “That’s how it works in China! Be a man! You are too naive [Sigh], you’ve gotta learn the systems, boy.” The seemingly-established patterns are dangerous. They make us lose our ability to think and analyse, or become too realistic to think: if we make one step out of the set-circle, we will be outcasted and no longer experience happiness. But that is not true. I became an art student in a class of only 5 boys; I broke the first pattern. I didn’t apply for the economy degree, because I hate math; I broke the second pattern. I am sure there will be many more patterns for me to break, but I am not afraid; a little excited actually. If I followed any of those patterns, I swear, I couldn’t be happy like I am now.
I don’t want to live like a bee flying in circles: “Get the honey! Get back to the hive and get ready to die!” No. Even though I can’t make big money in the future, I still want things to be in my way, not from the pattern. I want to live my life, not a life. I can only be happy if I can be true to myself.