East-West Happiness


I finally picked up the Happiness Project to see what’s all the fuss about. Was it a clever way for the author to make some money while going through her mid-life crisis?

Or every so often, someone somewhere is bound to ask those loaded epistemological questions: where I am going? Is happiness awaiting for me at home while I go searching for it from East to West and back.

One thing for sure: we need faster and lighter airplanes while at it.

Meanwhile, a 17-year-old Pakistanis has just shared Nobel prize for Peace.

“One book, one teacher, one child… can change the world”.

To her, happiness is to be left alone to ask those questions, and to allow others the same privilege, Gretchen, author of the Happiness Project included.

While catalogue-ing the 12 commandments of Happiness, Gretchen is doing what Malala was trying to do in her own constricted way: searching and arriving at the truth.

One is from NYC, the other, Pakistan. One starts on January 1 and stays with it for one full year. The other, got shot, recovered and continued learning in Great Britain (with an occasional stop at the UN to give a speech).

People do look for happiness in unlikely places: kitchen, golf clubs, strip clubs, casinos, cruise ships, chapels, temples, thrift shops, pet shops and porn shops ( as in Bill Bryson’s discovery of Australia, a combined pet-porn shop under one roof).

One cartoon came to mind (the Simpsons). When the government experiments with a sun-blocking dome over the town, people inside the church run out into the pub next door, and the people in the pub, out and into the church.

Happiness always alludes us. It’s somewhere else, with someone else to be discovered but not continued. By definition, if you already possessed full happiness, you would soon be unhappy (the bell-shape curve).

It’s in searching that you are fulfilled, West or East.

Appreciate it while it lasts.

Happiness however can only be appreciated in looking backward.

Keep searching and launching your own Happiness Project, your own pilgrimage.

And don’t wait until mid-life. Just look at Malala. She started hers at 11, with a blog, then got shot, survived, and went on searching, speaking and is now recognized for having tapped into that universal longing for truth and the pursuit of happiness.

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