Happiness is all the rage.
It is pursued, analyzed, dissected, scrutinized, criticized, judged, manipulated, revered, sought, denied, displayed and flayed.
Ask anyone: What do you want?
Inevitably the answer you will hear is the all too elusive, "happiness."
Ask any parent what they want for their child. More often than not you will hear, "I just want them to be happy."
In 2006, the most popular course at Harvard concerned the concept of Happiness.
There are a gazillion books written about every aspect of happiness and how to achieve or increase it.
Happiness and its pursuit even form the very foundation of America's Declaration of Independence.
No wonder we're obsessed with it.
So what is it to be happy?
Two movies recently explored this question and came to similar and interesting conclusions.
The first, Hector and the search for Happiness, follows the life of a disillusioned psychiatrist who partakes in an adventure across the world in an attempt to better understand happiness. Along the way he collects a number of experiences that trigger emotions of joy, fear, sadness, and love.
The second movie, Inside-Out, explores the mind of a child as she maneuvers through life and the varying emotions that collide and vie for dominance.
By the end of each movie, the mystery of happiness is explained as such; true happiness is not just one emotion. It is the culmination and realization of all of the emotions together - each relying on the other to give it depth and perspective and meaning.
So what does this all mean?
Can we not have happiness without experiencing other emotions?
Well, perhaps not.
Perhaps it is in the varying shades of our emotions that the ones we truly seek come alive.
Perhaps what we truly seek is not just a sense of happiness, but also a sense of aliveness.
And it is only in the recognition and appreciation of all of our varying emotions that we truly come alive.
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