Happiness is an essential variable determining an individual’s quality of life. Given the post-modern age, where material pursuits have established themselves as essential life goals, it is important to understand and study the variance in the people’s approach towards happiness. Is one’s family still a major source of happiness or has it been replaced by the yearning to have a socially superior posturing through displays of material success?
Family: An Exigent Support System
Together in moments of joy, together in moments of sorrow, the unit of the family holds significance in contributing a good proportion to the establishment and maintenance of a person’s happiness. Close-knit. Empathetic. Sharing generous moments of pure joy and laughter. This is what family is all about.
When it comes to family, the question of refuge is an interesting one. Human beings are hardwired to seek refuge in their immediate and familial relations whenever encountered with hardship. We seek refuge against the harsh throes of life by associating ourselves with people we feel comfortable with. And when it comes to family, comfort is just a given.
When the world assumes a harrowing presence, suffocating our hearts, we yearn to surround ourself with people whom we love, people who love us unconditionally. This allows us to assess the reality that when everything goes haywire, we will always have our family around to support us in the toughest of life’s seasons. Family hence synonymizes love and unconditional compassion. It is an integral pillar of the society without which its formation is creviced.
The pertinent question that demands our assessment here is that as a society, has a beautiful bond between happiness and family been relegated. Do families no more give us joy? Is it the material gains that we run after, forsaking our precious relationships?
To understand this perspective in a better light, let’s look at it through the lens of a child coming from a broken family. Having seen his parents argue and separate after a divorce, this young child has a painful vision of what a family means. For him, it is not a source of refuge. Instead, it is a derivative of anguish and life long resentment. Given the fact that we live in times where the divorce rates have been upped by 4 % than the previous 2% as in the 1970s, procuring happiness from families is a sacred journey. This by no means entails that children from disturbed or broken families do not value family life, or the associated happiness it brings. It simply means that they find it hard to acclimatize to a version of family values that they did not receive on a first-hand basis.
Work: A Necessary Anchorage
To keep yourself engaged in pursuits that utilize your mental faculties and display your calibre is a great way of enhancing personal growth. Human beings seek work to sustain. Not only financially but mentally as well. Work gives them something to look forward to. Goal setting determines their life propositions and methodologies.
It excites them. It makes them lead meaningful lives.
Work also comes across as an essential means of leveraging identity – people belonging to low-income class families, do not feel reduced by their familial background. Striving against odds, they strive to be professionally sound than their ancestors. It not only helps them improve the quality of their lifestyle but also provides them with an opportunity to play a pivotal part in the society’s development.
When it comes to identity instituitioning through work, Asian women are no far behind. Unlike the times of yesteryears, where they had to remain within the precincts of their homes, managing home affairs, while their fathers or husbands provided for the family, these dynamics have displayed a clear shift today. Women truly have begun to believe in evolving their personalities by engaging in the professional sphere of life. Most of them do not mind working 9 to 5, to earn what they deserve and to bring more to the table.
But if work grants them happiness, has it somehow stolen their kids happiness? With them being no longer there to look after their children for long stretches of the day, instead with a nanny or a caretaker fending their kids needs, are women negating their primary roles in pursuit of social validation? Is happiness from such an engagement really worthwhile? On the flip side, let’s suppose that if the kids see their moms working hard to strike a balance between their homes and their offices, would not they be simply happy and proud of their mother’s struggles.
The reality here is that work in consonance with family may lead to happiness if responsibilities are properly balanced and executed. There is a very thin line between the two, and hence balancing well may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Also, where it is always good to keep yourself positively engaged in performing tasks related to work, it is also required that we abstain from glamorizing work-related hustle and associated stress. Yes, work is important. Yes, one must engage in a means of work that grants him/her a sense of fulfilment. But to believe that all of this should come at the cost of your personal health, be it mental or physical or at the cost of compromising your family relationships is detrimental. Happiness emanating from work is essential, but it can never serve as a replacement for familial relationships.
Money: The License to Luxury?
Unless you are a money addict, simply having an abundance of wealth in your hands, a massive bank balance, happiness is not guaranteed. In fact, happiness is not material. Happiness is an experience, similarly experienced by those who have wealth and those who do not. This brings us to the age-old debate, can money buy happiness? Well, to be honest, money in its inherent form cannot buy happiness. But yes, money if it fulfils a dire need of yours, can usher in gratitude. But at the end of the day, it was not money at the root of this. It was the fact that money helped you in paying for the medical expenses of your ailing parents or for the recovery of someone you loved. That experience gives you happiness. That person’s recovery gives you happiness.
If analysed deeply, money may add bursts of happiness at times by enriching your life experiences but those experiences always have a momentary value. For instance, you were eyeing a branded designer bag which was out of your means. Saving up on a good amount of money, at last you end up buying it. That bag will give you happiness for a week or two, and then boom! You will move onto finding another monetary variable to invest in for experiencing that same level of happiness. It is not such experiences that you cherish in moments of distress. You yearn for real, tangible, relationships during those times and it is those that you cherish then.
Happiness can very much be experienced independently of money. It can come from an act of gratitude. It may emanate from self-acceptance. Happiness is an inside job. It is you, your dealings with the people around you that essentially determine the level of happiness you usher in your life.