Monday, June 17, 2013

Creators of Happiness

As said by a monk in an encounter with Pico Iyer, "to one rooted in Heaven, [all] places on earth will look the same." After watching the movies "Into the Wild" and "Lost in Translation", Alaska and Tokyo, respectively, serve as sacred locations to which people run away too so they can escape their problems. Nonetheless, by also taking this quote in consideration, how would these havens of peace differ from the places people were before? The answer is they do not. 

"Our shrinking world gave more and more of us a chance to see (...) how much we [have] in common" (Pico Iyer, Global Soul, page 17). Globalization has reached a point where one can have access to whatever one wants anywhere in the world- if you are an Afro-Malaysian living in Canada, chances are there will be a Malay restaurant fairly close to you, and there will be a group of people who gather to listen to traditional African music. 

However,  it is a well known fact that problems will exist regardless of where you go. With this in mind, I concluded that I would never be able to find my Alaska, or meet my soul mate in Tokyo. First of all, I believe that we make our own destiny, and that things only happen to you if you are on the correct state of mind to experience such. As stated by Newton's third law of motion, every action causes a reaction- consequently, every choice you make is the collection of all your previous actions, thoughts and experiences. 

As stated by Kwame Anthony Appiah in his book Cosmopolitanism, "(...) even the cleverest people are not easily shifted by reason alone". Even though to me its seems logical that there is no such thing as a magic place where I could run away to every time I have a Math test or my History essays are due, there is a general consensus that people do believe in fate and destiny- 40% of the American public. Rather than a physical location, I believe ones Alaska or Tokyo should be something within, a state of mind. Personally, my Alaska would currently be a couple of hours where I could turn off all technologic devices, perhaps with the exception of my iPod, and lay down calmly in my kitchen floor, surrounded by Mexican food.

Is it currently realistic? Obviously not, but it is a thought that has been pushing me throw this past weeks at school: the idea that in two days from now I will be in vacations and I will finally have time to focus mostly on what I like. 

In August of this year, I will officially become an IB Diploma candidate, something I have been waiting for my entire life. When the stressful situation of these new experiences pressure upon me, I assume that at some point I will feel so demotivated I will want to give up- nevertheless, I will not. We live in a world that is "economically dependent on a fantastic system of stimulation of greed that cannot be fulfilled, sexual desire that cannot be satiated, and hatred that has no outlet except against itself" (Gary Snyder, Planetary Culture, page 42).  This roughly sums up the reason why the majority of people around the world are studying rather than pursuing their Alaska: theoretically, if one wants a good job and a stable life in the future, prestigious higher education is required. We want this job so we can then make enough money to live life comfortably and give our selves/families the best life possible, and we mistakenly compromise our happiness in the way. 

Matt Killingsworth once said that "If you want to be happy, stay in the moment." Thankfully, I am just over the stage in my life where I over obsessed about the reason for my existence (yes, it is cliché but true) and about what courses I will be taking next semester. I have promised myself that even though i currently have no certain career path, I will not compromise my happiness for wealth. 

Indeed, as each day goes by, I find that too many people encourage us, current students, to "pursue our dreams"- which according to them is to pick the right college. Well, life sometimes is more than just studying or passing that one test in a subject you hate. Today, for instance, a few classmates and I will be joining a protest advocating against the economic, social and political chaos Brazil currently finds itself in. And right before joining the protest, I will be on my Hip Hop rehearsal. These are both things that make me happy and that not necessarily guarantee that I will have a brighter future, but that I am enjoying the present. As suggested by Snyder, hate only brings on hate, and if you hate the situation you find yourself in and do nothing to change it, you will continue to be miserable. You are responsible for your own happiness, and the sooner people realize this, the lesser our society will be about consumerism and the easier it will become for us to have a glimpse of a return of morality.