Happiness Is Relative.

Hi all, it’s me again, here to tell you all what you should and should not do in life… because I have opinions and I am justified to do so right? My self-righteousness clearly gives me a pass on life to yield the hammer of justice and freely swing on those who I determine to be wrong, because such people should not be able to voice such heretic opinions, while my overwhelming wisdom allows me to teach those who those lost souls who think so differently from me; for the world clearly revolves around me.

As stupid as my opening monologue sounds, it’s funny because I am sure in one way or another, all people think like that to an extent. Whether it be opinions on politics, music choices or hobbies, most people have had that overwhelming feeling of being in the right, while the opposition are wrong. I think a great example of this self-absorbed nature within us is when comparing what makes others happy and what makes us happy. Admit it, we have all had those moments in our lives where we think to ourselves “Why do you enjoy that?” or “Why do you spend time doing that?”.

What is it within us that cannot comprehend differences like that? Why is it hard for us to accept those who feel differently towards something, perhaps to the extent of excluding those people from our lives? It could be argued by the fact that our ancestors, being a species that thrived through having a group mentality, would often ostracise those who do not follow or have the same social traits as the rest of the group, as they survived in like-minded groups that supported each other. These traits may also be found in colonies of insects such as wasps or ants, whereby those who act out-with the interest of the rest of the colony are often killed. We however are not insects nor are we still primitive beings. Ostracising others for being different hold no benefit to ourselves or our species as humans in general anymore, those feelings have now developed from a survival trait to purely self-absorbed behaviour.

Like with many of my points I shall explain what I want to say through an anecdote.

So being an Asian child in a western country, my parents owns a chinese restaurant (of course) and one weekend I found myself working there, serving food to customers. Before I go any further, I must state that I am a great admirer of food, not just for the sake of stuffing my stomach beyond repair, but for the tastes that exist out in the world. For me, eating is much more than just about filling my stomach. So there I was, serving heaps of food to customers while asking myself “Why do you enjoy this food this much?” Now don’t get me wrong, the food at the restaurant is good, but I wouldn’t exactly say that the food is of michelin-star-esque quality. The restaurant is what it is, it doesn’t try to be anything fancy, yet customer after customer tell me it’s the best food they’ve tasted; which I would never understand.  Admittedly my inner self can sometimes be a self-absorbed idiot, and this is a great example of this. However, one customer helped me realise what an asshole I can be.

So on that weekend I was taking an order for a customer as usual, to which they asked for; “Chips and fried rice, all topped off with curry sauce”. Now, I am not going to pretend that I am a food connoisseur, but I mean I’m pretty sure everyone can admit that that meal is lacking… No meat, no vegetables, no real flavour apart from the curry sauce itself. So me being me, I began thinking how lacking the meal is, while disbelieving that someone actually would come out to order what the man ordered.

I am sure at this point you all probably think that I am a self-absorbed asshole, and honestly, I wouldn’t blame you. Anyway ten minutes passed and I go to serve this man his plate drenched with curry, and right as he sees me, something about him makes me pause for a second. Dilated pupils and a smile as wide as the English Channel, I realised this man was sitting there with the excitement of a child receiving a new toy. Now I’ve seen the faces of a hungry customer about to receive his food, but  this wasn’t one of those moments. I felt this was different. He seemed genuinely and innocently happy. He would then go on to finish his meal and afterwards, told me, like many others, how good the meal was and how it brightened up his, albeit, miserable day.

With that anecdote I would like to conclude my point:

It’s easy to judge someone on their choices and even easier to look down on someone for it aswell. We so often feel what we think and do is the textbook way to live life yet we often forget that everyone is different, everything is relative. What isn’t different however is the emotion of feeling happy. Though happiness itself is relative, i.e. what makes one man happy may not another, the feeling of being happy is the same for everyone. Happiness is happiness, and just like i realised with that man in the restaurant, we should all stop being concerned with what makes other people happy, and more concerned with what makes us happy.

Ryan

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