This post concerns the most vital and universal of human needs: happiness. I find that many people, myself included at times, tend view happiness as something complicated and untenable – it can be elusive, fickle, and difficult to maintain. It may seem crude to say this given how most of us in the modern world have it far better than the majority of our fellow humans.
But the reality is that the developed world, even upon attaining a better quality of life materially speaking, still grapples with the existential and philosophical questions about human satisfaction. No matter how lucky we are to be largely un-tainted by the misery of poverty, disease, and oppression, we can’t seem to find happiness.
I am of course no exception to this, having grappled with bouts of depression and anxiety throughout many periods of my life. Over the years, thought, I’ve found through both experience and research that being happy requires nothing profound or intangible. On the contrary, it can be attained in some of the cheapest and simplest ways.
Never underestimate the value of a hug, a smile, a compliment, or even just listening to someone’s problems. All these things can make a person’s day, and even science is finding that we indeed become measurably more content and relaxed upon receiving them. We’re social creates by nature, and thus being recipients to positive social interactions – even by indirect means such as through Facebook or text – can make us feel comfortable, secure, and pleased.
Basically, as the saying goes, it’s the little things in life that matter. If someone is done, try to offer an ear, a joke, or – if permitted – a nice warm hug. If you’re down, seek these little things out, and surround yourself with positive and loving people. Obviously, the nature of your discontent – such as immense grief or clinical depression – can render such solutions moot. But it never hurts to try. Why pass up such basic and undemanding solutions to human sadness?
All this reminds me of a wonderful campaign that I’m very tempted to emulate:
From what I’m seeing elsewhere on YouTube, it’s catching on across the world. That’s good – we need more people to understand this.