A tutor of mine once told me that the secret to happiness was having three things: something to do; someone to love and something to look forward to.
In Buddhism, the secret to happiness is inner peace and having no attachments so if something is taken away from you it can’t destroy your happiness.
I’m a great believer in the importance of inner peace but I can’t get my head around the ‘no attachments’ thing. Does that mean that I shouldn’t be so attached to my cat? My parents? Admittedly, I’m probably far too fond of my Blu-ray player and my Netflix account but what can you do?
On the whole, I think my tutor had the right of it. She taught creative writing at the City Lit and was a wonderfully hippified person who wore silk scarves and spoke in slow motion. Watching her in seminars, you could believe that she would be the sort of person who would know the secret to happiness.
As a writer, I’ve never found the whole ‘something to do’ thing a problem in the way that I always want to write. The problem is finding the time to do it when I’ve been stuck in various dull or stressful (or dull and stressful) jobs. From other posts on this blog, you can see that I’m never short of something to look forward to.
My view on the whole ‘someone to love’ thing is typical of my cynical, not-Bridget Jones, world view, in that I do not think it necessarily has to refer to ‘romantic love’. Contrary to popular belief, I am not entirely misanthropic and believe that it is important to have people around you that you feel close to but I don’t believe that it has to be a boyfriend/girlfriend. In fact, I think that some people jeopardise their happiness by fixating on the idea that they need this sort of relationship rather than cultivating good friendships with the people around them.
I’m no expert, but my theory on what is going wrong with people’s happiness nowadays is that they are relying too much on having something to look forward to. This results in people constantly living for the future rather than enjoying the now. With the level of bullshit and shoddy relationships in the modern world, it’s hardly surprising and I know I’m guilty of it in a big way when I’m at work but I do think it is worth striving to find something decent to do with your days, cherishing the time spent with people who make you happy and ditching the dickheads that bring you down.