Is happiness achievable? – Axel Esteba

About 5,500 years ago writing was born in Mesopotamia. Experts say that such discovery was the result of a practical need: to control animals, utensils, cereals, etc.

Unfortunately for merchants and accountants, the writing since then not only served to record the number of sheep that one owned or to record the amount of cereals that had been harvested throughout the year, but it became the favorite support of poets and philosophers. Since then, there has been a change of paradigm, since the clay, wood, board, stone, parchment or paper were used to record the amount of food that was possessed in order to nourish the body to use these supports with the objective of feeding the soul. The instrument of writing ceased, therefore, to be a monopoly of merchants and accountants to become a pastime for restless poets and philosophers.

Centuries later, such individuals began to write about what they had thought for years (people have always philosophized in some way, although they have not left a written record) and had not been able to leave reflected. The concept of “happiness” made rivers of ink since then. At present, it is still talking about the issue, without having just vanished the initial confusion. When it comes to “happiness” we remain lost, disoriented. Totally helpless. And, nevertheless, we do not stop thinking about it. Can I really be happy? And if so, how do I get it? Can happiness really be achieved?

The often neglected Spanish philosopher Julián Marías said that happiness is a necessary impossible. Impossible because you can not get it, even if it is a necessary concept to be able to live (because we have to want it). When the disciple of José Ortega y Gasset expresses that happiness is impossible, he makes reference to the fact that life is constitutively a decision. The fact that we have to face decisions constantly not only does not contribute to our happiness, but it takes us irremediably away from it. According to Julián Marías, people have to make daily decisions that lead us along some paths while at the same time distancing us from many others. When we decide to go to the cinema we are at the same time giving up doing other things like, for example, reading a book; when we travel to Brazil instead of going to the United States, we grieve, since we would like to be in both places at the same time; when we decide to be with a person we have to desist from staying with others, and this makes us miserable. The impossibility of omnipotence, of being able to do everything, makes us unhappy, unless, difficult thing, we know how to conform and please ourselves with little and we are able to stop thinking about everything we could be doing and what we do not do.

Personally (and this is an opinion), I attribute to our modern lifestyle a part of the responsibility, not all, in this matter. Today we are constantly told to “live life,” “let’s not let the moment escape,” “carpe diem,” that “we do not impose limits on ourselves, because there is only one life”. Imbued by this kind of philosophy, we, hunters of novelties, travel all over the world, go to parties and concerts, make new friendships daily, experiment with our sexuality, flirt with alcohol and drugs, in the field of love we like to innovate, buy and play compulsively and passionately, etc. Come on, we want to do it and discover it and live it all. Practically nothing satisfies us, neither satisfies us, nor fills us, nor pleases us. To the extent that time is limited and the possibilities are endless, we intuit that life sneaks, like little grains of sand, between the fingers of our hands. And yet, I ask myself: are not we all living now while we reflect on such things? Is not reflecting or thinking or suffering or contemplating is living? Miguel de Unamuno to the reproach that made his closest friends that he had to “live more life” replied: do not live when I read or write?

In my opinion, it is convenient to revise the modern concept of “living” (which, by the way, has varied so much over the centuries) that, today, is understood as that state of experimentation and constant change without which life It would be meaningless. Those people who do not live according to these standards (a minority in Western countries) are considered as individuals who have decided to give up life or who are directly leaving complacently. Nothing is further from reality. I understand that it is important that we want to “live”, desire things, experience new things, but always with moderation and touching with the feet on the ground. It is evident that experimentation and change are not only good things, but necessary. Now, what is no longer so convenient is to pretend to be perpetually in such states. There is more life after the hedonistic and selfish philosophy that only thinks about the “I”.

In addition, a life run over by events there is hardly room for contemplation and reflection. The classics already warned us that the highest way of life is the contemplative, and that a life without reflection is not worth living. A state of constant activity prevents thinking about what has been lived. Or, put another way, experience, to be, has to be reflected.

In short, what you get in reality from this excessive desire to live life is, in my opinion, uneasiness and dissatisfaction, because too often what you want can not be achieved. An unfulfilled desire causes discomfort, thousands of them cause a painful and incessant restlessness. So, before style slogans: “Hurry to live the life that does not wait and runs away at high speed” agrees to stop and say to yourself: “It’s okay, I must live life, but … how do I live? Here is the most fundamental ethical question: how should we live? And the answer is only yours.