Photo: Tight friends Michelle Ntalami and Makena Njeri shwoing off ‘new love game’ and happiness among friends.
Case For Happiness.
The other day, while having a drink with friend, the conversation naturally gravitated towards happiness. Day time drinking has its surprising benefits. If it is a vodka, especially.
For the first time, I met someone with the same view of happiness as me: it doesn’t exist in concrete terms. It is something elusive, and once you stop searching, your life becomes more fulfilling.
Have you ever had this fever, and you so much want the sun. Then you step out and discover the sun is playing hide and seek with the clouds, it comes out, goes back inside the clouds in sickening frequency and annoyance? Eventually, you get tired, go back to the house out a sweater or light a jiko. Problem solved.
Happiness is like sunshine and life is the cloud.
Going for a jiko is about being intentional about what you want. And the ability to use substitute. If for instance, you thought marriage will fulfil you and it failed, are you able to find an alternative.
Growing up, we used to derive happiness in simple stuff like a shared meal, finishing a task, having a family after-dinner talk, gossip and such. There wasn’t the abstract happiness that millennials in the corporate world seek.
Now, we hear stuff like work-life balance. We see women pursuing happiness like it is a goal or a prize to grab once they meet certain quotas in life( good job, family-working husband, cute kids, a beautiful home, a vacation on sandy beaches, you know?). Many soon discover, life is not structured this way.
Men on the end, don’t go searching for happiness. But are given to hedonism as a definition of happiness. You know the trips to Nanyuki. Nyam chom. Drinks. Women. Repeat.
Many soon discover how empty this type of life is.
Yet, neither gender is happy. Countless papers by no respectable institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Oxford have indicated, the more freedom women get, the more economically empowered women get, the more freedom of choice women get, the less happier they become. By many parameters a woman today with all that she has, is less happy that a woman in 1970.
I have dealt with women in academia, women in the corporate sector. Very successful from a material point of view. And there is something they are looking for. Something they long for. And most of them have realised they will never find it and it breaks them down.
Men have remained their miserable selves all along. Men don’t chase happiness for happiness sake, but have long learnt to attach different meanings to happiness e.g family, investments and security.
As women work and work more, make more money, most find family a useless appendage. Or more precisely, men to be less meaningful in their pursuits. Their source of unhappiness is not that they don’t have men but getting the alternative to fill these void left by dismissing men from their lives. Temporarily, girls road trip can fill the void. Temporarily, a chama can fill this void. Temporarily the material wealth can suffice. Yet, a human being is a sum total of many things and many working class women will have to define life differently if they are to get the elusive happiness.
Alternatively, they can just stop looking for happiness and just BE.
But you can only be, if indulge in some bit of philosophy. And here is where Albert Camus comes in. Life is just absurd. Like in his ‘Myth of Sisyphus he says, ‘There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.’
That we have to treat life with a certain amount of contempt. Because it is ridiculous. You are born into the person you are without a choice. Daily, you have to do certain tasks, repeatedly, in order to make a living. Think of a bus driver and his conductor. Think about your life. You are condemned to do whatever you do as you wait for our inescapable fate.
So, for you to be happy, you have to first understand how absurd life is.
“Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd discovery. It happens as well that the feeling of the absurd springs from happiness.”
Such a realization is the key to ‘happiness’.
Soon you realise happiness is to be found in the least likely places: playing soccer in an estate field, laughing with friends, enjoying music with a friend, or discovering a friend who likes some obscure author that you like too. Or singing in a choir. In contrast people who get job promotions, salary increment soon discover the initial excitement was premature.
And lastly, the kind of happiness that eludes us is what Hollywood sells. Yet, Hollywood is incompatible with life. Both in the West and more especially in Africa.
Sometimes, people get good jobs and perks that distort their reality and when they have earned the millions, traveled the world and done pretty much what they thought would fulfil them, they are still unhappy.
Happiness lies in the discovery and rediscovery of the SIMPLE.
That, and the realization that all is vanity, and giving up everything to God.
By Silas Nyanchwani via Facebook