I have recently read that human brains were designed for survival not for happiness (James Kirby). It surprised me maybe because we live in an era and culture where personal fulfillment and happiness became a life goal No 1.
If you cannot boast about a great job full of challenges in which you learn each day something new you are sort of loosing on importance in the eyes of your friends or relatives. (Aren´t you bored doing the same thing over the last 5 years, what are you planning in next 5 years, are you motivated?). If the job sucks hopefully you are living in paradise once you arrive at home. Your kids are well-behaved, have good if not excellent results in school. They excel in one sport and art activity, your spouse is kind, helping, attractive. You have fun together most of the time, you are intimate and enjoy sex like you did 5-10-15-20 years ago, not talking about perfect holidays you can afford regularly. Perfect meaning it did not rain, the food was exquisite, nobody got sick and you have cool photos to share on Facebook. Maybe video or two where your children are swimming or skiing champions and you are filming while chilling in a bar nearby. If you do not experience all of it you make up at least part of it. Just in case your colleagues check on you.
Apart from your full-time professional and private life where problems are called challenges you are supposed to enjoy some leisure time. Jogging, zumba, yoga, meditation course – to keep your body fit and mind relaxed. Tell people that you just sit on your balcony staring at the trees and observing the cats.(Watch their reaction.) There is no doubt you also read quality books, go on concerts or enjoy a theater piece from now and then. You surely follow current political situation because as a good citizen you should be involved in making our society grow and prosper. If you are wondering how to manage all those things just go on twitter. It still operates with 140 characters and if you choose to follow wisely you will get only the essentials while you were away. Moreover you are kinda trendy simply because you are on Twitter.
Then one day it happens (or maybe not and it happens some other day) – you realize that you are tired. You open twitter and you do not read a single hot post. You go on Facebook and many if not all of your own posts seem to you meaningless – “How to be a better listener. “, “The scientists found…”, “Syria refugees…”, “How to help your child…”, “How not to…”, videos from recent concerts you went to, event you are interested in the near future, perfect recipe for a perfect birthday cake. All shared and already forgotten. Planning the following holiday trip happens sort of haphazardly. Your promotion and where you want to be in 5 years are at the bottom of your interest. Your kids´results still lie on your heart but you wish most of all that they are healthy physically and emotionally. When you do not manage to do your sports it does not change your mood and when it is freezing cold on your vacation you take it as a fact without being annoyed. Some people call it serene or awaken life but I tend to think it is a simple survival mode.
The society makes us believe that we live for some special personal purpose. We need to get somewhere and we are obliged to take our kids with us. To be accepted we do things that are desirable and appreciated by others. We put ourselves and our children under enormous pressure that if they do not do this or that, or if they do not behave in particular way they will never become this or that person. We do not listen to our inner music, the voice (and we do not teach our children to listen to it either) that knows the best what we need in order to feel good. Not necessarily super happy but good, at peace with ourselves and the universe.
You probably recall the powerful and remarkable film The Pianist. Having watched it again recently made me realize that you can lose everything – your job, your family, your love, your health, your future. Though, if you can find something that keeps you going you can go on living (“surviving”) in peace. You will find moments when you smile or even laugh and you will be happy. Not because you found happiness but because you survived and could live fully another day. What happened while you were away (sleeping, day dreaming, in hospital treatment, doing your job ) does not really matter. Making acquaintance with this simple truth early in our lives could save us a lot of trouble and disappointment.
Living for “survival” is not “less”, it is actually all we need to stop keeping up with the Joneses. The Joneses are probably wondering how come that we manage to be so happy.
We do not need to look for some special meaning of our life. The meaning is comprised in the living in alignment with ourselves.