KVE301/KVE401 Universal Human Values and Professional Ethics
Chapter 3: Basic Human Aspirations – Continuous Happiness and Prosperity
Prevailing notions of Happiness and Prosperity
There are certain kinds of questions or confusions usually emerge regarding happiness, some of which are listed below:
- I will be bored of happiness if I am always happy.
- I will learn and improve only if I am unhappy. If I become happy, my learning will stop.
- I need to be unhappy to recognize that I am happy.
- We think of others only when we are unhappy. Thus it is important/useful to be unhappy so that one can help others.
- Happiness and unhappiness go together, they cannot be separated.
- Yes, I want happiness. But my desiring does not guarantee it. So, why talk of desire?
- My happiness depends on others. What can I do about it?
- We do not want happiness for ourselves, but we want to make others happy (while we may stay unhappy).
- Happiness is a small thing. We have higher aspirations, such as like contentment, peace, bliss, etc.
- Do not bother me with such abstract notions as happiness. I have to live and deal with other things in my life.
The above issues are open for the reader to self-explore.
A common saying is that “I cannot be sure of happiness unless I am unhappy”, “Happiness and sadness are the two sides of the same coin.” The simple answer to this question is: the acceptance or recognition of happiness is there in me innately. I do not have to compare with something to identify it. You ask yourself, do you first hate your friend to know how to like him/her, or do you first disrespect your parents to know what it means to respect them?
If unhappiness is that much important for us to understand happiness then there will the condition that we are definitely making a program of action to be unhappy once in a whole day.
Lack of the right understanding of happiness and prosperity has led us into a variety of problems at different levels of our living, be it at the level of individual, or family, or society, or nature.
We are trying to achieve happiness and prosperity by maximizing the accumulation and consumption of physical facilities. It is becoming anti-ecological and anti-people and threatening human survival itself. Some of the consequences of such a trend are summarized below:
- At the level of the individual – rising problems of depression, psychological disorders, suicides, stress, insecurity, etc.
- At the level of the family – breaking of joint families, mistrust, the conflict between older and younger generations, insecurity in relationships, divorce, dowry tortures, etc.
- At the level of society – growing incidence of terrorism and Naxalism, rising communalism, spreading casteism, racial and ethnic struggle, wars between nations, etc.
- At the level of nature – global warming, water, air, soil, noise, pollution, resource depletion of minerals and mineral oils, deforestation, etc.