I was viewing a philosophical video essay recently with a very interesting premise. It was that “The Pursuit of Happiness is a Moral Obligation” versus a selfish desire. The idea is that how we act and what we do impact not only our own feelings, but that of others. So why impose anything other than happiness, laughter and joy on others? It is a conscious choice that we can make. Even a leading psychologist and scholar, Martin Seligman, has suggested that happiness is a like a muscle: that we can consciously strengthen with daily exercise. So it’s best for ourselves and it’s best for others, but how do we achieve this in these complicated times?
In reflection on my own life, I realize that I’ve often been too focused on the end result versus my journey there. Perhaps I’ve been a lesser person than I could be, in terms of my not only my own happiness but also my impact on others. There have been so many times that I have denied myself pleasure for the sake of discipline and staying focused on career, personal goals and finances, for example. And if I grew frustrated or tired, it showed. Gratification and balance were always delayed. Somehow, I thought that was what an admirable, hard-working professional should be: persistant and stoic no matter how tough things got. Who has time for pleasure when there’s so much to DO?
I think the best analogy I’ve seen or read has to do with allowing some “white space” in your life. In the same way that graphic designers know that art needs to be balanced with an adequate amount of white space to be effective and uncluttered; I think we as individuals need white space in our lives for solace and pleasure to rejuvenate ourselves.