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Pursuing happiness

By: Mpiyakhe Dhlamini 2014-08-15 08:59

Everyone grows up with some expectation of how life should ideally make them feel,generally we do not know what the next person’s expectations are and some people die never having ever been able to articulate what their particular expectation was,but I know that it exists for each of us because it is what motivates us to live.

Surely no one would wake up at the beginning of each day without at least having an idea of how they would like to feel at the end of it?That is almost a minimum requirement of life,of course for some people the expectation extends to more than a day:weeks,months or even years;these expectations,though they may differ,all have been given the label of happiness by man.

This expectation of a feeling usually drives the person towards a specific set of actions which they believe are their best chance of attaining the feeling:some study,some dance,some play a sport,some start businesses e.t.c but we all engage ourselves in tasks that we believe bring us closer to that thing called happiness.This idea is even encoded in the foundational document of american democracy,the declaration of independence:”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

The americans may well be right,maybe we do have another right as fundamental as life and liberty,and like life and liberty pursuing happiness is something we have to choose to do:we have a right to life but if we do not take active steps to feed and clothe ourselves we will lose that life,and history shows us that if we do not question those whom we have chosen to govern us than we will almost certainly lose our liberty and the pursuit of happiness does not really qualify as a pursuit if we want to be happy but make no plans and take no steps to do the things that would bring us closer to our goal.

Life is finite and so there is a fixed amount of time that we have to achieve anything we want,if our goal is not achieved in this life-time than we have failed(if we were immortal I do not believe anyone would wear a watch on their hand,but anyway, back to the point).I mention this because pursuing happiness is the main engine driving economic prosperity,this is because more than anything else one needs time to properly pursue happiness and most people spend their lives in a job just to keep them and their families alive and so happiness has to take a backseat.So because capitalism holds for man the possibility of being rich,it therefore holds the key to our being able to actively pursue and maybe even catch happiness.

It is particularly sad then for me to meet so many other young people who have genuinely great dreams but feel as though they are unable to achieve them without intervention (usually from the government).They believe that their individual actions will never be sufficient to bring about the change they desire,I believe there is something wrong with a nation when the young feel so inadequate.

What is happening to this country?We are great at telling each other why we cannot do things and why we need help but can someone please tell us we can;we are told that we need a government tender to be a successful businessman,that we need to be protected from the world,that we cannot compete on our own because we are “disadvantaged”,they even teach this at school!!Imagine what it must do to the mind of a child to tell them that they are disadvantaged,no matter how altruistic the intention, the child is given the impression that they are less than someone else.

Day-after-day I watch young people fully drown themselves in alcohol,drinking has gone beyond the social in our townships and many lives continue to be ruined.People still have dreams,but they believe that their dreams can only be achieved when government finally comes to help them,in the meantime lives are wasted waiting for a government when they would have much better luck waiting for godot.

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