“Happiness is the perpetual possession of being well deceived.” Jonathon Swift
One of the tenets of our country’s founding is ‘the pursuit of happiness’. We take it for granted and yet is one of the most troubling bit’s of thinking our founding fathers embraced. So many people have such different ideas about happiness and these days many openly challenge the idea that happiness is a good thing after all.
What is happiness?
Is happiness being sated with the things you enjoy? Is happiness hard work? Whose happiness are we talking about- yours or mine? What we miss is that it isn’t happiness that our forebears celebrated. It is the pursuit- the challenge and opportunity of the hunt. It is the hunt which is the spirit of the free enterprise system which is the bane of enlightened elitists around the world.
No wonder the top news story today is about Germany where enlightened elitism got its start and where it’s light burns brightest today. Germany, the shining star of the European Union, the beacon of inspiration for the enlightened elitists worldview today, the economic engine of Europe, is the home of people incapable of happiness.
Now, the biggest difficulty in analyzing this story is pinning down the definition of happiness and the confusion today between owning things and being happy. Most studies mistakenly assume that if you have possessions, you will be happy. A few studies take more factors into consideration like freedom and opportunity with surprising results.
According to Prosperity.com, Germany is 15th in the world for happiness. Seems pretty impressive, right? If the economic leader of the EU is only 15th in the world, then where is troubled Greece? Greece is 40. Playing around with some of the variables gives an insight about why counties have the reputations they do.
How to explain Germany?
Still the data gathered by Prosperity.com suggest no reason for Germans to be unhappy. They have economic success, a good standard of living and most of the people who remember the 50 year German reign of terror one hundred years ago are dead. No body is afraid of the German military these days. What could possibly be wrong?
I have a theory.
I don’t have any rigorous studies or scientific findings. I just have a gut feeling. I think that the cold, clear thinking Germans are just too pragmatic and constrained by facts. The are trained to look at those facts clearly and pay no attention to any rainbows and butterflies, They analyze without emotion and weigh only reality, not wishes or dreams. There is no glass half full for Germans, only the harsh reality of the glass half empty. The world isn’t full of promise and hope. Not even hope and change. The world is bad and getting worse just like the media keeps telling us. The future isn’t a wonderland of opportunity. The future is bleak and ominous. If you are happy, you are a foolish dreamer.
Think and make it so.
You must have heard the old saying that whatever you think is true will become truth. Whatever you expect to happen will happen. I think happiness is built on the present. It’s hard, but not impossible, to be happy when you don’t have a good life but even when you have a good standard of living, if you doubt the future, you can’t be happy. Germans don’t believe that the future will be better than today and they can’t enjoy today’s success because of their ugly vision of the future.
America was built on a dream and Americans still wake up each morning eagerly anticipating a better future they feel is their right. We may be deceived, unlike the Germans, that the future will be brighter and better, but it keeps us going, hoping and dreaming and we are happier as a result.