People often wonder whether we can be truly happy without experiencing suffering. If we never suffer a day in our lives, how are we to know whether happiness is actual joy or just melancholy? It’s an interesting thought, but I will once again play the devil’s advocate and suggest this might not be the polar dichotomy we seem to think it is.
Firstly, if you are not happy, this certainly doesn’t mean you are suffering or even discontent. It is very reasonable to just be content and in a completely neutral mood: neither happy nor sad. People will define happiness in a large number of ways.
But I’m not interested in mulling over the semantics of the words “happiness” and “suffering”. My agenda is more psychologically influenced here. Is it possible for us to be in a constant state of happiness? I think it may be more possible than one would expect. On the X axis of our mood graph, at the top we have rapture being the highest level of happiness, and at the bottom we have depression. In the middle, we have a state of indifference or contentedness perhaps.
Excuse my crude depiction here, but I think it’ll help me illustrate where I’m coming from. I believe most of us fall into an area along the orange or red lines for the chronically unhappy. I think it is possible to reside entirely within the green mood spectrum. That is to say, we can experience a “baseline” happiness that is similar to satisfaction or contentedness and we then fluctuate from here to rapture; our mood is rarely seen to drop below into sadness or suffering.
Believe it or not, the chronically happy do exist. Everyone will suffer from time to time but those who seem to be perpetually happy often have a very admirable ability to avoid stress or worry. They tend to be optimistic and don’t fuss over trivial matters. They have an appreciation for things we so often take for granted. Desire doesn’t control their lives and they recognize their own insignificance. I plan on writing more about happiness in the future but I will do that in another post.
If you have opposing views or are of the opinion that happiness cannot exist without suffering, please feel free to have your say below.