Im reading a philosophical paper on suicide for a class and i came across some terribly interesting lines:
“[committing suicide] amounts to a confession…. A confession that life is too much or you dont understand it…. it is merely confessing that life ‘isnt worth the trouble.'”
– Albert Camus “The Myth of Sisyphus”
Later he describes that the realization of life’s absurdity causes one to give up (suicide) or create hope, which Camus describes negatively because, to him, hope amounts to a delusion. He suggests that what we should do is bask in life’s absurdness (the fact that it has no meaning) and just examine it.
The world is full of so much chatter and so much fog, the ideas of life can easily go under the radar. But it’s those single moments of clarity, the peace within the silence, and those experiences that are too good to be real- that’s what it’s all about.
People get stuck in the fog and chatter of life. We get worried about their job, relationship, money, or whatever. We get stuck in dull conversations that don’t actually bring about the human being of the other person. We use the internet for chatting with our friends that we never see in person or have any real experiences for. We use it to escape reality but rarely use it to learn about new ideas even though we have more information at our finger tips than anyone in history. But that’s not completely bad. Life is for enjoying- it’s just a ride. We don’t need to come up with universal truths or change the world. However, when we do, it makes life so much enjoyable.
While on the way to work or the last few minutes before we doze off, we may come up with extraordinary ideas only to forget about them when we arrive at work or wake up in the morning. You may KNOW a lot of things, but not actually ‘know’ them. An example “love is wanting to make someone else happy”. You may know this as a fact, but when it comes to your own life you may not be able to actually grasp the concept. You may be infatuated with someone and start doing nice things for them ‘to make them happy’ but once you feel what it truly means to be compelled to make someone happy regardless of the outcome. It’s like a lot of those “you’ll only know when you experience it things”. Remember when you were a kid and thought your crush was love, then became a teenager to find out that there is something stronger, and then even as an adult there is even a stronger form? That’s what these moments of clarity are like. You believe you know something, until an experience gives you an even greater understanding.
These moments of clarity are great, filled with the great buzz of intellectual activity. But, what’s even better? The moments inbetween these moments: the silence in between. That moment we stop to look at a painting or are sharing a moment with our significant other, we are free. Free from the prisons of our mind. The worries and doubts of our past and future that plague us every day are gone. We get to experience something that is rare in this world: internal peace. We aren’t thinking about what is going on, we are just letting it happen. You’ve experienced it before, but probably didn’t even notice. Doing your favorite hobby and getting lost in it had that effect on you. That’s called “flow”, being so immersed in something you are doing that you stop thinking and just let your body take over. Appreciate these moments of peace and flow; they are rare.
One of the greatest things about life is the experiences that compose it. Look at your room right now and the objects in it. See how many of them are alive. Maybe some pets? But other than that, nothing. A majority of things we see in life are inanimate. Life is rare; it’s a wonderful moment to know that you are something rather than nothing. You could have ‘existed’ as a lamp, or maybe a dog, with some life but no awareness other than that. However, you are you! So to have an experience at all, is just wonderful. But we get to share those experiences with other humans. We aren’t alone: we have that person we want to make happy, that person that keeps us entertained, and that person that guides us through life. You can share those experiences of clarity or peace or silence with another human being. That is the best reason to appreciate life.
Tibetan monks make some of the most intricate pieces of sand art in the world. Do you know what they do when they are finished? Take a picture or sell the art? Neither. They brush it all away and never see it again. Why? To teach themselves about how not to get caught up in life- in the end, it withers away like sand in the wind.
Life is the single most important gift bestowed upon us. We realize this and end up fretting about every detail to make it perfect. But life is never about the finished product; it’s not about the stories that are told about us after our funeral- for nobody’s life is ever completely known. Life is solely about the journey. It is about placing every grain of sand where we can, in the small amount of time we have. But every grain of sand will eventually go away, and that’s ok. We can appreciate the art we’ve created. We should not care what this art looks like, because it’s not important. We live for about 80 years, and then we die.
Videogames have actually given me some insight here. People will play games for about 300 hours, and then they will beat them and never play them again. We get caught up in the story, the gameplay, and the characters. Once the story has been told, we leave that world, on to another one and play another game. Get caught up in the characters and stories of this life, learn a thing or two, or teach others. Play the game of life for 80 years, realize it’s not permanent, and enjoy the ride. It’s just a game.
Artists spend countless hours, months, or even years on their paintings, and then they just sell it to a stranger- someone who will never appreciate it as much as the original. Why? Because, they have not grown an attachment to their work, but also because they are sharing some aspect of themselves with the world. Live your life the best you can and spread the knowledge and love you carry with you. You may not be permanent but the gifts you give to humanity are.
Hopefully you can take something from Happiness 102. You definitely have learned something, and it makes me happier to share my knowledge with you! All of these techniques, I have applied to my own life, and I am more happy since I first began studying this. It’s not an overnight thing; you won’t read this and suddenly become happy. It will take work to apply all of these techniques to your own life, but one day you will think about your past and how you used to feel. You will notice how much happier you are compared to your past.
I know this took a long time to read, and I’m glad you did spend your time reading this. I hope this truly did benefit you. Have a good day, and stay happy 🙂 !