Pursuit of Happiness
Progeny of Adam (AS) is a mere toy of mud if it is bereft of emotions and feelings. Emotions place man at the top of hierarchy in the faunal kingdom. Had there been no emotions filled in the framework of bones and muscles, then, man would have been only a living cage with different physiological processes. Emotions elevate man many notches ahead of ( Karobiyaa’n ) angels. Allah SWT states in the holy Quran , ” Verily, we have created the man in the best of moulds “. ( Surah Al-teen ). Man is an amalgam of sweet and bitter emotions. Though negative and positive emotions are almost inseparable from each other and are two sides of the same coin but the latter is somewhat the motive of man to lead a life at all. Happiness is the queen of all positive emotions, and it is commonly defined as a mental state; characterised by feelings of fulfilment, contentment, joy and satisfaction.
Since his inception as the caliph of this planet, ibni-Adam has been striving hard to improve his living standards, in order to gain happiness. Though simple food, clothing and shelter can suffice his basic needs but the pursuit of happiness drives and propels man to explore the hidden treasures of the universe. The pursuit has rowed the man to conquer the spine-shivering depths of oceans and surmount the lofty mountain peaks Himalayas and Andes. Man has subdued violent winds and gushing waters to grind his mill of happiness. Even deadly beasts have ratified the authority of man as the king of this world. Man has harnessed every opportunity of beatitude and blissfulness, every comfort and convenience is under his feet, savory foods and feasts are there to satiate his hunger, adorable attires and dresses are available to add to his bodily beauty, sophisticated medicine and advanced therapeutic procedures are on hand to get him rid of diseases and disorders. But, tragically, man is still looking trapped in the clutches of misery, pain, grief and stress. His pursuit of happiness has landed him into the labyrinth of stress and strain.
Man has been working untiringly hard to climb the mountain of joys. An expensive house, a luxury car, surplus wealth, abundant bank balance, plenteous lands and costly clothes are considered to be the sources of happiness. Man burns his midnight oil to earn all these ostensible bench marks of happiness. Alas! It is a mere hangover. All these things have failed to bless man with happiness. Man has almost failed to achieve the desired and expected results. Happiness has become a distant dream for him because our parameters of happiness are totally materialistic in nature. Millionaires and billionaires crave for a single nap. Usage of sedative pills and tranquilizers has increased by manifolds across the globe. If money and wealth had been the sources of happiness, then wealthy people would have been enjoying the riches of sleep. But, the case is entirely different. Precious beddings are witness to the bitter fact that their owners toss and turn their heads repeatedly during the gloom of night, and the poorest of poor go into the lap of sleep under the open sky. Such scenarios are vivid under flyovers and bridges where wretched of the earth are seen lying and enjoying sleep.
Physical comforts are considered to bring man happiness but the fact is quite contrary to it. Excessive comforts and luxuries haven’t only turned man sloth and dummy but have intoxicated him spiritually and physically. Industrial revolution has undoubtedly eased the hardships of man but leaving everything to machines has enslaved man to the extent that he has lost the essence of being a man. Man of contemporary times is nothing more than a mechanical gadget. Emotions and feelings look no longer the part of his life. It is exceedingly difficult and almost impossible to differentiate between a biological being and a man. I should not be bashed if I call man a stooge of industrial world. Flying in an aeroplane to cover distant lands is inevitable, but surrendering his hands to an electrical roti maker is unacceptable and ridiculous. We can’t be laborious like our ancestors but we ought not to be sluggish and indolent like snails.
It is an established fact that spiritual purification is a prerequisite to attain emotional calmness, placidity and serenity. But, man is miles away from the spiritual aspect of life. Negative emotions have predominantly monopolized the persona of every human being. Hatred, anger, revenge, fear, melancholy, sadness, rage and disgust suppress the positive emotions which consequently perish the real stuff of happiness in a human being. Thus, the pursuit of happiness has become a curse in disguise for man. It can be assumed without any exaggeration that beast in man has bridled him to gallop on the corridor of immodesty, devilment and tribulation.
Has the pursuit of happiness proved counterproductive for man? Has the so-called prosperity brought ruins to the peace and tranquility of man? Something is really wrong with the contemporary world because man is falling prey to stress and anxiety despite accomplishing different material feats. Absolute subordination and submission to mechanical gadgets has eroded emotions and feelings from man. And a living being deprived of emotions and feelings can never taste the savory of happiness. The idea of happiness has proven hoax for man. His shortsightedness and myopic vision has marred his real happiness.
Our ancestors and forefathers had no academic degrees and certificates to their credit, yet they were wiser than us. Schools, colleges and universities were fewer in number but the people were upright in their dealings. There was no internet, email, whatsApp, messenger, facebook but the relationships were stronger and sweeter. Faster means of communication and transportation have distanced us badly from our near and dear ones. It is not lesser than a tragedy. Our ancestors would travel longer distances by foot but would ensure regular visits to their relatives’ homes. Ironically, our pursuit of happiness has bittered our relationships because we have become egoistic and self-centered.
More knowledge and expertise has handed over the man to the pangs of destruction and demolition. Man can’t resist being hegemonic in nature, so, since earlier times, he would stretch his muscles to expand his area of domination. But, sword and arrow were never a threat to the existence of man. In the pursuit of happiness, man has accumulated large quantities of deadly weapons and ammunition to annihilate the name of living things from the planet. The threat of nuclear catastrophe is looming large on humanity, and it has buried happiness deep into the bottom of the earth. We all need to relook into our benchmarks, standards and idea of happiness. Here, I am reminded of a Bollywood movie song, “Zindagi Ki Talaash Mein Hum, Moat Kay Kitnay Paas Aagayay (While in search of life, we came very close to death).
- Writer is a teacher and a columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]