Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim,
I’m going to feel better when we’ve moved into a new house.
Once I get a degree then I’ll be happy.
I’m just waiting to get married, then life will be much happier.
If only such and such happened, I would be so much happier!
We look for happiness in many places. The question is, are the places where we’re looking for happiness the right places? Or are we just wasting our time by investing it in a fruitless business? Let us look at some of the most common things where we assume happiness lies.
Does money bring happiness? Of course it does. Who doesn’t get a kick out of their salary? We love it when our boss tells us that we’re getting a raise! We love it when our aunty gives us some buck for Eid shopping. What the real question to ask is, does money bring lasting happiness? How long does that happiness last?
There has been a very interesting study done about this. In this study, psychologists interviewed lottery winners who won between $50,000 to $1 million. They found that, less than one year after getting the prize money, their happiness level was no more than regular people.
In fact, they were getting less enjoyment out of activities which they used to enjoy before getting the lottery, such as watching TV or going out to lunch. In fact, when our salary increases, we get a happiness boost for a short period of time, but then we get used to it and start looking forward to the next increment.
If the son of Adam had two valleys of wealth, he would love to have a third along with them. Nothing could satisfy him except dust. And Allah accepts the repentance of the one who repents. [ibn Majah]
Material comfort and luxury
Imagine what life used to be half a century ago. No matter which country you’re from, if you reflect on it you’ll see that we have much, much more luxury than people used to have then. We have running hot and cold water, a bathroom attached to each bedroom, LED TVs where we can choose to watch from among a hundred channels, electricity 24/7, and the list goes on.
Those things which we take for granted now, such as ceiling fans or air conditioners, fridge, microwaves or washing machines, would have been things people would be dying to get hold of. But are we any more happy than people in the past?
In fact, people are becoming less happy. Materialism therefore doesn’t bring happiness, in fact, it is a strong predictor of unhappiness. One of the reasons for this is that while we’re running after buying the next iPhone or bullet mixer or whatever, we’re distracted from the much more happiness-generating activities.
The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you, until you visit the graves. [102:1-2]
We see in TV advertisements how a girl is so sad because of her pimples or dark skin, and then she is given this ‘magic cream’ and she is blooming with happiness! We get this message bombarded into our brains all the time – the more beautiful and handsome you’re the happier you’ll be.
In fact, whole industries have been built surrounding this weakness of ours – there are all kinds of products in the market that claim to make you whiter, thinner, fatter, smoother, darker-haired, lighter-haired, straighter-haired, curlier-haired. But does beauty bring us true happiness?
In a study by Diener et al done on undergraduate students. It was revealed that happier students believed that they were more beautiful, but when evaluated by objective judges, they found out that there was no difference in their level of beauty than the less happier students.
From the time we hit puberty, we start dreaming about our soul-mate. We build a picture in our hearts, of how we’ll find him/her and how we’re going to get married and live happily ever after.
We really look forward to our wedding day. In fact, maybe we look forward to it a bit too much. When we’re finally married and start realizing that it’s not exactly ‘happily ever after’ as we’d come to believe reading bed-time stories, our happiness bubble breaks and we find ourselves in a lousy situation from which we want to get out as quick as we can.
Just look at the number of divorced people around us. Marriage is not a happiness package. It is a brand new situation, new challenge, new life altogether. And it takes a lot of time and patience to make it work. If we truly have the right mind-set and right expectations before getting married, then we can truly achieve the ‘happily ever after’ bi-idhnillah.