We all live our lives in the pursuit of happiness. It is not merely an ideal espoused by the American constitution but an innate human impulse. Every action we undertake, every sentence we utter, we do so with the subtle intention of somehow, no matter how miniscule, improving our lives and bettering our chances of happiness. Happiness is an abstract concept however and cannot be measured and people’s ideas of it differ. We all crave some sort of happiness though and we as a society construct our collective lives in a way that apparently guarantees happiness on a regular basis. Let’s call them predisposed moments of happiness
Weekends are an example of predisposed happiness, birthdays are another. These are times that we are meant to spend jovially. The problem is, happiness doesn’t have a chronological timetable it works by. You can’t guarantee happiness on any given day. This is where natural highs come into play.
Natural highs, or natural instances of happiness as they may more accurately be described, are sudden and spontaneous waves of happiness, fuelled by no obviously tangible source, that can engender feelings similar to those one taking mood-enhancing drugs may experience. They are quite beautiful things. We don’t live our lives in pursuit of natural highs, many human beings are ignorant of their power or even their existence and we can’t predict when they’ll rear their charming little head. One thing that is certain is that they beat moments of predisposed happiness.
Spontaneous moments of happiness cannot be controlled and they thrive in any environment. Predisposed moments of happiness have a rigid structure – “You start being happy AT THIS TIME and you stop being happy AT THIS TIME.” It doesn’t really give you much of a chance. It implies that if you are not happy during this time period, you’re doing something terribly wrong. Birthdays are a perfect example of this.
On your birthday you’re supposedly meant to maintain a mirthful demeanour throughout the day as you celebrate the anniversary of the day you alighted from your mother’s womb. But what if you feel like shit on your birthday? What if it’s just a horrible day? Say your beloved dog chases a pesky mouse out onto a bohereen on the day of your birthday and is poleaxed by a vicious car. Your birthday is ruined. Your predisposed, calculated moment of happiness eviscerated and you won’t have a second go at it for 12 months.
Natural highs are more flexible and welcoming. They tend to happen in the most banal and uninspiring of locations. Running is known to induce them, as are orgasms but sometimes no discernible reason can be given for them.
Out of seemingly nowhere a burst of enthusiasm collides with your cerebellum. You feel no regret or remorse regarding any past misdemeanours or failings, no matter how recent. The future, no matter how far away, seems distant and alien. All you know to exist is what is now. You feel a surge of freedom pulsate through your body that flows through and liberates each and every one of your muscles. Any challenge, no matter how apparently insurmountable or daunting seems achievable. Interaction with your fellow human beings is made elementary thanks chiefly to the newly formed confidence coursing through your veins. The world is not just your oyster, the world is your bitch. You control it and everything in it. Everything is clear and the troubles or quandaries that once blighted you seem wonderfully irrelevant.
Moments like these foster marvellous creativity and help fecundity prosper. Your brain, surged by impromptu happiness helps, in an almost prosaic fashion, churn out glorious products of intellect and glamour. You seem to be able to write any article, finish any essay, compose any poem and create any song in these moments. And yet we ignore them. But that is the beauty of them we are supposed to ignore them. For if we don’t ignore them and vapidly anticipate them they merely become moments of monotonous predisposed happiness. And that is just downright boring, innit?