I love gadgets and books and wrist watches and many more things. When I buy a gadget I want to use or a book I want to read, it feels great. But, when I think about it, I am not happier after I buy these things. There is a certain 'basic happiness level' which I am currently at, and I feel that this level does not increase after purchasing a desired object. And yet, I still want these objects. I'd rather have them than not have them, even though they don't increase my level of happiness.
I noticed something similar when I compared my childhood with a kid of 14 years living next to my house. He too is equally happy and smiling like I used to be almost a decade ago, despite the fact that I didn't had anything like cell phones, Facebook, Twitter etc. The basic level of happiness of the average teenager has not increased in the past couple of decades years, even though we have all these new technologies and gadgets that make our life easier and more comfortable. And yet, every person would rather have these new devices than not have them.
I started wondering about this, since it has been my assumption that we strive to maximize our happiness, and so if an action has no long term effects on our happiness, why take that action? If I'd rather own these devices than not own them, it means that there is some metric other than happiness that is improved by owning them. I think that metric is 'CONTENTMENT'. I am simply more content owning these devices than not owning them.
And this concept applies not only to gadgets, but also to other aspects of life. Someone may work hard to get a promotion, build a big house, become rich, get a Nobel Prize, etc, even though after all these things are accomplished their 'basic happiness level' will likely not change.
What determines our happiness level is not very well understood, but after our basic survival needs are met, happiness is a function of things like brain chemistry predisposition, whether whoever you love loves you back, how well you get along with your significant other, how many close friends you have, etc.
Those things are unlikely to change just because you bought a new smartphone or a new Porsche or even because you won the Man Booker Prize. And yet, people strive for these things, not because they will be happier with the result, but because they will be more content with the result. They will be more content with themselves if they know that they have achieved what they wanted: bought a beautiful house, made partner in a firm, became CEO, won an Oscar.
People initially think that they are trying to maximize their happiness, but after a while, after achieving some early goals and not feeling happier, they realize that it's foolish to expect to become happier when the next goal is achieved. And yet, they persist on working towards that next goal. At that point, they are simply trying to maximize their contentment. It's just that 'the pursuit of contentment' is not as catchy as 'the pursuit of happiness'.
P.S.: I am no Great writer or Literature expert or English guru. This post is just a expression of my feelings and you might find some mistakes in it as it is straight from the heart and not proof read. Please ignore the mistakes. :) Thank you.
Friends are plenty when the purse is full. But most of our friends are fair-weather friends. They are time servers. There are very few strand by us through thick and thin. Prosperity gains friends but diversity tries them. Adversity is the touchstone of friendship.
A friend in need is a friend indeed. True and selfless friends are rare in this selfish world. Friendship knows no rank, it makes no distinction between a king and a beggar. A friend is a friend, whether the world goes right or wrong.
A real friend is the balm of our life. He is selfless. He is prepared to sacrifice his all for us. He gives sane advice, criticizes our views and opinions in a constructive manner and directs our will and energy into proper channels.
A true friend is one who appreciates us, who knows our faults as well as virtues, who understands and sympathizes with our aims and objects and shares our ambitions and joys, hopes and disappointments.
On the other hand, a selfish friend is a self-seeker. He is not good and honest. He is not prepared to sacrifice his personal interest for us. With him his own self is first and other things are afterwards. The friendship of a selfish man is of a hollow type.
A selfish friend is an opportunist. He does not love us but our money and the comforts that money can buy for him. His friendship is a business proposition. His friendship is based on the hope of some gain from us. His eye is always on some personal gain.
A selfish friend deserts us in our miseries. A selfish friend is never sincere. He is a hypocrite. He is worse than an enemy. He betrays us at the most critical moment. His actions are never in keeping with his words. He says something else and does something quite the contrary. He is not trustworthy.
A selfish friend is like a good apple that is rotten from within. He is very pleasant spoken, his words are as sweet as honey, he flatters you, he coaxes you and he says ditto to what you say. But his deeds give the lie to his words.
All the time he is playing a double game and making a fool of us. His oily tongue and his hypocritical talk induce in us a false sense of security and we leak out all our secrets to him. He makes a capital out of them and brings untold misery upon us. He is a wolf in the guise of a lamb. We must beware of a selfish friend.