My Idea of Happiness

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Lev Tolstoy notes at the beginning of Anna Karenina that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I suppose we might as well replace the word “family” here with “individual human being”. Looking around us, we would find many people unhappy for a thousand and one reasons. But turning to those happy men and women, we would perceive only one truth, that is, happiness comes from doing things one really loves and is engaged in for its own sake. Man is an animal. Both his instincts and his needs of survival direct that he should do something in his lifetime. It is what he does that matters. Does he take up one thing because he appreciates it or just because he wants the material things that it will bring to him? Too often we do something just because it seems profitable or beneficial, or, even worse, just because it is forced upon us. As a result, we may become millionaires or billionaires, pop stars or distinguished statesmen, but we don't have happiness. Each person is endowed with some traits and inclinations in his character. In combination with environmental influences these traits and inclinations will shape his interests or preferences. If he is allowed to develop his body and mind in a natural way, to live as his interests best guide him, he will be immune from contradictions within his natural self and, therefore, feel free and joyful about life. If, however, he has to undertake employment which he actually has no mind for, he will feel bored and unhappy¾a revenge of his nature. And if the process lasts long enough, a frustrated or resentful being will most probably be the result. In this respect, I cannot help bringing to mind two of my high school classmates, both of whom are now college students. The first one may rightly be called a born engineer. From his boyhood on, he has always derived immense pleasure from first dismantling and then assembling again whatever gadgets he may lay his...
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