“Now as the ladder of life has been strung,
You might think a sweep’s on the bottom-most rung.
Though I spends me time in the ashes and smoke,
In this whole wide world, there’s no happier bloke!”
– Bert, from “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” Mary Poppins
…this is one of those times where I don’t think there’s much I can really add to this, ya know?
It’s a simple statement, really, yet it’s stuck with me since my childhood. The world constantly praises the status and station of people who live luxurious, comfortable lives, even when it labels them as greedy and selfish for it. It also looks down, a bit, on jobs that are more strenuous and dirty, and don’t pay as well. It’s understandable, but still a mistake, I think.
The world can only look to what the world has, the physical things, as a source of happiness, but happiness is, on some level, a choice. No, not just a choice, it’s an attitude.
Not to say there aren’t things that legitimately, for whatever personal reasons, make us happier. And also not to say that we must accept our lives as they are, always, without ever pursuing our dreams or improving our status. There is nothing wrong with doing what makes us happy, so long as we don’t do so at the cost of other people’s misery. No, it is merely that the world’s measuring stick of happiness is not always accurate.
Happiness does not come from wealth, status, fame, etc., and so it need not depart with it either.
Indeed, how many times have we seen people who are rich and comfortable, and yet are absolutely miserable?
And how many times have we seen people who are poor and struggling somehow able to smile and laugh anyway?
Not to say those are exclusive, of course. Rich people, poor people, every other kind of people… no one has a monopoly on either joy or misery. But how joyful or miserable our lives are doesn’t depend what we have. It doesn’t depend on how easy or difficult things are. It doesn’t depend on where we are in life or our station in life.
Our happiness depends on us.