‘Happiness is the enemy, it weakens you.” This is said by Niki Lauda’s character in the film Rush when he has just married and seems to believe that his new happiness might weaken his determination to win the world motor racing championship.
The quote struck me, not because it was something I hadn’t heard before but how true it is in a way. All through our lives happiness is considered a goal, a great state of being, where we want to be, what we want to feel. However in those times we do attain it, how productive are we?
If we aren’t productive, what are we? A floating amoeba of emotional ecstasy and little more?
I remember quite clearly making a statement what seems a million years ago. I remember where I was, when I said it and how I felt at the time. “I am really happy,” I said, grinning from ear to ear and I meant it. At that point, I had everything I thought I wanted, but what was I doing, creating, being? As I remember it now, the answer is not a lot but I was enjoying myself.
What’s so wrong with that?
There is in fact, nothing wrong with being happy but if I’d stayed in that state permanently would I be sitting here having done very little with my life? It’s impossible to say but I have my suspicions.
Does happiness make people lazy? After all, if you are totally happy with your lot, what is there to drive you on?
It’s an interesting question.
It depends what you do with your happiness. I would say that if you are in a state of happiness there is the chance you will become complacent. Not long after I made my bold declaration of happiness my life pretty much fell apart. Bloomin’ heck, I thought, don’t ever go saying that again out loud, evil monsters are watching, ready to snatch that delightful state away in the blink of an eye. I don’t think I had become complacent necessarily but quite possibly I had taken my eye off the ball, distracted by feeling happy.
It’s a scary thought. When I achieved my happy state it was quite by chance. A number of things had come together to create that pleasant but transient feeling. Happiness has drifted in and out of my life since but it makes sure it doesn’t stay too long.
Then of course there is total happiness, partial happiness and marginal happiness. Happiness can easily be broken down into sub sections of ‘I’m happy with this bit of my life, but not that bit.’
I tend to go along with the idea of living in the moment brings happiness now, or at the very least contentment.
Adversity, trauma, drama, disappointment, frustration: these are the true enemies of happiness but they are the friends of a writer. By building your own character they give you the ability to build the characters in your imagination. Through your own experiences you can breathe life into their experiences. If you spend all your time being happy, it isn’t exactly going to create the drama needed to write good stories unless you have an exceedingly vivid imagination. Actually, I have that too so I’m lucky but I think you need a dose of reality to write convincingly.
It’s a good thing to feel happy but it’s no bad thing to experience other emotions too.
I’m still pondering the question of whether happiness is the enemy and if it weakens you, I’m not entirely convinced. What do you think?