Over the mountains, far to travel, people say, Happiness dwells. Alas, and I went in the crowd of the others, and returned with a tear-stained face. Over the mountains, far to travel, people say, Happiness dwells.
In the Kyeongyang magazine a teaching
professor in psychiatry begins his article on
Happiness, with the above poem by the
German poet Uber den Bergen. All of us
know that we never have happiness under
our control. Known, but at the same time
sad. Happiness is the desire of all but not easily realized.
Many are the rights that humans can truly hope to realize.
The right to be free from a disease. Just up to a few
centuries ago half of the babies would die. Those who were
fortunate to live through infancy would face hunger and
contagious diseases. Those able to see their
grandchildren were few. To die in old age was rare.
Today this is taken for granted in many societies.
The right to liberty is something like air we breathe but
about a half a century ago women were not able to vote
or own property. One's freedom came with the social class
they belonged to at birth. Freedom of encounter, religion,
street address and the like were all controlled.
There is no question that we are now freer, healthier and
live longer than in the past but are we happier? The Korean
Constitution makes clear the various rights citizens
have: right to be respected, pursuit of happiness, life,
liberty, equality... What is interesting is that all except
happiness are rights but happiness is not—we are given the
right to pursue happiness.
This was added to the constitution in 1987, it is believed this
came from the United States Declaration of Independence.
No one is able to give one happiness, neither the
State or society but only the opportunity to pursue it.
Originally happiness was the practice of virtue for a
full life which opened one to the goodness of happiness. But
it suddenly changed into emotional peace and pleasure.
Results of mental activity is behavior but now we have
mental activity without behavior considered as happiness.
A person who is a good cook prepares a nutritious and
delicious meal. An expected result of her skill. But what has
happened is we have cancelled out the expert cook, the
ingredients, the devotion of the cook and the
process and look for the emotional joy of a delicious meal.
The pursuit of happiness is much of the same as the
example of a delicious meal.It's a process. If we cancel the
long period of preparation and just expect happiness,
something is seriously amiss.
The results of 'emotional happiness' do not last long. When
we get rid of an uncomfortable situation and feel relieved
or receive what we desired this doesn't last long. The
Dopamine effect is brief. Happiness requires a long period
of preparation. Here in Korea happiness seems to be a rare
commonity. The writer makes clear he believes 80 percent
comes from our effort.
He concludes the article with a list of the virtues and vices.
The practice of one and the avoidence of the other. And a
line from Psalm 128: "You will eat what your hands have
worked for, happiness and prosperity will be yours."