Tuesday, October 25, 2015 7:00 PM / Posted by Nichole Harju
Nichole Harju is a student in the public relations degree program at Humber College
You can hear the ringing of your fire alarm echoing through your ears; you have 60 seconds, what do you grab?
This scenario may seem very odd and extreme, but it begs the bigger question of what makes us as Canadians happy? Philosophers for centuries have tried to find the root of happiness, though due to insufficient proof the question remains unanswered. As we see society advance the lines between what we want and what we need become more and more blurred, thus moving us further away for obtaining happiness.
Arguably happiness can be seen to branch from three simple, natural but necessary things; friendship, freedom and thoughts.
- Friendship being the most important. This concept relates to the philosophical quote, “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, did it really fall?” Meaning that we don’t exist or hold meaning unless there is someone there that sees us existing. In extension a friend affirms our identity.
- Freedom speaks to life being not about quantity but rather quality. We need to liberate ourselves from materialistic goods we possess, as well as our human instinctual need to impress others through these possessions.
- Finally, there are thoughts. Unhappiness can be linked to high levels of anxiety. Though the best remedy for inducing high levels of anxiety is talking and writing about the very thing that makes us anxious in the first place.
Now that we have set the foundation for what should make Canadians happy we can now highlight how we as a society have become tainted in our pursuit of happiness. We have grown accustom to things that are natural to our human need but are unnecessary. This would include luxury goods like cars and big houses. The start of this pursuit can be dated back to the Industrial Revolution which helped shape a consumerism culture. The advancements in energy and factories created an opportunity for products to be produced at a more efficient pace which led to the increase of products being put on the market to be consumed. Every day society tries to sell us happiness as if it is a product and this has led to the development of a throwaway society. We are in constant pursuit of the illusion that happiness can be found in materialistic objects. They tell us to consume and we consume it. These objects tend to feel like a plausible solution to the needs we don’t understand but in reality they only mimic the psychological dimension we need.
Advertising also entices us through sly associations of superfluous objects without our other forgotten needs. This can be seen in many commercials, particularly in car advertisements. In most car commercials you see the people smiling ear-to-ear driving through beautiful open terrain. This commercial would then suggest that these smiling people are happy; this happiness is linked to our natural need for freedom. From this, one arrives unconsciously at the conclusion that freedom, therefore happiness, can be obtained through the purchase of an object, being the car.
Overall, products only mimic the core essentials of happiness being; friendship, freedom and thought. We will never truly obtain happiness if we are lacking something that is essentially natural and necessary. So when you get your 60 seconds, what will you grab?
TOPICS: Canada/ Society/ Happiness/ Materialism