There are a fair selection of partially formed thoughts that I want to share with my reader today. It’s been a day for deep thinking and inaction. There is a need for catharsis, a pause in which to infuse fresh air into life and find new ground, a new base from which to derive vitality.
The thought that I have decided to share, perhaps singularly selected for its contrast, is that remarkable ability that we have, we as people, to share in the happiness of others. Again this is one of those topics that are incredibly hard to describe but I think that I am not be amiss to again appeal to the common human experience to ground my argument.
We all have our ups and downs in life. We all experience moments of exquisite joy and unbearable agony. We all steel ourselves in how we will react, anticipate the worse and prepare ourselves, and overestimate the good, our anticipation taking the edge off our joy. We all form barriers to live through life. It takes out the instability, the roller coaster of emotions, and it lets us make pragmatic choices, day to day, moment to moment.
But this barrier we build only applies to us, and to our own lives. After all we cannot know all the ups and downs that surround the lives of those close to us. I shall give you the example that makes me write this piece, and serves as my template. A few days ago a friend of mine told me that he had finally met a girl whom with everything for him (and her!!!) felt just right, they thought the same thoughts, wanted to do the same things and shared the same interests. His happiness, his joy radiated outwards, and I (allied with an inclination to poke fun at him, I’m human after all) felt his happiness hit me. It was a qualitatively different sort of happiness than I have felt in a long time. I felt so strongly genuinely happy for him then I can ever recall feeling in the last few months. I don’t actually recall feeling happy with that kind of authenticity in a long time.
The ancients were no doubt aware of this, we have that famous saying that a joy shared is a joy doubled, and every culture has its variation of it, compounded to stress how wonderful a feeling this is.
Its implications for how we should live life and what we should do in our daily lives is also interesting, especially for one like me who’s a fan of some form of rugged individualism in our extremely co-dependant society. It suggests to me actually, that the highest peaks of happiness are actually found passively. By being there for other people when they go through their ups and downs, for this fidelity we are rewarded by being allowed to partake in their happiness. It may be that we are rewarded better then they themselves are. It would seem to follow that the more people you make common cause with, the more people you walk alongside down life’s byways, the more often you will share their joys. And perhaps that sharing these joys will be the most important experiences you can ever have. That this share is more then ample recompense for any hardships you might shoulder alongside them I think is apparent from every word I write.