The Demand for Happiness

 

A few days ago, I learned something pretty interesting in class. Economics, to be specific. It’s not one of the subjects I love but our current lesson made me think about something beyond resources and consumers. We’re currently in the topic of Supply and Demand — and we started with looking deeper into the concept of Demand. The Law of Demand states that “all else being equal, as the price of a product increases, quantity demanded lowers.” It’s a commonly known concept in Economics and is now taught to other high school students everywhere. However, in the middle of discussion, my mind trailed off in deep thought, contemplating on this law and if it still applies for something else than a product, if it could still be applied to something abstract. 

Happiness.

Everyone yearns for happiness. If happiness was a tangible object sold in stores worldwide, people would be lining up in queues as long as the ones when the newest version of the most sought after iPhone comes out. People generally want to be happy. People long for a reason to smile, a reason to hold on, a reason to hope. If so many people want it, why is the price still high? Why is it that it’s so difficult to gain when there’s so much people who want it? When there is so much demand?

Is it possible that happiness is an exemption from this economic law? 

After much reflection, I concluded that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t. What if the demand is for a wrong kind of happiness? What if all we were fighting for all this time was a selfish type of happiness, where we were only concerned with ourselves? We have grown overly preoccupied with going after what we think would make us satisfied. We never wanted authentic happiness. The reason? Because it’s more difficult to attain.

The temporary happiness we feel after say, a high score on an exam or a project proposal that got approved lasts for only a while. There is still a price we pay — sleepless nights and rejected dates however, those are things we could always “get back to.” Authentic happiness, being a communal one, proves tedious to gain because it takes effort from a group of people and this is even more difficult when all of them are going after their own interests. Due to the high price, people settle for the one that requires less effort and time: selfish happiness. 

If more people would genuinely believe and want happiness for all, then the price wouldn’t be as high. After all, that’s what the Law of Demand says. 

Sacrifice is scarce. Selflessness is rare. But it’s certainly not unheard of.

We’ve seen extraordinary people who went out of their ways and sacrificed their own selfish pursuits for the community. Many of them are unsung heroes, some of them now saints, and others awarded by prestige organizations. These are the people who have paid the price for everyone else — and it’s now the youth’s turn to be the one to bring the price for happiness lower. It’s up to us kids to want to change this world. 

Through little or big acts of kindness, anyone anywhere can be the reason for someone else who truly needs it to smile. To be happy. 

What a Great Time to be Alive

After taking up Nipun Mehta’s graduation speech entitled “Miserable and Magical” in my English IV class, I am immensely inspired to do something worthwhile with my life. The feeling I had after reading that essay evoked something real, something concrete in me that no other essay or speech have reached. This is one of those rare moments in my life when I finally realized all the good I can achieve, all the kind deeds I can do, and all the hearts I can touch. Needless to say: it was an eye-opening experience.

“Give, receive and dance.” These are the three keys Nipun Mehta to overcome the millenial traits of having a sense of entitlement and narcissism. These are now the three things I commit myself to do. Simple, brief and catchy: these keys summarize everything about kindness. Kindness, as I have observed, is everywhere these days. Maybe it’s because we read it for class but I have come to see goodness in my batchmates inside and outside the classrooms: they smile more now, they greet everyone sincerely amidst the tired look in their eyes, and they don’t even think twice about doing random acts of kindness that range from paying for the next kid who wants cotton candy to leaving a cupcake for the teacher in order to sweeten their day. What a great time to be alive! If every week was like this one: I wouldn’t mind how “cheesy” everything is. Amidst all the academic stress, there is no time to be negative when you’re surrounded by such kindness.

The past few weeks have been a wild roller coaster for me – with the occasional migraines and surprisingly, a huge number of miracles.  I find myself thanking God every single day — and I find that it’s a better way to spend my time rather than wasting precious time complaining over and over again about the troubles I face.

Last week, I was quite weary after dealing with my duties as a club head and on the day of my school’s Pep Rally, I was close to losing all my energy and enthusiasm. An unexpected blessing came in the form of my new freshman friend who handed me a letter calling me “Ate” (Filipino for sister) and wishing me luck for my upcoming college entrance exams. This simple act of kindness gave me so much hope and happiness (100x more than what Coca-Cola ever gave me!) that I quickly regained my enthusiasm and going forth to cheer and show my spirit for my school.

Today was an interesting day as well: my mother and I were walking home when a van stopped near us. It turned out that it was our usual carpool we thought we missed and they stopped so they could let us ride. This saved us a number of steps going home and the bus fee. Happy that I got to rest my feet and ride a comfortable car home, I went to buy my mother roses while she stayed in the market to show how much I love her especially now that she’s been having bad days. With a spark in my heart and a smile on my face, I walked home happily and what happened next goes to show how the cycle of kindness is wonderful — my brother bought twenty drinks in his cafeteria just so he could collect coupons so he could get me something I’ve wanted for the longest time: a Coca-Cola planner.

Again, what a great time to be alive!

The kindness we give goes back to us whether or not we expected it.

Most of the time, we don’t even expect anymore. The happiness we feel when we do something good is somehow enough for us.

“A hundred million miracles are happening everyday.” We just have to open our minds and eyes to witness the goodness we overlook in the people around us. This janitor named “Kuya Tolits” would never fail to greet me with the warmest smile I have ever seen and he does not know how much difference it makes to me to be greeted with such enthusiasm and sincerity in the drowsiest of mornings and the sleepiest of afternoons. He will, soon. 🙂

“Give, receive and dance.” – Nipun Mehta.