image by elycefeliz
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me, what I wanted to be when I grew up I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
– John Lennon
Think back to your childhood, and whether your parents told you anything about the purpose of life. If you are a parent, think about the message you are sending to your children. Have you ever spoken to them about the key to life? Probably not. Most parents don’t use such phrase with their children. So Lennon, in my opinion, was lucky to receive that message from his mother. (It’s irrelevant if he’s paraphrasing his mother for the purpose of this article.)
Most parents – especially the majority who are made up of working-class, hard-working people – teach their children to work hard, get good grades, don’t do anyone harm, achieve a measure of tangible success that can be viewed by the society as success, and settle down with a family. That is how the meaning of life is described to us in a roundabout way, because that’s what we are taught to do with life. Majority of us are not told: your life’s purpose is to be happy.
It’s not the parents’ fault, or anyone’s fault. Happiness is relative. One can’t remain in the state of happiness 24/7. Happiness won’t put food on the table, or cloth your kids. So parents, being the well-meaning specie they are, arm us with tools for our survival with as much comfort as possible.
However, as an adult, having been through some ups and downs, having made mistakes and learnt lessons, and having wasted time life that could have been better spent, I think we should take Lennon’s mother’s advice – but not too literally.
Happiness is the key to life, which means we should pursue things that make us happy. It is not the fleeting joy we should chase, but permanent contentment. Happiness doesn’t mean we should be laughing or even smiling all the time. Sorrows and loss are inevitable part of life. The happiness that we should be pursuing is the kind that should make us feel content with our place in life, even when we are down in the dumps. This happiness is in knowing that we are doing what we are meant to be doing, diligently working to fulfil the purpose of our life, contributing to this great universe in our own way, and striving to be the best that we can be.
What do you think? What is the message that you will pass onto your children now?