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SATURDAY’S CHILD – Happiness is . . .

Tony Deyal

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There are people who find that measuring a country by its gross domestic product (GDP) or overall official economic output is grossly unfair. They argue that if money can’t buy you love, it definitely can’t buy you happiness. There are other people who disagree. American author Gertrude Stein said: “Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to shop.” Alan Alda, the actor, supported her: “It isn’t necessary to be rich and famous to be happy. It’s only necessary to be rich.”I have also heard: “Money can’t buy you happiness, it can, however, rent it.”Socrates, the Greek philosopher, was more pragmatic: “What’s the use of happiness? It can’t buy you money. By all means marry: If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”As one who became a philosopher (Socratically speaking) through the bridal path of life, I am like Charlie Brown. When I work, I work for Peanuts. All I ask from life is the chance to prove that money can’t make me happy.  The answer is that since I no longer have, or can obtain, a job, I am not contributing to the GDP. However, as a humorist, I am contributing to the GNH – the Gross National Happiness.  It is a concept that a poor country high in the Himalayas, Bhutan, gave to the world. GNH goes beyond GDP and is based on the view that beneficial development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion of sustainable development, preservation and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural environment, and establishment of good governance.Cynics don’t buy the happiness hype. They believe that one person’s happiness can be another person’s pain. A cat died and went to Heaven. God met her at the gates and said: “You have been a good cat all these years. Anything you want is yours for the asking.”The cat thought for a minute and then said: “All my life I lived on a farm and slept on hard wooden floors, I would like a real fluffy pillow to sleep on.” God said: “Say no more.”Instantly the cat had a huge fluffy pillow. A few days later, six mice were killed in an accident and they all went to Heaven together. God met the mice at the gates with the same offer that He made to the cat.
The mice said: “Well, we have had to run all of our lives from cats, dogs, and even people with brooms! If we could just have some little roller skates, we won’t have to run again.”God answered: “It is done.”All the mice had beautiful little roller skates. About a week later, God decided to check on the cat. He found her sound asleep on her fluffy pillow. God gently awakened the cat and asked: “Is everything okay? How have you been doing? Are you happy?”The cat replied: “Oh, it is wonderful! I have never been so happy in my life. The pillow is so fluffy, and those little Meals on Wheels you have been sending over are delicious!”Another example is the argument among an Englishman, a Frenchman and an Iranian.  The Englishman said: “True happiness, my friends, is rising early on a frosty autumn morning, getting on top of a good horse, and galloping off behind the hounds in pursuit of the fox. A hard ride over fields and fences and rivulets until the fox is brought down.
A ride back with the ears and the tail and then sitting before a roaring fire with a glass of good port. Ah, that is true happiness.”The Frenchman said: “That is not true happiness. That is merely animal pleasure. True happiness is meeting with the love of your life, having an intimate meal in a top-notch restaurant with champagne, and then retiring to a wonderful hotel room, where you can make frantic and impassioned love all night long. Ah, that is true happiness.” The Iranian said: “That is not true happiness. That is merely a good time. True happiness comes when you are sitting in your apartment after a hard day, reading an underground newspaper that has been smuggled to you and checking the Internet for news about the dissidents and where the next protest against President Ahmadinejad will be held.  Then there comes a knock at the door. Three agents from the Secret Service, the Mukhabarat, come storming in and ask, ‘Ardashir Khayyam?’ and you say, ‘He lives in the apartment upstairs.’ Ah, that is true happiness.” • Tony Deyal was last seen saying that when asked what she wanted most from life, the wife of French President Charles DeGaulle shocked the exalted company by saying, “A penis.” Her husband corrected her gently and said, “The English pronounce it differently, dear. They say ’appiness.”