Happiness is arguably the most coveted state in the world. Everyone wants it—to feel it and live in it, no matter their background, race, age, or socioeconomic status—it crosses all divides. The universal desire for happiness even transcends time; no matter the year or the system of government in place, it’s always been a constant. That’s because it implies peace of mind and soul, and isn’t that what we're all ultimately after? Antony Gordon tackles this very subject on the most recent episode of his namesake podcast with his guest, political commentator, radio show host, and writer, Dennis Prager. The Antony Gordon Show strives to uncover the intricacies of life—from psychological states to ethical behaviors, and how to navigate both during turbulent times—while simultaneously debunking pop-culture norms. It’s only fitting that the topic of happiness, what it really is and why so many people struggle to find it, took center stage in Gordon’s conversation with Prager who hosts Happiness Hour.
Besides the obvious importance of the topic, the fact that in the last few months there has been a drastic rise in antidepressant prescriptions, is telling of our society's clear deficit of happiness. And according to Prager, also of our misunderstanding of the term itself, “people don’t really know what it is,” and ironically most things that pop culture sells to us as an avenue to achieve it, do the opposite, he explains in the episode. People think happiness comes from material and external things—as seen in our overtly consumerist-driven world—yet this is off base. “Happiness is within—we’re responsible for our own happiness,” explains Gordon. Yet, even America’s unofficial motto, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” implies that it is something to be found somewhere else. It’s no wonder so many are lost in the abyss, with seemingly no way out.
A key differentiation that Gordon and Prager make in the episode is that fun is not synonymous with happiness, yet the two words are often seen as one in the same. The former is a transient rush that’s not sustainable. While the latter is the “byproduct of living a meaningful life,” as Gordon puts it. It is not a distant state to journey to by exotic experiences, it is a state of mind. And to achieve it, the duo explains, one must live a life of purpose and meaning, and give more than we take. For millennials and Gen Z, who are often labeled as entitled, this idea may seem far-fetched, if not a turn-off. Yet, in the episode this is accounted to both our society moving further away from traditional values, and the nihilistic views of what “life should be” that are perpetuated and promoted by pop culture and social media. Gordon and Prager argue that this lifestyle goes not only against our human nature—our roots and the core of our being—but also against finding true meaning in life, and thus achieving real happiness. The deeper we dive into a digital space (and the more time we spend there), and the more we fill ourselves with materialistic things, the further away we move from our desired higher goal.
The genesis of happiness is within, and we can tap into this part of ourselves by living a meaningful life, which happens to be a common theme of the show. Yet to do this, we must stop waiting for the perfect moment—for everything around us to be just right in order to begin a project, adopt a new habit, pursue a dream, or make a difference in the world around us. As Gordon notes, that moment will never come. Instead he urges listeners to “learn to dance in the rain.” While the pandemic has revealed cracks and deficits in many people, forcing so many of us to come face to face without both our shortcomings and our truth, it has also provided a unique pause—an opportunity to really reflect and to fully see ourselves. So, what better time than right now, amidst what can be referred to as a global storm (if not a tsunami), to begin the journey of self-work and finding meaning in life...to move closer to real happiness that emanates from within each and every one of us. No one is getting a personal “rainbow” of happiness delivered by Amazon; we must face the storm before we can bask in the light, that is happiness.