I’m not a big believer in absolutes.
Too many people only see things in black and white. It either is or it isn’t; it’s right or it’s wrong. I think such simple terms can rarely be applied in practice.
I studied law after leaving school, so maybe my perspective is down to that; looking at everything from multiple angles, arguing every case for and against. Not that I took up law for a living. I always felt it was an interesting subject, but a dull lifestyle choice. But, hey, what do I know?
Anyway, black and white always seemed far too simple for me. Not that I’m a fan of grey. Grey is also dull. I like to see things in shades of purple. Prince knows what I’m talking about.
Life isn’t simple. It isn’t split into well delineated categories. It’s complex, without some infinite book of rules to tell us how to respond to a situation. Our decisions are the result of a lifetime of experience, or lack thereof. What makes them right or wrong? Perception? Group assessment? Peer review? A holy book?
In my view, we’re all just talking monkeys. We’re apes that have grown too big for our trees. There’s no purpose, no right or wrong, somehow written into our existence.
We’re just here. Evolutionary quirks and freaks, everyone.
We’ve no manifest destiny. We’re not subject to the whims of stars or gods. We just are.
So do I believe we can just do what we want?
Well, technically, yes. But that road is bleak and leads to chaos, so it’s not one I advocate.
If we’re here, why not enjoy it? Everyone likes to be happy, don’t they? So do what makes you happy!
But, in a purple world, there needs to be conditions on that. To be happy, you need to live in a condition that enables you to be happy, where people are not preventing you from being happy. Also, for other people to be happy, they need to live in a condition that enables them to be happy, where other people (including you) are not preventing them from being happy, Therefore, if people focussed on making themselves happy, but not to the exclusion of others being happy, we’d all be happy. Wouldn’t we?
Is it really that simple? Probably not. It’s more purple than that in practice. But it’s a start.
This is obviously nothing new. It’s been said before: “do onto others as you’d have them do onto you”. It is a simple concept. Not that I’m a religious man (you’ve probably gathered that from the above) but that doesn’t mean I can’t recognise that some religions have had good ideas from time to time! (Purple thinking in action).
So if this idea is so simple, why aren’t we all happy?
Probably two main reasons:
- we’re all only focused on the first part, making ourselves happy, to the exclusion of the latter part, making others happy
- we’re probably chasing the wrong things to make us happy in the first place, focussing on quick fix happiness, rather than long term happiness.
There I go using that “wrong” word again. That’s not very purple of me. But you get my point, don’t you?
Maybe if we focussed on the people around us and how we can influence their happiness, rather than just focussing on how they could (or even should) make us happy, we’d find that just making them happy made us happy in the long term.
Afterall, we talking monkeys are such simple purple creatures.