Are We Happier Than Our Forefathers?
Are we happier than our forefathers? It is difficult to answer this question because the meaning of the word “happiness” differs from person to person and from time to time even with the same person.
No doubt, we produce and consume at present plenty of goods which our forefathers might not even have dreamt of. We have speedier means of transport and communication, a wide variety of entertainment media, an improved system of public health and hygiene, better medical facilities, better civic amenities, and greater social and political stability and security. Modern man enjoys comforts, luxuries, and pleasures that even kings and emperors of the past did not even think of.
But against all this, we have slums, pollution, organized crime, and social and political conflicts. The majority of people live in abject poverty under degrading living conditions. There is noise and congestion, hustle and bustle, hurry and worry. Life is full of stress and tension. There is a pleasure but no contentment. There is progress, but no peace of mind. In the midst of affluence, we feel a vacuum that we try to fill with more and more pleasures and excitement. But as we are totally divorced from nature, we are unable to enjoy the simple beauties of nature. We are so much engrossed in the dull and drab work that we have no time to stand and stare at the natural beauty around us. Neither do we enjoy simple things of life. The food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe are all polluted and contaminated. We are so much used to comforts and luxuries that we have become soft, pleasure-seeking people, averse to physical labor. The result is that those of us who eat rich food cannot digest it. On account of worries, tension, over-excitement, and the absence of physical labor, we do not get sound sleep at night. We do not have peace of mind which is an essential condition of happiness.
As against this, our forefathers lived a simple life. They had fewer wants which they satisfied by working hard. They had sound sleep at night. They were strong sturdy and healthy people who fully enjoyed the simple things of life. Their life was in tune with nature. They liked and enjoyed the beauties of nature. They lived contented and peaceful life.
If we think that happiness consists of material comforts, we are, no doubt, happier than our forefathers. If pleasures are called happiness, we are, indeed, happier. But if contentment and peace of mind are considered to be an essential condition of happiness, surely our forefathers were far more happy than we are.