The Happiest Emotion

By Hoi Sin

Hoi Sin does not exist, has never existed and can never exist. But we keep getting articles.

Have you ever found yourself, dear readers, sitting alone in a café meditating over a cup of coffee? Have you ever let you mind wander, and suddenly found yourself pondering on something you have never considered before? Well, next time you do that, why not try wondering about happiness? Why does it exist? And how? It is a subject we ourselves have thought on quite a lot, and to get an answer we decided to find some happy people. To do this, we had venture to a place happy people often go: outside. The first one we saw was a young woman at the park, happily watching a child—her child—who was happily playing. They fit the criteria quite well. To protect her anonymity, we shall call her SophiA. She never actually told us her name, dear readers, so if that is actually it, please try to forget it.

Possibly due to curiosity, but more likely our social ineptitude, we asked her why she was happy. Unfortunately, SophiA was not very co-operative when confronted, and seemed to simply stop being happy and left. This raises many more questions than can be addressed in this article alone. However, dear readers, we did find some information from this pair. Until SophiA hurriedly ushered the child away, darting glances back at our analysing gaze the whole while, the child was still happy. So the happiness of the child is not dependent on the happiness of the mother. Is the opposite true?

To test this we found a few more subjects and asked them similar questions—with similar responses. A child, who we will call SophiB, seemed very confused at even our most basic line of questioning, and his mother, SophiC became unhappy and repeated the actions of SophiA. As far as we could tell, the confusion of the unlearned toddler was not happiness. In all, five afternoons were ruined. We feel somewhat responsible. Unfortunately, there was a lack of happy people in our cell, so we could not glean any more information on the subject. This at least, dear readers, gave us time to ponder on what we had gained. It seemed that the children were happy because they were playing, and became unhappy once interrupted, while the mothers were only happy when no one was asking any questions. So: mothers, in general, do not like questions and tend to move away from them; while children do not like moving. We still do not understand why the two parties continue to mingle despite a clear conflict of interests.

The only thing that seemed to connect them was that the happiness of the child affected the happiness of the mother. Aloud and loudly, we wondered why, sparking the interest of a man with a broken nose sitting in the corner. After several failed attempts at pronunciation, (of which, “unpihy” was followed by raucous, confidence-building applause), he communicated to us that it was something called “empathy.”

For you, dear readers, perfect as you are, we believe empathy is best described with an alteration of a famous line: “Feel unto others what you would have them feel for you”. It’s the ability to experience what others feel. But humans are not perfect in this art. When one empathises with another, they feel what they themselves would feel instead of what the person is actually emoting. So why did the mother show this empathy while the child did not? The answer is devilishly simple. The mother did not like questions, so when we asked some of the child, she felt her inherent dislike of them through her child. The child, as uneducated as he was, was open-minded enough to not have developed an irrational hatred of intrusive lines of questioning.

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said that “the thing is to find a truth which is true for me”. That, dear readers, that is the hard part. It is difficult to judge ourselves, much easier to judge another. Often we simply see through our own eyes, and assume that what is true for us is true for them as well. Next time you see an annoying person, for example, perhaps you should wonder if they see the same thing as you. Ask yourself, what do they see in me? What do they see in themselves? If empathy is to be done right, we must empathise with our enemies, see our own faults and fix them. Only then can we truly make everybody happy. In the end, this all points to two things:

1.If you see someone who is happy, empathise and be happy for them.

2.If you see someone who is unhappy, empathise and make them happy.

And that’s how we’ll get to world peace.

Until next time,

Hoi Sin

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