Last week I saw the new documentary about Ingrid Bergman, my fellow countrywoman and Hollywood star of movies like Casablanca and Gaslight. Part of the move told of the scandal she caused by leaving her husband and child for another man and starting a family with him. When interviewed about it, Bergman simply shrugged and said that she did what suited and pleased her in life, and thus urged others to do the same.
Similar sentiments were once expressed by the late Ayn Rand through her theory of Objectivism – which we are only truly contributing to society when we are dancing to the beat of our own drum. She heralded a very specific kind of selfishness, in my interpretation that of being true to oneself and placing ones focus on that. Pursuit of one’s own happiness being a worthy cause is something with which the Dalai Lama would agree as well.
This topic could be controversial however. “What would the world look like if everybody ran around just focusing on themselves?” Well. Maybe Voltaire’s dream in Candide would come true? Everybody would simply tend to their own garden and not worry so much about what others thought or did.
I think there is an important distinction to make here however. This is not about everyone running around trying to fulfill their desires – the common misconception about the pursuit of happiness. But, you say, if happiness is not about fulfilling ones desires, what is it about? There is a very specific type of happiness distinct from the rush of getting what you want. Most world religions speak of it:
Philippians 4:7: (There is a) peace which passeth all understanding….
The Buddha: Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
The latter points to the point. Making your own life into a work art for the benefit of all is the biggest contribution you can make. Steve Jobs, for example, didn’t like people much, and yet; he wanted to give the world objects of absolute beauty that would help them in their life.
When do you feel that you are most true to yourself?
Butt in please.