Marginal utility: The additional satisfaction, or pleasure gained from an incremental amount of anything, physical or otherwise. A vital concept in economics, which holds true in every aspect of life as well. Usually in pursuit of our “ultimate goals”, we fail to consider the bigger picture: life is not just starting from one end, and reaching the other. The journey through, consists of the larger chunk of time we spend. And thus, that is where we should focus more of our attention on.
In the early 20th century, there was someone who did point out the importance of taking time out for oneself: W.H. Davies. Even though his words have been immortalised, they have hardly been followed. We still associate laziness, and lack of ambition with those who choose to sometimes “stand and stare”.
With time, happiness became a synonym of success, and success underwent a heinous mutation to refer to anything which may become a subject of jealousy: a high paying job, an expensive car you have no practical use for other than making sure it becomes an object of envy in your neighbourhood, that world trip which you chose only cos someone you knew returned from one a couple of weeks ago. All these may satiate our ego, but underneath all the facade, most of the time we do feel empty inside.
Every time we achieve one of our goals, we set another one; never satisfied, always moving. We push ourselves, promising one more step, and then the next. And we stop deriving pleasure from our achievements. We are simply supposed to get it all. And that’s when our achievements become our bane. It adds more pressure on us to perform better and better, like a positive feedback mechanism; the more we achieve in one cycle, the more we have to work hard in the next.
And trapped within the rat race, we forget the fact that sometimes the greatest bit of happiness comes from the smallest things:
- A cute puppy following you around, vigorously wagging its tail, hoping for another cookie like you so generously gave it seconds ago
- Getting to play your favorite sports post exams.
- Def that difficult boss, who had dampened your progress in the game since a long time.
- Finally listening to that song whose tune you have been humming from God knows when.
- At last, going on that long ride you had planned for over a year.
An accepted friend request, perhaps…