A rant on personal fulfilment

I haven’t listened to Radio 5 Live’s morning phone in for quite a while. I gave in after one too many occasions on which it seemed simply to be inviting bigots to air their views in public.

I tuned in this morning however, and, to be honest, it hadn’t changed very much. However, one call really made me think, but probably not in the way the caller intended. The caller said this…. “.. What with the Jubilee, the Olympics and Euro 2012, this is the best year of our lives”.

I was staggered by that. Leaving aside the merits of any one of those events, I don’t want to get into that discussion, it made me think about what most people actually view as enjoyment and fulfilment. I can concede that, if you were a sports loving royalist who happened to be able to attend every Jubilee event, every Euro 2012 game, and all of the Olympics, then you’d have a pretty good time. However, I suspect the majority of people are not in that position, and yet, a lot of people seem to get caught up in some spirit of forced merry-making, because other people says it’s good for them. Now, I hope I am not a kill-joy, I enjoy a good party as much as the next person, and I actually attended some Jubilee events (in a professional capacity) where it was heart-warming to see communities coming together. I couldn’t help wondering, nevertheless, why it should take the celebration of an anniversary of a distant monarch to bring them together.

This led me to thinking about what it is that makes people feel satisfied, happy and fulfilled. For me, that comes from within, I wouldn’t dream of pinning my hopes of fulfilment on some state-manufactured celebration. Who are the kinds of people whose idea of a good time depends on what some authority has prepared for them? I am a firm believer that we create our own happiness, but, maybe I am in the minority. I makes me sad to think that there may be so many whose idea of happiness depends on whether or not their country is staging a major sporting event.

Perhaps it’s the same impulse that drives people to watch endless TV soap operas instead of getting on with their own lives, and to hero-worship celebrities as if some of their fame, fortune and fulfilment will rub off on them.  Perhaps they are also the kind of people who read fantasy novels on the commute to the boring job rather than doing anything about the monotony of their own daily existence.

I hope this doesn’t sound glib, and I fully understand that there are many obstacles which stand in the way of people taking control of their own lives and reaching their destinies. That shouldn’t stop us trying, however. We all need our own little bits of autonomy. I believe we should all make our own happiness, and, where we can, we should do our best to help others do the same for themselves.

For me, the best times of my life are about things that I make happen; about sharing experiences with friends and family; and about myself and the people around me growing as human beings. We should live our own lives and make our own celebrations, not wait around for the Olympics or Eastenders to deliver for us.

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