Happiness is a topical issue that leaves no one indifferent; it should be recognized that absolutely everyone wants to be happy and wishes happiness to close people. Happiness is a state of complete satisfaction with life; expression of joy from communication with relatives, friends; success, luck. Happiness is a concept of moral consciousness that denotes the state of man that best meets his human purpose’s inner needs and fulfillment. The idea of happiness refers to the spiritual world of man, so it is different for everyone. There is a general concept of happiness in society, measured by dreams realized in reality and achieved goals. In fact, everyone’s dreams are different, so the components of happiness can differ significantly. Therefore, happiness is only for some people to achieve individual desires, the enjoyment of personal freedom. However, for others, satisfaction is to remain in society and build the common good.
The importance of personal freedom as a component of happiness in the modern world
The modern world prepares many problems and challenges for people; to deal with this requires a lot of time. Issues range from dismissal at work to the discovery of a deadly disease. Accumulated problems and responsibilities do not give a feeling of lightness and satisfaction with the state of affairs. According to Rand, society creates for people within a specific framework and determines the future without human consent (7). When someone decides the fate of people is unacceptable because the opinion and desires of a particular person are not considered. This even affects the performance indicators because it is better for a person to do the desired thing than the one given to him by distribution.
In today’s world, the state or society always influences people’s lives, which is manifested in the creation of norms and rules governing the coexistence of people (Stets 5). In addition, the state has such an influence only on the most important spheres of life and only to achieve prosperity. When state mechanisms regulate absolutely all parts of human life, the situation leads to the loss of individuality and the transformation of people into controllable copies.
In fact, some people may feel comfortable in such a society, but there will always be those who will not follow the rules and look for a way out of the situation. Those who disagree with society will defend their rights to live by democratic rules, leading to a split in the old community. A man trying to change an established organization is like Prometheus because the mission of the discoverer of new opportunities and rights is also full of suffering and misunderstanding (Hesiod). Despite the despair and misunderstanding of others, the mission of the discoverer will eventually lead to the discovery of new knowledge and promising opportunities.
The right to individual freedom allows a person to participate in the choice of profession, worldview, and loved ones. The right choice gives a taste for life and a sense of control over tomorrow. For people who value individual freedom, the choice becomes real happiness. Especially valuable is the right to one’s personality, which can only be gained through suffering and great strength of spirit. The concept of happiness should be understood not as material wealth but as psychological satisfaction. Happiness is a free life in an old house in the middle of the forest, instead of having all the benefits of civilization and feeling powerless.
Components of individual freedom
A person’s character consists of many characteristics, such as strength of spirit, self-confidence, and faith. According to McRaney, people tend to trust authoritative sources while rejecting their observations and knowledge (94). In fact, experts in a particular field can not always guarantee the correctness of ideas. To not blindly believe other people’s opinions, it is necessary to use critical thinking and analyze the situation. For example, the protagonist did not take other people’s words too seriously; he tried to find a balance between public opinion and his considerations (Rand). It is the possibility of critical thinking that allowed the hero to understand that his rights have been violated, and there is almost no hope of restoring freedom. Unfortunately, public opinion is so ingrained in the usual system that it is difficult to find a way out of the situation and not become an outcast.
Another component of individual freedom is the ability to verify the information. Although such an opportunity is provided only in a democratic society, the authentic facts can destroy in times of collectivism and socialism. The next component of freedom is the refusal to play by the rules of the majority (McRaney 114). Most do not always play fair; everyone tries to find some advantage but justifies the action of following the rules of the game. In fact, the game rules are designed to benefit someone, as in a socialist society. Thus, the components of freedom are critical thinking, fact-checking, and disobedience to the majority. All these features were present in the book’s main character, which gave him extraordinary strength to fight the system, not knowing what is happening outside the ordinary world.
People, not society, make a choice
Human is a free individual because he is gifted with intelligence. People refer to determinism to justify actions, eliminate the fear of risk for the choice made, the burden of responsibility (Sartre 139). Humans, as free creatures, always have a choice; a person’s will determines his attitude to the situation. Definitely, not many people can resist the traditions, culture, and way of life that shape the consciousness and vision of the human world (Tokuda 2581). Such a confrontation may not always be successful because the system does not need people who have the opposite mindset. One can agree that it is difficult for a person to resist when the whole society supports collectivism. However, given that the community has renounced personal rights and changed the social system, this confirms the view that people have an alternative and choose the worse situation.
The socialist system has many levers of influence, from detention to torture, which helps break the spirit of human struggle. At the same time, the taste of victory and gaining individual freedom after a hard fight can be called true happiness (Rand). The novel’s hero was overwhelmed by the fear of the unknown, so he did not immediately realize that now his rights are not limited, and he is free to choose the future.
To be free is to understand freedom and then to act. Freedom is the capacity of a person to work in accordance with desires, interests, goals based on knowledge of objective reality. Freedom is the ability to choose options for events, and the lack of variety is equal to the lack of freedom. The concepts and limits of freedom are created and regulated by society. If several generations of people hold collective views, then the attempts may be unsuccessful if the descendants try to protect individual rights. Although, there will always be at least one person who will not follow the instructions of society. At first, it will face resistance to its views, but it will lose collectivism and be able to enjoy individual rights in the long run.
Thus, the hero of the work considered happiness an opportunity to make decisions and choose the future. He has strong character traits that allowed him to think critically and analyze the behavior of others. He also deserves great respect for his disobedience to the system; even from imprisonment, the protagonist could escape and was not afraid to go in search of freedom. Contrary to popular belief that society shapes a person, the hero of the work tried to conduct research and help others understand the long-forgotten truth. Unfortunately, the collective system is so strong that even the invention of electricity again did not become a convincing argument. The inventor was punished for wanting to open knowledge to the masses. After fleeing, he finally felt free and ready to explore unexplored territories to restore democratic civilization.
It should be concluded that in the novel, quite familiar with things and concepts have become forbidden. It is worth concluding that items that are quite commonplace for us have become prohibited. Therefore, it is worth thinking about the value and uniqueness of the opportunities provided and use the available benefits to achieve happiness.
Hesiod. Theogony. Works and Days. Testimonia. Edited and translated by Glenn W. MA: Harvard University Press, 2018.
McRaney, David. You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself. Avery, 2012.
Rand, Ayn. Anthem. New York: Dutton, 1995.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. The Age of Reason. Penguin Books Ltd, 2016.
Stets, Jan. “Happiness and Identities”. Social Science Research, vol. 58, no.10, 2016, pp.1-13.
Tokuda, Yasuharu. “Individual and Country-Level Effects of Social Trust on Happiness: The Asia Barometer Survey”. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, vol. 40, no. 10, 2017, pp. 2574–2593.