-Posted by Isaac
What makes you happy?
The subject came up last Sunday at my mother’s family dinner. At what level of security or comfort or wealth or status could you look at your life and call yourself truly happy? It’s something to ponder isn’t it?
It’s nice that we big-brained social animals get to ponder. And there’s a lot of ponder time in the winter.
For the goats, happiness seems to equate to food. Summer or winter, it doesn’t matter, they act exactly the same as long as I follow the routine- food in the morning. I’m a slave to them. I bring the food. Sometimes the slave will talk a while, sometimes not. Sometime’s he’ll scratch ears and necks, sometimes not. The goats act the same, as long as there’s food. But if I forget, if they make it past noon and haven’t seen their slave, They let me know.
The chickens seem the same. FOOD=HAPPINESS
But what about the bees?
Where does happiness compute on the social insect scale? From my comfy truck window, it appears that the bees have it awfully rough in the winter. But who knows? Maybe they think they’ve got it good. A bee-length eternity of shelter, food, warmth, companionship… what more do you need? Is it as simple as SURVIVAL=HAPPINESS=NIRVANA?
Maybe it’s humans who have it rough. We have this hierarchy of needs.
Where are you on the Maslow scale?
What does it take to make you happy? Are you somewhere above that base of physiological needs? Or maybe the base is just well and good. I feel this way sometimes. Especially in the winter. Ok, let’s see… breathing, check… excretion, check… Cool. I’m good for today.
But most days, even in the winter, we need a little more don’t we? Family, friends, health, entertainment…
Or maybe your winter happiness requires that you invent a new reality. Travel. To hell with winter in Ohio! It’s brutal up here! Let’s go find the softer side of nature.
Unless you’re a migratory beekeeper, the poor bees don’t have the travel option. They’re forced to stay put and enjoy their nirvana in the base of Maslow’s pyramid.
We, on the other hand, can have gator nuggets in January.
And we can instantly tell our friends how good they taste… our shivering friends a thousand miles away. Talk about achievement! Talk about respect by others!
Is this happiness?
We can sit and admire the problem solving abilities of the monkeys on Monkey Island.
Talk about respect of others!
At the same time, we can easily boost our self-esteem and confidence. (I’m pretty sure by now, we would’ve figured out how to get off that island…)
Is this happiness?
You know, the more that I think about it, maybe my assumptions are completely off base. I’m assuming that, as a human, the higher you climb through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the happier you are. This may be way off. Maybe, quite possibly, needs and happiness have little to do with each other. Maybe that peak of self-actualization is reserved only for the enlightened.
If this is the case, I’m missing the boat. The enlightenment ship has set sail and I’m stuck in the shop.
I look around… still 100 nuc boxes to finish, 50 drip boards to paint, 50 comb boxes to prep, 1000 frames to build… goat pens to fix, horse pastures to fence, chicken waterer to invent, extractor to repair, barn to build, trees to cut, firewood to stack… there’s just no time for Facebook!
I’ll never reach morality… lack of prejudice… acceptance of facts…
But you know, I still feel pretty happy. Even in the Ohio winter. Maybe for this human, the key is just keeping busy. BUSYNESS=HAPPINESS.
And thankfully, hobby farming and keeping bees provides someone of my low enlightenment stature with an endless list of mundane tasks. Maybe I’ll never reach Maslow’s peak, but on the other had, I’ll never deplete the happiness tank.