I saw the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” the other day. Bravo! It was so powerful to see an all-asian cast for the first time on the big screen. I applaud the movie– so fun, poignant and engaging! Plus, the soundtrack was just plain awesome.
At one point near the end of the movie, Eleanor Young, the mother and matriarch of the family, says something that struck me. She is from Singapore, and she is speaking to her son’s girlfriend Rachel, a Chinese woman who was born and raised in America. She says, “All Americans think about is their own happiness. It is an illusion.”
This moment demonstrates the huge difference between the two women’s cultures. Eleanor believes one must put family above all else– career, romance, etc. Happiness is not the top priority on that list. She does not believe the young Rachel will ever be able to make those sacrifices because she was born and raised in a culture that preaches happiness above all else.
What do you think? I am reminded of this quote by Hugh MacKay:
I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.
—Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life
I don’t know about you, but my darkest days taught me more than all my happiest days combines. And while I am tempted to say I am happy right now in life, perhaps I should really say I am feeling whole right now.
I’m curious, what is your take on this topic?
P.s. Photo from here