When Covid-19 broke out early last year, most of us felt as though we’d lost our lives. More accurately, we didn’t actually lose our lives, but we lost our ability to enjoy life. After all, if you can’t vacation twice a year, go shopping whenever you want and wherever you want, go to the movies, restaurants, and amusement parks with the kids (or with a friend, pretending to be kids again), then what’s to enjoy in life? Worse yet, when the virus made many of us unemployed or sent us on a prolonged furlough, we lost our financial security and became reluctant to spend on luxuries even when we could.
Now that the vaccines are here and we can begin to resume these activities, it seems as though we’re not sure how to enjoy them as much as we did. Something has changed in us, we’re not sure what makes us happy anymore, and if there is real happiness altogether.
But there is real happiness, and it is within anyone’s reach. The past year has “weaned us,” if you will, from our past manners of enjoyment and prepared us for a new, and higher kind. We may still not realize it, but now that we can start enjoying those past pleasures once again, we will see that they simply aren’t as fun or as satisfying as they once were.
Even our jealousy of others seems to have changed. Of course, we’d still like to be rich, famous, and popular, but we are less willing to work hard for it. We haven’t become lazy; we’ve simply grown up, and these goals seem, well, a little immature.
These are all preparations. We may not feel it yet but a new kind of pleasure is emerging in us. It is still beneath the surface, but its impact is already affecting us. It dims the previous pleasures, which is why they don’t shine for us the way they did before. This new pleasure that is budding within us encompasses not only ourselves, but everyone around us. This is why it dims our self-centered pleasures; it is far more encompassing than anything we can currently imagine.
Our society is changing because we are changing; we are feeling increasingly connected to each other and dependent on each other, and our society is likewise becoming more connected. The pleasures that come from such connectedness stem not only from me, but from my connections to others. This is why they are so potent compared to pleasures that stem from my own little minute circle.
The new pleasures, which we will soon begin to feel, will stem from the quality of our connections with others. The more we cultivate our ties with others, the more positive relations we build, the more joy will flow back to us through the network that is already being built among us. Accordingly, the pleasure we will experience will be entirely different: It will be enjoyment from giving to others.
It will not be only we who will change. Our entire society is changing. Others will enjoy giving to us as much as we will enjoy giving to them. It will be a complete inversion of the current mindset, where each person thinks of his or her own pleasure, and nothing else interests us. Instead, nothing will interest us but the pleasures of others, but we will not be deficient in any way since others will be interested in the same toward us, and we will enjoy both giving to others and receiving from them. It will be such a different society from today’s that we cannot even imagine how satisfied and content we will feel when we establish it. Now our work is only to hurry its onset as much as we can.