[Vol. 78] YOLO: A New Pursuit of Happiness?

기사승인 2017.11.29  


YOLO! This motto has become the battle cry among people living in the modern world they perceive as a war zone in which they are bombarded with endless duties. People desperately seeking oasis seem to have taken a new perspective on what can make them “happy.” YOLO, which is an acronym that stands for “You Only Live Once, has somehow been given the authority to let people indulge and live a life of privilege and excess free from any type of guilt supported by the rationale that one must seize the day. Is there happiness waiting for you at the end of the YOLO rainbow? The way I see it, instead of a box full of gold, you’ll find a box of ”regrets“ if you follow the path led by the YOLO philosophy in your pursuit of happiness.

When the Roman poet, Horace, said “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero“ which can be translated as, ”Seize the day, putting as little trust in tomorrow“, he didn’t mean enjoy today and throw away tomorrow. Quite the opposite, he was emphasizing the need for doing the best we can today for a better tomorrow. It also means that you need to realize that everything is not going to work itself out for you later in the future if you do nothing to improve it. I think the Latin poet would be extremely displeased and utterly shocked if he finds out that his phrase is being used as a rationale that justifies a life full of greed, selfishness and gluttony.

There seems to be two types of encouragements the YOLO motto provides. The first one can be summarized in the following expression: “Why bother?” People who need a legitimate excuse to avoid doing anything productive use the YOLO motto to justify their procrastination or unwillingness to make any changes to the current situation. “Why go on a diet and exercise? We’re all going to die one day anyway. Eat what you want, lie around the house all day and watch your favorite T.V. programs. You Only Live Once!!” Sure, we have these dark voices in our heads constantly sabotaging us to just do what we want to do, satisfy your immediate pleasures and simply do what feels best every minute of your life. But, can accumulations of “immediate pleasures” truly satisfy us in the long run?

The second type is dropping everything and simply following your dream. Why save the penny for later? Get on that plane and go to your dream destination because tomorrow may never come. This way of prioritizing our immediate pleasure over any type of responsibilities has also been legitimatized as an acceptable way to search for happiness. But, will your life be extra meaningful if you spend all of your money to go on a trip or to buy the bag of your dreams? The truth is, we need to live for tomorrow to make the next “today” better. In order to do so, we need to find the golden mean: the balance between living for tomorrow with living for today. And the twist is, it is human nature to feel good when we actually “do” something good. That means, we actually enjoy today more when we work for the future. That is why you feel awkward even though you did everything you thought would give you pleasure if all those things were simple indulgences to quench your thirst for the moment.

Yes, we only live once. And because we only live once, don’t you want to live a life that is worthwhile? Then, why not do something to make yourself better each day or search for ways to make another person happy, or finding something new you can be grateful about each day? The pursuit of happiness is meaningful when that happiness creates more happiness.

We are nearing the end of 2017. How did you pursue your happiness during the year? Did you find happiness and did that happiness open more doors to new types of happiness? What are your plans to seize each day in the upcoming year to make a better tomorrow?


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