What is it about the human species that makes it addicted to putting things and people into categories and boxes? We wouldn’t need to think outside the box if we never created the box in the first place!
Maybe it’s a vestigial habit inherited from our evolutionary past. It is beneficial for a tribe or a group to assign roles to each other, specialization carved a path that ultimately lead to civilization. Categorizing has taken many forms: from the rigid caste system of the Hindus and the British class system, to the racial monikers, astrology is also a great and stupid way to put types into boxes, religiosity (like Dawkins’ seven-point scale) and of course politics, you’re Right I’m Left, etc.
But even our holistic, multifarious knack for type-setting has evaded one fascinating, if non-binding, type of categorization: boxes related to happiness. And this is something I’ve undertaken to do as a thought-experiment. A reflective tool, there is nothing binding and I would never claim so, I want to straight off fan away any whiffs of guru-isms. Recently I wrote and published my answers to the Proust Questionnaire and I recommend everyone to try it for the sake of self-assessment, and this is just another such method. Where would you place yourself on the scale of happiness?
This scale focuses on how the pursuit of happiness influences the daily lives of people, what kind of dreamers are they, do they dream big, small, maybe not at all? There is no right or wrong number on the scale to be. This is objective in its presentation, only the reader can make it subjective to his or herself. So as always, have fun with it!
The Fenech Scale of Happiness (you see, I’m having fun with it already.):
1: The Survivors
Those who are oppressed by life and living, be they women in warzones or men in dire slums, these are people who life beats down so badly that they can’t afford to care about dreams or happiness: just surviving is good enough for them. Some people have this mentality without having to be in any dire situation. People to whom life is just about getting your next meal, surviving to see another day, that is happiness enough.
2: The Mechanists
A small step above the Survivors, these are people who revel in mediocrity and see nothing inferior in it. They are happy simply being, do not have any long-term dreams or ambitions, they can be just as happy in a desert or in a palace, just don’t ask them to choose. These tend to be strong-willed people unperturbed by life’s many changes. Constancy is their greatest source of contentment.
3: The Epicureans
Epicureans are clearer about what makes them happy. For them happiness is about the simple pleasures, be it wine, friends, reading, thinking or walking. Unlike the Mechanists their simple lifestyle is a choice, and a proud one. They are also more likely to be aesthetic in their ambitions, if you ask them to choose between a desert or a palace they would probably choose a desert. They are more willful but not, in the traditional sense, ambitious.
4: The Part-time Dreamers
These are people who, like the Epicureans, spend most of their lives enjoying the simple pleasures, but they have a dream. A long-term one, an ambitious one, be it to travel the world or to perform at the O2 or climb some mountain. Yet, these dreams are there more to give them personality than motivation. They are unlikely to chase their dreams, either due to their impossibility or due to their earthly sense of rationalism. They build castles in the sky but are happy to live a very grounded life.
5: The Drifters
Now the dreams of these people come into greater focus. Their lives are a simulacrum of their dreams. Their ambitions might not be as high-in-the-sky, it might be just getting a new degree, courting a high school sweetheart, buying a particular bottle of whisky: whatever it is, they are willing to pursue these small, niggling dreams. They tend to drift a lot from dream to dream, they don’t fixate on one particular ambition, but the flavour of the month. So their pleasures aren’t exactly simple, but they’re not grandiose either.
6: The Gamblers
Those who dare. Be their dream big or small they will take chances to pursue it. They are also susceptible to wanderlust, but are extremely dedicated. These are the type of people who would spend months training to climb Everest, or become professional footballers, maybe even open their own businesses. Their outer lives are a reflection of their inner dreams. If they adore swimming you will see them swimming at the Olympics or across the English Channel. For them it’s all or nothing.
7: The Adventurers
The main difference between the Gamblers and the Adventurers is that Adventurers is that the Adventurers will not change their lives in accordance with their dreams, but rather, they amalgamate the two. They live a dream-like existence, the type of people who will abandon their jobs, their homes, even their family, to go backpacking around the world, go boxing, deep-sea diving, hang-gliding, drinking and gambling… these people have no home but the next day.