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Is the grass truly greener on the other side and can we travel first class to get there?

Are you blissfully happy with your life? If you are sitting there nodding your head in agreeance, I ask you, what is it about your life that has you grinning from ear to ear?

Do the glorious shiny fruits of your labour surround you? Or do you smile because your heart is filled with the simple joys of life?

Hedonism vs. happiness.

The lively debate last on the first day of teh Byron Bay Writers’ Festival was covered by social commentator and comedian Catherine Deveny, writer/performer Tom Doig and freelance author and former television journalist Sarah Turnbull.

Western media is obsessed with our ongoing pursuit of the finer things in life, the best barista, the best restaurant and the best wine to accompany your gourmet meal.

But is this instant gratification sustainable? And is this happiness or contentment or hedonism?

As George Bennett Shaw aptly said, “A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bare it; it would be hell on earth.”

Happiness has become much more than just a mental or emotional state of being. It has evolved into its very own industry, producing happiness experts and workshops designed to equip you with the skills needed to obtain ultimate happiness, whatever that may be.

Yet there is always this underlying notion that the grass is always greener on the other side. People yearn for rejuvenation, and search for paradise.

“I think the problem is maybe not with paradise,” noted Sarah Turnbull. “I think the problem is that you bring your little problems with you.”

Tom Doig outlines that for someone living in the early 21st century, surrounded by the Internet and social media, you are always going to have a friend somewhere who has a more amazing life than you. And that will happen no matter how great your life is.

“One of the first world problems is the burden of choice,” Doig said. “In the sense that no matter what you are doing, there is something cooler around the corner.”

The lesson that needs to be taught to today’s young people is that not everything has to be perfect, that failure is a fact of life. The desire for perfection, for the best of the best, for the top of the line, is not necessary.

Hedonism, living life to the full no matter the cost, having the best life can offer, sex, drugs, rock and roll, living for the day, Y.O.L.O.

All of the things we consider normalcy in our current times, but what ever happened to simply being content?

For me happiness is a good book and a nice warm cup of tea, perhaps I have unlocked the true secret to a long life of happiness. I will let you know if it all works out.

And Y.O.L.O? It means ‘you only live once’, usually in the context of doing something stupid, risky and foolish.

Ashley Colhoun is a creative writing student at Southern Cross University.

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