🎧 Bedtime Story Podcast #40
Happiness Is Inside
A young boy named Yeotus was walking along his road. He was a simple boy, not that he was stupid, but rather that he never complicated things. He never thought too much about what happened, he tended to be happy enough to just watch what was happening.
It was a cloudy, grey afternoon, and there was a mild chill beginning to form in the air. Yeotus was wearing his coat and jumper as his mother had advised, and so he barely noticed the chill.
He saw a group of men at the far end of the road, and they were all beginning to make a great deal of noise. They were shouting at each other, and in the air around them Yeotus could almost see the air becoming denser and heavier.
One of them knew Yeotus, it was his Uncle George, who spotted Yeotus walking down the road.
“Over here!” called George, “We need your help!”
Although Yeotus was only a young lad, George had witnessed an extraordinarily intelligent quality about the boy before. Yeotus was unusual, he seemed to be thoroughly uncluttered, rather serene, and his simplicity allowed him to see things that others could not.
Yeotus began to walk towards the group, who looked thoroughly dissatisfied at what was happening. The group had discovered a small metal box, and on it, read the words written in black ink: “Happiness Is Inside”.
This neighbourhood had never known trickery or deceit of any kind. The folk were innocent in their expectations of each other, so there was no perceived risk of what may be in the box. The men were hungry to find out what was inside. After all, who would not want to find happiness so easily?
“Look what we have found!” said George to his nephew. Yeotus read what the box said, and looked rather unimpressed.
“Well…don’t you want to help us get inside it?” asked George, slightly annoyed that his nephew did not seem as desperate as he did to find out how to really be happy.
“Well, why?” questioned Yeotus.
Another one of the men scoffed at the child. Obviously this young boy did not understand the nature of happiness.
“Because…” said George, “we feel like we could be happier than we are…but we aren’t, and now maybe we can get it in this box.”
These five men had different lives, but were very close friends. Yeotus knew all but one of them. Uncle George was a very well-paid bank manager, who had a wife and three rather charming children. He was pleased with his life, but he knew there was something missing. The scoffing man, Kenwell, had no family, and was the local electrician. He was so well trusted that he could earn his living taking care of and maintaining the whole town’s electrical systems. He was very highly regarded, but felt that the burden of the town was beginning to weigh him down. The third man had no job and no family. He was a gambler, and had won so much money that he never needed to work again. He knew he could be extremely happy, since when he won his fortune he had felt ecstatic. He was thinking of gambling again so that he could regain that same thrill he once had. The fourth was also a gambler, but the big win he was waiting for had not yet come. The fifth man was a stranger to Yeotus, he knew nothing of him, other than he did not look at ease. He was taller than the others, and had a face that looked yearningly at the seeming box of happiness.
All five men, George had explained, had been trying to get this box open for hours, and they were close to giving up. They had tried burning it, breaking it, smashing it with hammers and bats. They had even tried drilling through it. Nothing had worked.
Yeotus looked at the box after being handed it by George, and inspected it in his small gloved hands. It had no opening to speak of. It was just a solid metal box, with no lid. He shook the box and could hear nothing inside it.
“I don’t know,” said Yeotus, handing the box back. He never minded not knowing something, which would strangely annoy some people. “Although, have you ever wondered why you don’t feel happy, or satisfied?” Yeotus asked.
“Well of course,” the first four men said in unison. Then they began to explain, all at once. Yeotus could not hear clearly, but could hear fragments of sentences, such as “too much to do”, “not enough to do”, “too much to achieve”, “nothing left to achieve”, “too much to think about”, “not enough to think about”. There were a lot of “too much’s” or “not enough’s”. Yeotus could not really understand what they were talking about.
The fifth man, the stranger to Yeotus, had not said anything until the collective noise had died down. He had gone through his many reasons in his head, without saying them out loud. He felt as if rather than all of his reasons creating his feelings of daily unhappiness and dissatisfaction, it was more as if these feelings were creating his reasons. And so he said, finally, “I don’t know. I just feel unhappy. I don’t know why. I try to be happy but I always end up feeling low or heavy inside…”
“Maybe you are just a miserable old sod,” said one of the men, miserably, to the amusement of the three other miserable men. For a moment they were not so concerned about themselves, and they felt slightly better.
The others had overlooked the fifth man’s recent statement, but Yeotus had not.
“So it doesn’t seem to have a reason to be there? That’s interesting,” said Yeotus, neutrally. “So if it doesn’t have a reason to be there, then why is it there?”
“I told you I don’t know…” as the man finished his response, he realised what he was saying. His unhappiness had no reason for being. He always thought it was there for a reason, but now it seemed to be uncaused. He felt lighter.
“Perhaps you don’t have to try to be happy,” said Yeotus, “perhaps it is an effort to be unhappy, but you never realised it.”
The man smiled. He had always thought, like everyone else around him, that being somehow miserable or unsatisfied was easy, natural, and that happiness was the challenge. But it was now looking to be the other way round – he realised how much effort it was to remain miserable all the time. A feeling of joy seemed to be there when he could see how the unhappiness required his energy, and that it was not there for any real reason.
He looked down at the box, now on the floor, and re-read the words “Happiness Is Inside”. He laughed and laughed, and so did Yeotus.
The other four men, after observing all of this, decided to throw the box off the roof of a nearby apartment block to see if that would work instead.
Story written and read in English by Adam Oakley, Copyright © Adam Oakley