The problem of happiness

The problem of happiness is that we have made it into a problem. Children are born with happiness in their being, which they systematically unlearn in learning to be happy.

There is no thing in the world that encapsulates happiness, apart from the things in the world said to make us happy. Thus ‘being happy’ is a construct that is conditional upon finding out how to be happy, which usually depends upon finding the things that make us happy – as if happiness is a thing to be found in the world.

Ironically, the quest to be happy can undermine our well-being on the premise there is something to be found that we do not have, as if it might flood into our lives to fill a vacuum – as if happiness is the experience of that it.

Unfortunately there is much sadness to behold in this quest for happiness – for those who need happiness to be defined for them will never find it on those terms.

Mike Laidler.

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