The Empty Pursuit of Happiness

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by earllogjam, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. earllogjam

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    5,027
    Likes Received:
    21
    I am beginning to believe that this is not a sustainable state.

    Is something wrong with me because I am not happy 24/7? My life is surely not worth living because I am not happy all the time. I must be doing something wrong. Happiness is the goal, journey and sole importance of our being. If I’m not happy ALL the time I should get therapy or get some pills, like all the other happy people out there. I must have some chemical imbalance because anything other than happiness is not normal. That is what life is all about. That is what makes it worth living - personal happiness. There is something fundamentally wrong with me if I am not happy all the time. This is what we have been led to believe.

    I am beginning to feel that this is once again some more bullshit that we have bought into hook line and sinker.

    Of the 3 decades I have been looking for this it has been elusive and fleeting. It has never lasted more than a few months or days at a time. Now, I am not suicidal or chronically depressed but I must say that I do get the blues once in a while but most days I am just content -not happy, not sad, but content. But somehow I feel that this is not enough, that the grass is greener over the hill that I need to feel happy all the time to feel truly alive, for life to be worthwhile. The more I have actively tried to obtain it the further I got from it. It came when it came and it went when it went so in that sense I think it may be an empty pursuit. I think we can try to increase our chances of being happy through our actions and deeds and it is a very nice feeling but I question of validity of happiness as being the sole measure of your life. Don’t you need know sadness to know happiness? Does it make sense to be happy all the time? Does it make sense to feel that we have to be happy all the time?

    We of the “me” generation, in this American “pursuit to be happy culture” have been led to believe that happiness is the only truly important thing in anyone’s life. But looking at history and other cultures it is far from being true. My Finnish friend said that they feel the American pursuit of happiness often comes up empty and forced like a fake smile or nicety and that we put happiness on a very high pedestal. Sure they value happiness but what they value more is stability and security. Happiness is not a measure of your state of success in their society. Safety, security and surviving the harsh winters have molded their national character to value different things besides happiness. Happiness never gathered wood or fought off bears. It never made you want to improve anything either. People who smile too much are perceived as being mentally unbalanced, idiots; and going after only your personal happiness often is perceived as a selfish endeavor not great in group survival cultures such as theirs. I don’t know if this is just his take on Finnish society but it struck me that this universal pursuit of happiness is not universal and it is far from being a natural state of being for most people. It is something that we have invented as a goal for ourselves, and making ourselves miserable.

    He asked me why I thought it was necessary to be happy 24/7 and then asked me if I was an idiot.
     
  2. TBoneSteak

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2007
    Messages:
    562
    Albums:
    4
    Likes Received:
    119
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Bay Area
    Verified:
    Photo
    Doesn't sound like much of a friend to me!

    Buy some land, Buy some land! Fuck spinnin' rims!
     
  3. viking1

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Messages:
    4,706
    Likes Received:
    5
    I agree with you. One of the more sensible things I have read on here.

    I would certainly settle for content. Few days am I happy. Not many am I content. Many I am unhappy. Quite a few I am downright sad. Oh well, I say "thats life"...not a damn thing I can do about. Nobody said life had to be pleasant. They just said I had to go through the motions.
     
  4. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2005
    Messages:
    2,739
    Likes Received:
    0
    Happiness, as used in the Declaration of Independence, is a "term of art". It doesn't mean that the zenith of life is to go around with a fool smile on your mug all the time. It means that you are not solely a worker ant, to be used up by the state. You are free to make decisions which may result in benefits to you, and those benefits are not subject to approval by your overlords.
     
  5. SpoiledPrincess

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,167
    Likes Received:
    29
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    england
    I think most people would count themselves lucky to be content most of the time, happiness is the state we attain to but it's only a temporary state, little islands of brightness in our lives, if we were happy all the time how would we know it without the worse times to highlight it. This is really the first generation where the majority of the people who are adults now (I'm talking europe and american mainly not third world countries) didn't really have to struggle when they were kids. When my dad spoke about his childhood he was often hungry, often had holes in his shoes, thought it fairly normal to be beaten with a belt, when I was a kid I never went hungry although there were a few things I was denied, I was slapped three times in my life, my kids had everything they wanted and while parents of my generation thought we were doing the right thing for our kids it turns out it doesn't make them any happier, they grow up thinking everything should be tossed in their laps, including happiness. Not so long ago life was a struggle from dawn to dusk and normal people had to fight to merely feed themselves, now we have too much leisure time and we choose to fill it with worrying about why we aren't happy instead of just being glad we're not constantly struggling.
     
  6. ManlyBanisters

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2007
    Messages:
    12,807
    Likes Received:
    8
    Yup - it's all about expectations. If you expect hapiness you will be disapointed when you, invariably, do not achieve it. If you expect less whatever you have feels better. Finns are among the most stoic of people I have ever met. Listen to your Finnish friend - he's just happy he's not having to fight the fucking Russians in the snow like Daddy and Granddaddy and so on. He has the right attitude.
     
  7. invisibleman

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Messages:
    9,976
    Likes Received:
    39
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Well, the best thing I know to do. Ask yourself why do you feel unhappy? Find out what would make you happy. Maybe you are in a emotional hydraulic that causes you to feel unhappy all the time. In Taoism, life is about balance. You will have to counterbalance.
     
  8. 36DD

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,790
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    U.S.
    Happiness is not something one can have as a constant factor in life...when we are happy, it really is short-lived. I think it is important to learn to be content...it is a frame of mind. Happiness, IMO is not the goal of life...it is love. I know if I were to die right now that I have been loved and have loved...and that has not always been happy...I've lost people I've loved but I am happy I got the chance to know and love them. My life would be so empty had I not had the experience of knowing them or loving them and even with the deep pain I have from losing them, I feel so blessed...even in my tears I am happy I loved them. I think we need to learn to be content and fulfilled because that has a presence in our lives...happiness is just an emotion.
     
  9. charlypan47

    charlypan47 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2007
    Messages:
    69
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Panama
    Hi, try first to be happy with yourself, try to find your true happiness in your soul, then, when you feel fine, then the outside world, dont matter how you look it, always pay attention to your own soul, and live in the way you always want it to......:biggrin1:


     
  10. catman

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2004
    Messages:
    2,607
    Likes Received:
    47
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ga
    WHO told you have to be "happy" 24/7? (whoever they are, are they? betcha they aren't..).

    Define happy-ness for yourself? Might it be contentment? peace? or is "happy" having an orgasm (as an example) wound't life be boring that way? the bad makes you appreciate the good, and vice versa.

    You have to be "happy" with you, first. Do things that make you "happy".

    Try smiling whey you are 'out and about'.... some will wonder what you are up to...some will worry what you are up to...and some- for no other reason- will smile back, and maybe, just maybe... pass it along to someone who isn't...

    diabolical huh?

    (that or try yawning in a group :) )
     
  11. SpeedoGuy

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    Messages:
    4,229
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    10
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Earl:

    Have you read The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living?

    Its a fairly easy read. Given the state of mind you appear to be in, I strongly recommend it because I think it will give you some perspective about life and happiness.
     
  12. earllogjam

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    5,027
    Likes Received:
    21
    Viking, have you ever felt that it is OK to be sad and you should just feel sad and be OK with it untill you get it out of your system? Kind of just burn it all up completely.

    It sure does get boring after a while for me. It does get me sympathy sometimes but it is short lived. I have found that the best part of me dies when I am sad. :cool:

    I'm glad I have a kindered spirit here. I have come to the same conclusions. :smile:

    Yeah, I wouldn't call him the life of the party by any stretch of the imagination. He does have a very dry sense of humor that is infectious however.

    I have thought the same thing about happiness; that it is temporary and we need to experience saddness to value true happiness. I have parents much like yours who have a very different view of happiness than most of the "me" generation. I wonder if there is a cultural difference in the importance of happiness among Europeans and Americans because of our cultural histories are so different.
     
  13. Ethyl

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Messages:
    5,476
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    495
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Philadelphia (PA, US)
     
  14. earllogjam

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    5,027
    Likes Received:
    21
    I am actually quite content with my life. I hope I am not coming across as a suicidal basketcase. I just think that there is something wrong with the commonplace American notion that if you aren't happy then something is wrong with you. I think what makes happiness special is that it comes in spurts, and that is is not methodically planned or contrived. One can't eat chocolate fudge sundays every day of the week. I am familiar with the Buddhist precepts on happiness although I have not read this book. Did it help you?

    I don't think that happiness is a state of mind. I think that the mind/body dicotomy we have intellectually set up is a fallacy. I feel happy after a massage, doing some stretching or a good basketball game and it has nothing to do with my mind.
     
  15. earllogjam

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    5,027
    Likes Received:
    21
     
  16. psidom

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,861
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2
    there is just TOO much beauty to be sad.
    if i had a 3 inch dick and a hairlip and was jobless i would still find happiness.

    i think it is all to due with your truest willpower and where it's source is.
    i am going to use myself as an example...i am more than content with my perspective.
    mine is MUSIC. i play guitar and piano for 10 yrs,this made my hands agile
    and my selection of friends and girlfriends interesting.
    we experimented with religions,questioned authority,did drugs and had sex seeeking a highest creative output...leading me into sex magick and occultism.

    my hands were strong so i gave good massages.
    i went to school for massage therapy...my inner self was drawn to it.
    i was going to be a recording engineer but something in me said "MASSAGE"
    massage is very rythm based like music.
    i love massage as much as i love music.
    i also found alot of my fellow workers were occultists as well.
    also practicing tantra and sex magick and artists as well.
    using massage therapy as a means of expression.
    it makes us genuinely happy.

    i think if you know what you love it will give you a gradient
    of sources to express your love for it....creating success and happiness.
    just a theory and my humble opinion.
     
  17. Ethyl

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Messages:
    5,476
    Albums:
    2
    Likes Received:
    495
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    Philadelphia (PA, US)
    Meaning and purpose shouldn't be limited one's profession or talent when it can be found in a number of ways. People mistake purpose for self-actualisation, which is something else entirely.
     
  18. rawbone8

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2004
    Messages:
    2,864
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    4
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Toronto (ON, CA)
    Happiness is one of many significant notches on the barometer.
     
  19. psidom

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,861
    Albums:
    3
    Likes Received:
    2
    my point wasn't that "happiness lies in your career or talent"
    my point was happiness is in discovering your true will and living it out.
    it just happens that your career is usually a part of that.
    some are fishermen some are hunters some weave some sell their bodies.
    it is identity...without a sense of identity you are a lost soul imho.
     
  20. earllogjam

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2006
    Messages:
    5,027
    Likes Received:
    21
    Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

    What is self-actualization? Sorry not very keyed into this stuff.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted