This New Year’s, Resolve to Stop Chasing Happiness

Happiness makes for a poor goal.

It’s not particularly well-defined. What is happiness? How much happiness is enough to be happy with – to not eventually be let down by?

The steps to achieving it are not particularly well understood. Common paths attempted to achieve happiness include religiosity, conventional success, and family living.

Religiosity and piety offer no assurance of happiness. While religious people en masse tend to present as being happier than nonreligious people, there are plenty of religious people who are not particularly happy, and plenty of nonreligious people who are.The same can be said of marriage and having children. As teenagers and twenty-somethings, how many times have each of us been admonished NOT to get married? Even by people in long-lasting, apparently relatively happy marriages. If marriage, children and a career were such sure bets at lasting happiness, the Mid-Life Crisis would not be a well-known experience.

Conventional success also offers no guarantees. Those who have risen to wealth, fame, admiration, and excellence are sometimes – frequently? – disappointed when they are not met with lasting happiness at the top of the hill. Some will be disillusioned as they struggle with questions as “This is it?”, “Was it worth it?”, “What now?”, and “If all of this hasn’t brought me happiness, can anything?”. Continue reading

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