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24.09.2017.

The Purpose of Life Isn’t to Be Happy

The term “happy” was traditionally synonymous with good fortune. It found its way into the English language around the 14th century, and it wasn’t something that people actively pursued. It was thought that you either stumbled onto it or you didn’t. It wasn’t until the 17th century that the word began its association with pleasure and contentment. Even the Greeks and the Romans who introduced us to Classical philosophy would have shrugged at the modern notion of happiness. To them, happiness was indeed the chief aim in life, but they had a very different definition of what the term actually meant. Rather than seeing it as an emotional state, their idea of a happy life was built on something more. It wasn’t an event. It was about a life lived in harmony with our own nature, including the acceptance of suffering and discomfort. If you ask the average person today what they want out of life, the majority will tell you that they want to be happy. If you dig deeper into what they mean, they’ll tell that they want to feel good and comfortable and be at ease. On the surface, that sounds innocent enough, but the reality is that this pursuit of happiness is actually the cause of much of our misery. The notion that pleasure and contentment are the solution to all of life’s problems, and that once you acquire these states you have everything you need, is misguided at best and dangerous at worst. There is more to life than happiness. Why Not Happiness?

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