Forget Happiness. Focus on Unhappiness.
Zat Rana

Happiness is generally sporadic, fanciful and fragile. These properties make it desirable to have but also unsustainable to keep on a regular basis, inasmuch as it naturally loses luster the longer lingers. Too much of a good thing…

Think of it as akin to what happens with wealth. Studies have found that the happiness which comes from acquiring wealth peaks at a certain point. After that point, the accumulation of additional wealth does little to enhance happiness beyond what already exists.

Similarly, when happiness is sustained long enough to become the norm, it ceases to stand out as special anymore.

Moreover, one becomes vulnerable to growing less happy over time for fear of losing the happiness already gained. If you can’t seem to grow it, then the attention — and accompanying worry — turns to possibly losing it. This can happen at the conscious or subconscious level. Either way, it typically happens.

The antidote to this erosion of happiness is to either become self-content (a hard won deep down internalized form of satisfaction; intangible but nonetheless felt), or seek the next higher level of tangible happiness — to wit: euphoria.

Euphoria is even more fleeting than happiness. Some people are able to achieve transient moments of euphoria by doing things that naturally boost their adrenaline levels, such as skydiving or cliff jumping or gambling and so forth. Other people turn to drugs, like opium or heroin. More often than not, these involve high risk behaviors that need to be repeated, oftentimes with an increase in the risk factor, to replicate what once could have been achieved by happiness alone.

All of which brings us to the irony of happiness.

Happiness in and of itself isn’t near as fulfilling as the pursuit of happiness — because this is where the fanciful nature of it beckons us to dream of how good it might be, rather than face the reality of how confounding it can actually get. This is a concession to the notion that the human mind works in mysterious ways.

In this sense, happiness is a less worthy goal than is the pursuit of happiness.

In other words, if you truly want to be happy, focus on enjoying the process — the actual journey — rather than worry about the product itself.

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