It’s important to consider when a goal is achievable and when it isn’t. For happiness, it’s extremely easy to achieve but maybe that seems odd for you to hear.
The reason I say it’s extremely easy is because all you have to do is watch a comedy or get tickled or watch an animal at play or eat a comfort food or play a game you enjoy and tend to win.
But that’s not the kind of happiness you’re talking about, right?
You might be more focused on getting someone to stop hurting you or getting more money or quenching the existential ennui or finding consistent love and intimacy or attaining respect from others.
But why do these attempts at happiness matter more than the ones I mentioned earlier?
Could it be because the first batch truly was the cheap and easy way to happiness and the second batch was harder, and we’re choosing to prioritize the harder stuff because they’re more difficult to get and leave a deeper impression in our lives?
I think that’s correct. But when we fail to get these things we then take for granted the easy paths to happiness. Enter: stress, then physical illness and maybe even mental illness.
What can help us to decipher the riddle is to ask, why do I want happiness? The obvious answer is because happiness feels good and because you lack it.
Instead of happiness, you have pain, suffering and bullcrap; you want to end these things.
So now we’ve come to perhaps the fulcrum of the human experience: maximize pleasure, minimize pain. Whether we know it or not, this is (largely) why we do everything we do.
Sometimes out of a sense of duty, we will do things that are painful; things we don’t want to do. Sometimes we do things that are supposed to feel good but we just weren’t in the right mindset to enjoy. But for the most part, humans maximize pleasure and minimize pain.
Here’s the problem with this: if you try to escape pain, it will persist. If you try to get pleasure, it will elude you. It gets worse.
We already know the reason we want happiness is because we lack it. So if we take action to maximize pleasure or minimize pain from the place of lack and…