Why Pursuing Happiness May Be Pretty Stupid

Sometimes we’re happy and sometimes we’re not, but it’s generally something we all want and try to achieve. But Melissa Kirk, writing for Psychology Today, suggests that the pursuit of happiness might be missing the point entirely. Here’s why.

When we pursue happiness and achieve it for a period of time, there’s a tendency to look at its departure as some sort of failure. But inevitably happiness will always disappear, whether it’s for a day or or a month or even longer. This is because happiness doesn’t equal success, just as sadness doesn’t equal failure. Kirk argues that there’s a general rhythm to life, and that without seeing times of struggle as important we’re neglecting what we can learn from them:

Without the struggle, I learn nothing and have stopped engaging with the workings of my psyche. It made me wonder if our culture’s seeming obsession with the pursuit of happiness misses the point entirely. Not that we shouldn’t seek balance, but happiness? Why is happiness so important, and is it, in fact, even sustainable? And if we were happy all of the time, how would we learn to surf the waves of our emotions, and to gracefully dance with our shadows?

The idea that we need a balance between good and bad is certainly not a new concept, but we don’t apply the importance of that balance to the events in our own lives. Rather than seeing the “bad” times as something wrong, look at them as an opportunity to grow. Make them easier to deal with, as they’ll be inevitable no matter what you do. Enjoy your happiness, but avoid making it a goal. You only have so much control over where your life takes you, so make good use of whatever cards you’re dealt.

Is Happines Even the Point? [Psychology Today]

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