Happiness: An Irresistible Pursuit from “The Undefeated Mind”

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We actually have as little choice about wanting to become happy as the heart does about pumping blood. We’re incapable of wanting not to become happy. The pursuit of happiness isn’t merely an inalienable right with which we’re endowed or an activity we’re capable of choosing; it’s psychological law we must obey.

 


Even people who appear to want nothing to do with happiness, like those so immersed in self-hatred that their principle aim becomes self-sabotage, will say they haven’t lost their desire for happiness so much as ceased to believe they deserve it.

 

Similarly, people suffering from severe depression who seek their own destruction typically do so only to escape the pain they’re feeling, not because they no longer want to be happy.

 

 

They may no longer believe they can be happy and therefore stop behaving as if they want to be, but that’s because depression often leads to a state of learned helplessness (once convinced that happiness is no longer possible, continuing to take action toward it becomes next to impossible).

 


Just as the heart’s function continues to be the pumping of blood even when it starts to fail, our minds aim toward happiness even when they appear to stop seeking it or even wanting it.

 

 

Whether we want this to be true or even realize it is makes no difference. Like the heart, our minds are built a certain way to perform a certain function we can’t change, one that by virtue of our sentience and self-awareness we just happen to be able to perceive.

 


But if happiness is indeed our primary function, why is it so difficult to achieve?

 

 

Perhaps for at least two reasons. First, because merely desiring happiness more than anything else doesn’t itself teach us how to achieve it.

 

 

And as we’re all capable of believing things without evidence, many of our beliefs about what makes us happy will simply turn out to be wrong. How many of us, for example, consider happiness to lie in the unmitigated pursuit of pleasure?

 

 

Certainly pleasure plays an important role in contributing to happiness, but to appreciate how an existence can be overflowing with pleasure and still be miserable we only need look at people for whom certain pleasures (sex, gambling, drugs, and so on) send all other considerations spinning off into the distance and often cause the collapse of the very lives they delight.

 

 

Further, too much pleasure can be paradoxically unpleasant (a few jelly beans are delicious, but too many make us sick), something happiness, by definition, can never be.

 

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Laurie Schuler on December 11, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    👍🏻

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