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To pose the question of whether we can love happiness in today’s world feels a bit like asking whether the Pope is Catholic. Most of us believe we not only can love happiness, but that we should!
Unfortunately, it is this very love of happiness that is leading many of us to experience more sadness.
Why, I hear you ask? Well let me start with an example.
Imagine you have a goal and it is to become smarter. You decide to enrol in an science degree and major in astrophysics (being an astrophysicist is clearly going to make you smarter), you spend every spare minute playing Sudoku and purchase the latest “get smart quick” brainpower gimmick. (Post continues after gallery.)
Over time you notice that indeed you are becoming smarter. You are winning more often at Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit and can amaze your friends with complex theories of black holes and dark energy.
Yet, you would still like to be smarter. You feel slightly disappointed that you are not as smart as you thought you might be. This feeling of disappointment motivates you to learn more and try harder until eventually you reach your goal.
Now imagine that your goal is to be happy. You buy the latest books on how to be happy, repeat positive sentiments to yourself in the mirror each morning and spend at least ten minutes a day holding a pencil between your teeth (it’s true, it actually does work!).
Upon reflection, however, you are not as happy as you would like to be. Now, the feeling of disappointment, rather than motivating you to try hard, tends to make you feel less happy. As a result, you are now further removed from your desired state of happiness.