7 Happiness Theories I Reject.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day, or List Day.

As audacious as it may seem to contradict venerable figures such as John Stuart Mill, Flaubert, or Sartre, I disagree with some of their views about the nature of happiness.

Flaubert: “To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.” I argue that this is Happiness Myth No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid.

Vauvenargues: “There are men who are happy without knowing it.” Heartily disagree. My Fourth Splendid Truth is “I’m not happy unless I think I’m happy.” Or as Eugene Delacroix wrote, “He was like a man owning a piece of ground in which, unknown to himself, a treasure lay buried. You would not call such a man rich, neither would I call happy the man who is so without realizing it.”

Eric Hoffer: “The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.”

Sartre: “Hell is other people.” [Actually, hell is other people, but heaven is other people, too.]

Willa Cather: “One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them…

Alexander Smith: “We are never happy; we can only remember that we were so once.” My Eighth Splendid Truth is “Now is now“; it means many things, but among other things, it reminds to remember the happiness that is here and now.

John Stuart Mill: “Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so.” [I reject this statement, but I would agree “Ask yourself whether you are happy on a scale from 1 to 5, and you cease to be so.” For me, at least, trying to make those kinds of tricky judgments diminishes happiness—I find it very difficult to answer a question like that—while the simple question, “Am I happy?” contributes to happiness.]

How about you? Do you agree or disagree with these theories?

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  • Laura_badger

    I don’t agree with Eric Hoffer, that “the search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” I would like to change it to; “the places you make look for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.” Sometimes you can reach a paradox when you are not financially sound or have a broken relationship. I think searching for happiness is vital and it usually begins with facing that person looking back at you in the mirror! Nobody gives it to you, but happiness in the middle of trouble takes some work. I feel it’s an “inside job, because you are responsible for finding meaning and value in your life.  Well worth it!

  • Christoinferno

    Sartre was depressive. 

    Human beings has always been social, even when we were lower-level primates and not “human” as we are now. We evolved in a pack/clan/societal context. We didn’t become human and then decide to form societies.Saying “Hell is other people” is about the same as saying “Inhaling and exhaling is boring.” Sure, I suppose if you focus on the repetitive nature of it, you can see it as boring. And if you focus on only those people or those human qualities that are offensive, you can see the company of others as awful. But in either case, good luck living with the alternative.

    Almost every good thing in life happens with other people. Love, friendship, altruism, laughter, empathy… I’m trying to picture someone who lives contentedly without those things. All I can come up with is “sociopath.”

    • Lemsip

      It’s why I didn’t bother to read his books or those of Camus, Nietsche and Debord.

      Though it is people with Aspergers Syndrome who lives contentedly without other people. Sociopaths leach off other people and steal their energy. They do not have enough inner resources to live alone and gain pleasure by hurting people.

  • B & M

    One certainly may plan, prepare and work for happiness, but that isnt the real difficult part. To me, the harder part is the ability to let go, to let go of the need to control. There are too many variabilities in the real life and obviously we can not really be in control. Just realizing this fact is already a step toward happiness. Then one can still work for happiness, but not to make it happen, but to abide in it. Spontaneity, the sense of oneself being free and playful-probably the deepest happiness one can experience, cant be granted if one is trying to still be in control. So for me, happy without knowing it, or being stupid does make sense. It’s paradoxical. You work for it but at the same time you have to let go of yourself.

  • Mommy20132013

    It’s all in how you look at it.

  • Ive Chang

    One of my personal sayings is “hell in a hand basket”, it refers to carrying sources of unhappiness with us instead of setting them down & calling it done. I just found your YouTube channel while clearing stuff and motivating, lucky me! Thank you.

  • Carlos Ante

    What makes me happy doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
    What makes me happy today may not be what will make me happy tomorrow. One
    thing I am sure what happiness is not. This is when happiness is taken from
    somebody’s happiness (stealing, cheating, credit grabbing, adultery and you
    name it). And those who are guilty of stealing somebody’s happiness is not really happy. They find satisfaction – maybe.

    We cannot put emotion in a limited or definitive context.
    We can only define some elements of happiness such as health, family, friends,
    career, pets, nature, and financial stability and among others. Happiness
    varies from one person to another person. Every available theory of happiness
    in the world is somehow applicable to a particular person, thus making it a
    fact. I think it is JOY and not happiness should be discussed profoundly. Happiness
    is superficial but JOY is much deeper, more than a synonym of happiness. We can
    find JOY amidst sorrow, amidst trouble and amidst unpleasant feelings. Can a
    person be happy should his relative died? But one can find JOY over it. To give
    an example, just think of mercy killings. People do this not because they are
    happy doing it but because they find JOY in relieving someone from a prolong
    agony and suffering. Joy is more meaningful than happiness.

    Let me put it this way, “all form of JOY is happiness but not all form happiness is JOY”.