Thinking Aloud: Happiness is Not A Given

I’ve been seeing a lot about happiness on the Interwebz lately. Who’s happy, who’s not happy, does so-and-so deserve to be happy, being happy, why you aren’t happy. (NPR has a summary of TED talks on happiness that was very enjoyable, too.)

It got me to thinking, though. Here’s the thing: I don’t believe we’re here to make ourselves happy. We aren’t really here to make anyone else happy, either, to be clear.

Happiness qua happiness is not the goal of our lives.

Now before I expand on this, let me be clear: You also don’t need to go through life being miserable, or sacrificing happiness for others. A right in the United States Constitution is the PURSUIT of happiness. So you can do things to make you feel happy (as long as your happiness doesn’t impinge on another’s life, liberty, and/or pursuit of happiness).

But happiness per se isn’t a right. Happiness isn’t a given.

Happiness is ephemeral. Fleeting. It’s not a state of permanent being.

There is nothing WRONG with happiness, or being happy, or the pursuit of happiness (again, within reason). I think it’s something that we all want, to be happy. I think if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing with your life, happiness (or peace, or contentment) is a natural result of that.

I’m just saying I feel there are more important things than one’s personal happiness.

The enduring lesson of my life is something my father taught me when I was a child.

We are here to love one another.

That’s it. That’s the upshot of life.

Love one another.

Really and truly, I think that’ll make you happiest. To love, and act with love, in all its variations.

Agape: Have compassion. Be nice. To everyone.
Phileos: Love of your friends.
Storge: Love of your family.
Eros: Love of your spouse or partner.

I think that the idea that we are supposed to be happy can be very dangerous. It can leave people wondering what’s wrong with them. It can lead us to try to make other people happy (by giving them stuff, or trying to protect them from being UNhappy). It can make people suffering from grief struggle to repress the process of grieving.

I think happiness as an end is the wrong path to travel. Rather, travel the path where happiness is a side effect.

I believe that would be a path with a lot of love.

What do you think? What comes first, happiness or love? Or are they so intertwined, it doesn’t matter? Where one is the other will follow?