Unhappy? That Makes Sense.

This following is some unedited, flagrantly unsubstantiated arguments about the phenomenon of human happiness, and why I think that attaining long-term happiness is impossible (and no, not just because I’m a bitter instance of mediocrity).

The evolutionary purpose of happiness is the same for any “adaptive rewards” in human psychology: adrenaline makes us high, excited and focused. It’s the reward we get for chasing that prey or for fighting off that lion.

Without this sweet potion of -FUN- – our ancestors would never make it to produce their offspring, and eventually: us.

Happiness works in a similarly adaptive method: we pursue our happiness by progressing to the next step, by scoring the next point. Get that promotion, save an extra ten grand, find that girl and make her fall in love with you.

Now what? 

After we win, our joy is transient, fleeting. We detox from the chemical rock show brought on by our victory, and we’re faced with two options:
A.Be utterly miserable for having no more purpose
B. Seek out a new one.

Happiness is simply nature’s way of motivating us to get off our asses and get a few things done. This is also why we are most infrequently happy. 

When you think this or that of a triumph will make you happy, be aware that this happiness is doomed to be short lived, not because what you had achieved isn’t amazing, but because you’re not programmed by evolution to be content with what you have. Some will be able to silence this penchant better than others – but humans have evolved to desire more, to want more, to strive.

If we didn’t strive, we’d be meaningless,
but because we do strive, we are inevitably doomed to suffer misery. There is no way around that.


7 Responses to “Unhappy? That Makes Sense.”

  1. uzza Says:

    Your depressing pessimistic conclusion contradicts your option B. This post seems to rephrase the Two Noble Truths: life means we are doomed to suffer; the cause of it is our biological programming to seek fun/happiness; but you deny the third—there is a way around that, overcome our bioprogram by seeking out new purposes. The way to do it should be obvious to a karateka, who trains long and hard to overcome innate responses like Fight or Flight. When our inner nature demands undisciplined retaliation or flinching or gratification, we train ourselves to stand firm, be content in the moment, follow a more productive course of action. The first step on that path might be simply understanding that we’re better off active and productive than safe and happy.

  2. uzza Says:

    I think we’re mutually misunderstanding one another. My point was that your Option B and your conclusion are contradictory.

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