Happiness has become the core question of your life. But the preoccupation with happiness may actually be making you less happy.
The obsession with happiness may lead you to discount both the presence and the value of the challenging and painful events that are inevitable in your life.
And not to mention making you feel completely inadequate when you fall short of an ideal happiness.
Happiness is really the last great organizing principle of life. You no longer live your life according to beauty or honor or virtue. You want to live in order to be happy.
Whereas Aristotle believed that happiness was the by-product of a life of virtue, we have come to associate happiness with a more vague metric of feeling good.
Rather than thinking of living virtuously, you have come to associate happiness more with the avoidance of pain and pursuit of pleasure, with personal gratification or sensory pleasures.
One risk inherent in your obsession with the pursuit of happiness is that you will begin to fear or devalue painful, negative emotions and challenging experiences.
In the pursuit of pleasure and joy, you tend to fall into the trap of running on the hedonic treadmill – chasing after pleasures and external recognition that you believe will bring happiness, rather than finding more pleasure in the experiences you are already having.
In a consumer culture, it is easy to see how an obsession with happiness can amplify a hedonic treadmill scenario, in which one is constantly looking outside the self for the next quick fix to boost happiness.
Is travel the key to your happiness? Once holiday-makers get back from their trip, they are no happier than those who stayed home.