Why We Are Always Unhappy

The nature of happiness is such that if you aim for it 10 times out of 10, you might get it twice. Or not at all.

There is a paragraph in the book A Cynic Guide To Wisdom & Contentment that goes like this: 
"Whether you do “good” or “evil” is important... however, what is more important is whether you continue to do whatever you are doing, even when the consequence of your action differs from your expected outcome."
Humans instinctively seek situations that give happy returns, while they tend to avoid uncomfortable events. Some of us believe we'll be happy if we just follow our dreams or get our dream house. While some of us are convinced our happiness is linked with listening to and obeying people we respect, even God. There are few people somewhere who even think that fulfilling spiritual disciplines like praying, giving to the poor, meditation, reading the Scriptures, etc., will make them the happiest people on earth.

The problem is, when these actions do not have the effect we want, we slide further into unhappiness. Worse still, if we are unable to commit to or obey these rules we have set for ourselves (or somebody set for us), we become depressed and almost inconsolable.

The instinct of trying to do what makes us happy has always gotten humans into trouble since the dawn of time. Martin Theilen, the author of Searching for Happiness, made an astute disclaimer in his book's preface. He writes: "...it's important to clarify that happiness is not the ultimate goal of Christianity. It does not rate up there with... justice, the Great Commandment, or the advancement of the kingdom of God."

Happiness is a product of doing things. However, the irony here is that if we focus on the things that are supposed to make us happy, there are no guarantees they will bring happiness. The nature of happiness is such that if you aim for it 10 times out of 10, you might get it twice. Or not at all.

What about if we start by not giving a care for our own happiness. It sounds counter-intuitive, but the few happy people I have seen seem not to care not for tomorrow or for the worries that keeps normal people like me awake at night. If disaster strikes, they are fine because they know it won't last. If good fortune comes, it makes no difference since they know that never lasts either. They seem to fully grasp the concept that circumstance is a poor purveyor of happiness.They also understand how fragile and short human life is.

Like Tim Keller said in one of his sermons titled The Search For Happiness,The person who is happy is always the one who has stopped trying so hard to be happy.”

Photo used is "Contemplando" by Agustín Ruiz and made available under a CC BY 4.0 license.


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