why you don't need happiness


When people get asked about their life-goals, about what they strive and search for, a common answer is happiness. It seems to be legit and desirable to make happiness a human's life natural end, but what do we actually mean by using this apparently big word? 

short-term-pleasure happiness

What do you refer to when you talk about happiness? Mostly, I guess, you think about short-time episodes of your life, moments, when you truly felt happy. And for me that's exactly what happiness is: a blink of an eye, maybe two minutes of feeling happy. Sitting in the sun licking a fucking delicious ice-cream - happy. Opening my postbox and finding a postcard of a friend I haven't seen in ages - happy. Buying a new car - happy.

Fair enough if even small things like nice weather and ice-cream can give you pleasure, that's lovely! But this diverting character of the feeling of happiness can't be the thing everybody strives for in life. Looking at it from above, it's just not satisfying to know that what you pursue are short-time pleasures. It can't be your actual life goal.

I am once again telling you to look at the big picture

Happiness is your favorite scene in a movie. It catches you like no other scene before and you're pleased every time you watch it. And yet you're probably only able to appreciate it like you do, because you've seen the rest of the film, too. Maybe the scene actually is not that extraordinarily good, but the rest of the movie is shitty and that's why you kind of like it. And maybe the movie is a symbiosis of all you can ask for and this scene is the cherry on top.

What I want to aim here at is: you can have happy moments and still you can live a completely frustrated, unfulfilled life. And this is what makes the term so empty for me - it just doesn't qualify as something one should strive for in life. Rather, it trumps something which is already amazing. And what should be targeted here, is to make this thing amazing; this thing aka your life. Aka your experiences, your relationships, your in- and outputs, your routines, your goals.

Because this is what makes you happy on a long-term base. It might be a shallower happiness than the brimming stream of endorphin flowing through your body after the bungee-jump you finally did after planning it for months. But in the end, it's a more sustainable form of happiness, of having the feeling of being contented with yourself and how you managed to built the live you're living. Feeling fulfilled with ones life as it is, in all its facets and shades. Appreciating the downs as opportunities for lessons and therefore even being better at valuing the highs. 

THIS is what I'm answering, if someone asks me about what I pursue in life. So do I want to say Happiness doesn't make you happy? Maybe.




Julia Held

I am a philosophy masterstudent, a writer and host of the podcast of "Transformatorenwerk Leipzig". I am interested in philosophy as practice - for creating one's life, for personal and emotional development and for a balanced and exciting life. My vision is to strengthen the person as a responsible subject which thinks and acts by itself while answering to the world it encounters.