Over a couple of recent posts we looked at happiness based on the premise that — whether consciously or not — it is a person’s main motivation. However, it can only be attained by acting in accordance with one’s values.
We then defined happiness as being the mental feeling of well-being. We also saw that happiness is different for different people, as what brings happiness to one does not necessarily hold that same (or any) value for another.
The final question then, was:
3. If one’s main motivation is happiness, then why do so many otherwise-intelligent people seem to make decisions that are obviously contrary to their happiness?
This one’s the biggie. If human beings were logic-based creatures, it would not even be an issue. We’d base everything we do on what would bring us happiness; that mental feeling of well-being. But we know many people who don’t. And, maybe we don’t; at least not always.
I believe that while the definition of happiness we’ve been using is correct, it’s also not quite complete. As human beings, everything we do ultimately coincides with our beliefs; our subjective “truths” about life. I devoted an entire chapter to this in Adversaries into Allies where we discuss Belief Systems.
That unconscious operating system that drives our thoughts and decisions tells us what we believe the truth about life is, and — along with that — what we believe we deserve. And, unless we are living in accordance with those beliefs, we won’t be comfortable and will not experience that sense of mental well-being.
The paradox is that, if you don’t truly believe you should be happy, then you “cannot be happy being happy.” You might only be happy (the sense of mental well-being) when you’re miserable.
This is sad. It’s so very sad. It is the cause of people going from one bad relationship to another, it’s the cause of people keeping themselves struggling financially, and it’s the cause of many more counter-productive acts.*
So, before anything else, we must truly believe that happiness is one of life’s truths, and we must truly believe we deserve to be happy. Only then, can we be happy being happy.
Of course, I’d love to know your thoughts.
*The best book I’ve ever read on this subject and how to overcome it is Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.