Is Happiness the Goal?


Hi everyone,

I hope you all had a happy week! Even if you didn’t, we will talk about happiness today, so we will end it happy. Maybe.

Up until recent years, I had decided that happiness was the goal of life. We go through all ups and downs so one day we can learn how to be consistently happy. How to stay happy no matter what happens. I had this ideal in mind of people who achieve supreme humanhood (if any) that they were essentially numb towards what happens to them. They always reacted with joy in my ideal.

Then, two related changes happened. One is that I realized what I was referring to was not really happiness but more like being content with whatever we have at a given moment. If I am rich, I need to be content with it and not want more (or want more in a proper way, without being greedy). If I am poor, I need to be satisfied with whatever has been given to me. If I was able to read 10 pages today, I should be content with my performance (on the condition that I did my best in those conditions). If I read 100 pages, I should be content with it too. This should be the stable part of life, not happiness, which ties to the second point, which is that:

There is no one person that ever lived that was happy at all times. As part of our human experience, we have to be sad at times so we can understand happiness better and so we can get some benefits from sadness (for example, art often is born from sadness). We have to experience happiness too because too much sadness would kill us and we also need to benefit from happiness (for example, happiness keeps us productive and keeps life going, at least search for happiness). Given that, it is more proper to not blame ourselves for feeling bad at times. That just shows that you are a human being. That also shows that there is more to us than just happiness and we need to discover our sad side as well. That is richness.

Now, I am working on being content with life as much as possible and try to accept the fact that I can be sad sometimes. Are you also working on these? What is happiness for you? How do you utilize the sad times? What is an ideal human experience? Let me know what you all think about this topic.



161 thoughts on “Is Happiness the Goal?

  1. This is so true! I tell my family all the time that it’s interesting to think that life is mainly a neutral existence spliced with moments of happiness and sadness. Everyone assumes that we’re supposed to be happy or that happiness is what we have to strive for. I suppose that’s true in a sense but not when we’re talking about the feeling everyone knows as happiness. It’s more of a feeling of…satisfaction or contentment as you described. Sometimes it makes me question the point of it all but there’s a beautiful simplicity to it, isn’t there? To pursue happiness constantly is a lot of pressure and once you realize that the predominant emotional state is significantly more neutral – contentment – its almost a relief.

    1. Very well-said! I agree that chasing happiness is stressful because if you don’t feel one moment, you become unhappy again. I also like your description of life as a neutral existence spliced with moments of happiness and sadness. Good one!

  2. Hi I really loved your post on happiness. As a Buddhist we have a very interesting take on happiness. In fact my personal feeling is, that many people never find true happiness because they look for it externally. In external things, like for example, a bigger car, beautiful house, the latest iPhone and the most beautiful partner. These things are great, on a very temporary basis, but then a new iPhone is created, the big car starts to break down, or your neighbour gets a bigger one. Then comes other things like for example, you need a bigger house or your partner starts to get wrinkles or your body starts to sag. All these things we look for externally are impermanent. It’s only when we start to value the things we have, and to realise that happiness comes from within, we stop chasing and start enjoying life. this is my view point anyway, please keep sending posts I love the things you write about. Best wishes Tenzin

    1. This is a very good look at it! I agree that we should find happiness in things that are more permanent and in things that stay with us. Otherwise, we will always be unsatisfied after a brief satisfaction.

      1. Yes this is the Buddhist way of thinking. It’s difficult in the west where we are dominated by a vastly changing economic climate. But the awareness of impermanence is always useful. Once we realise nothing is permanent, we realise that clinging to things and jeopardising our health is quite ridiculous.

  3. Contentment is so much more achievable than constant moments of happiness. <3 Thank you for you piece.

  4. This is a moment of self realization…. I too don’t try to run after happiness but doing things in the best way I can, so that I can be contented….though I always have a doubt that how do we measure that we have given 100% or not… How do we know our greatest potential?

    1. I don’t know, honestly. But I try to understand what makes me feel the most fulfilled at that moment. I don’t know we have an overarching single goal in life or whether it changes from time to time.

  5. To me happiness is not the purpose of life, but rather than a companion of any life’s purposes.

    Whenever I set a goal to my life, the feeling of happiness motives me to achieve it.

    The happiness comes from success is like the cherry on top, in addition to the financial rewards or physical satisfaction resulted from the achievements.

    1. You make a good point. What is life’s purpose for you then?

      Financial rewards or physical satisfaction should be side benefits rather than the target. Very true.

Leave a Reply