Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin - Is the quest for happiness overrated?

Last night, I was describing to a group of friends why Rubin wrote this book. I began with the quote that I cited in my earlier post, where Rubin has an existential crisis while riding on a bus. One of my friends commented that life, is indeed, just that. That is basically all there is to life, so accept it and move on. I, myself , wonder sometimes if happiness is not overrated. I've seen people spend a fortune on interior decorating, buy designer pets whose lives they have then made miserable, or leave a spouse all in the quest for happiness. People might actually be happier if they accepted the need for unhappiness. Was the quest for happiness a source of unhappiness? Do we need the dark to appreciate the light?

With this in mind, I decided to look for any comments that Carl Jung had made about happiness. I found this:
"So they speak soothingly about progress and the greatest possible happiness, forgetting that happiness is itself poisoned if the measure of suffering has not been fulfilled."

With some further searching, I found that Rubin had done a post on Jung's Five Basic Factor's for Happinees:

I plan on discussing one of these factors tomorrow when I discuss Rubin's attempts to see if money can buy happiness
. As of now, I'm wondering whether happiness is overrated and must you be miserable to realize when you are happy? Please comment.


Tony R. said...

I'm reminded of an Abraham Lincoln quote (see that "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Is a quest for happiness really warranted, or does it inevitably result in coming full circle to where you started and realizing that the whole answer lied within? This theme has been done to death in literature and film (see Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz???) I do think that having a positive outlook on life is integral to mental and physical well being. I just don't know how much of a quest it needs to really be.

Tracey said...

I'm wondering if the quest for happiness is a cultural issue. I go into this a little in my next post on money.

Anonymous said...

I think the old saying is true about how you don't appreciate something until it is gone. I think it applies to happiness as well. We don't appreciate the feeling of contentment and joy until we have experienced the lack thereof. I have been in lousy relationship situations and job situations in which I looked back in envy of happier times and wondered why I was so negative about them. Now in my current situations I feel I have a better perspective on the things that are truly important to my happiness - and try to let the other things slide off my back. I appreciate what I have more now, and so I think I am happier now than in the past.