The Necessary Transience of Happiness


From openDemocracy: Despite our cultural obsession with happiness and the widespread growth of the happiness industry, few of us are actually more satisfied with our lives. Perhaps this is due to the transitory nature of happiness; rather than strive for constant euphoria, we should accept our negative emotions.

“The happiness industry suggests that—if only we could adapt our environment, perhaps by finding a new job or entering a new relationship—we could achieve more happiness. Yet the evidence shows that we can’t, and evolutionary psychology reveals why. Rather than an individualistic commodity that can be achieved or accumulated like home ownership or a job promotion, happiness is evolution’s chief motivator. Designed to promote a range of behaviours associated with increased survival, the motivational purpose of happiness is revealed by its tendency to dissipate soon after the achievements it inspires. That’s why the ideal of constant euphoria marketed by the happiness industry is impossible: it flies in the face of the physiological basis of happiness itself.”

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