Is happiness always the answer?

25 Apr 2016

My grandfather told me when we he was in his early 90s that he had never been asked if he was happy. He explained he was too busy living to be worried about wondering if he was happy. That was over 35 years ago, so I wonder what he would think about all the books, blogs, websites, conferences, workshops about happiness.

What is this ever increasing emphasis on happiness. There seems to be pressure to be happy, even if something tragic happens we are being told, encouraged to look for the bright side. A recent survey explained that every person surveyed when asked what they want out of life for themselves and their loved ones, answered they wanted to be happy. I was not asked and if I had been I would have answered that I want myself and my loved ones to live a peaceful life.

If people are always questioning if they are happy or not, this can lead people to think they are not trying hard enough and even to feel guilty. A few years ago my friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She said she could cope with the cancer but what really made her feel guilty and depressed was all the pressure she felt from the medical profession, well-meaning family members and friends, and the growing number of articles on the internet and books about how she should be positive and see the bright side of her illness.

I think other generations did not have so much time to focus on and examine if they were happy.

I do worry that when happiness is the only objective, people who don't achieve it in spite of reading books attending workshops and following advice from friends and internet, may end up more unhappy than before they made choices that they were told would make them happy.

Just in case people think I am becoming a grumpy old woman, I do like to be happy but all the emphasis on it lately as being the only goal makes me feel uneasy. To me being happy is a by-product of being at peace.

What do you think? Do you think there is an over emphasis on happiness or do you think happiness is the goal we should be aiming for in life?


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