Originally Posted by Brisieis
The theory is that we cannot gain happiness by seeking it, rather it happens as a by product of something else.
It seems that to sometimes open yourself up to random events and allow yourself not to focus too deeply on specific elements of your life, you may be happier. Focus on happiness as a goal and you may never reach it.
"Pleasure is, and must remain, a side-effect or by-product, and is destroyed and spoiled to the degree to which it is made a goal in itself.." - Viktor Frankl
I'm afraid I can't go along with this theory at all. Yes, sometimes you find happiness where you least expect it. But you do get to know what you like and what you don't like and where you're more likely to find happiness.
I personally can't see any reason not to make happiness a goal. Often enough there are things you must do that you know aren't going to make you happy, but this leads to my next point.
Originally Posted by Dreamhunter
Now I recall a quote, which said, "Happiness does not come from having what you want, but from wanting what you have."
The guy who's happy in his old beat up car is happy because he's satisfied with it. He wants it. He's like, "It's mine. Of course I like it."
Which is that I can see some sense in this. I think one big problem we have with happiness is that we often have unrealistic expectations. We may possibly have an inalienable right to pursue happiness, but that's not the same thing as having an inalienable right to actually be happy. I think a lot of westerners are somewhat spoiled: we expect to find happiness at every turn of the road, and when we don't find it, we feel like we're being cheated. The result is that we're unhappier than we would be otherwise.
You have to accept that often life isn't going to be happy. When you do that you appreciate the happiness that you do have. When you learn to be content with what's good enough, you'll be happier.
There's also a law of diminishing returns. If you have no car at all, getting any sort of car might make you really happy. But if you have a fairly nice car, getting an even nicer one won't necessarily make you as happy as you would be in the first situation. Being content with what's good enough is an important principle in happiness, I think.