Striving for happiness may actually keep us from being happy. When we desperately want to be happy, we only reinforce our desperation. When we set out to always be happy, we will likely suppress negative emotions, fail to accept them, and eventually become frustrated, depressed, and mentally fucked up.
Here on Mindcoolness, we value the freedom of doing our True Will as the highest good, as an end in itself. Happiness is just a positive side effect. We do not seek happiness as the ultimate goal. In fact, why should goals be our focus of attention anyway?
“When someone seeks,” said Siddhartha, “it can easily happen that his eyes only see the thing he is seeking and that he is incapable of finding anything, incapable of taking anything in, because he is always only thinking about what he is seeking, because he has an object, a goal, because he is possessed by this goal. Seeking means having a goal, but finding means being free, open, having no goal. Perhaps you, venerable one, are indeed a seeker, for in striving after your goal, there is much you fail to see that is right before your eyes.” (Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha)
Every goal is made up by a seeking conscious mind. Goals are ego constructs that have value only within a society that causes egos to arise. People want to see results (they tend to see nothing else), so we have to let them know about our accomplishments, and so we must achieve goals.
Yet in our true, egoless being, there are no goals. In a state of natural freedom, we have no goals. We are products of evolution, and evolution has no goal. Nature itself has no goal. So why don’t we stop thinking about goals and start thinking about our True Will?
If what we truly want is to achieve a certain goal, then sure, let’s go ahead and achieve that goal! But we want our mind to be focused on our Will more than on our goal. We want to do what is virtuous, meaningful, and what we feel compelled to do in the process of exerting our willpower, when we are our strongest, most powerful, most active self.
Our True Will is an intuitive conviction that we have to do this or that. It’s in our blood, our genes, our character. We honor the way of the Will, not the goals we achieve along the way. They are just a bonus, and happiness is a byproduct.
Practical goals like business and lifestyle objectives, to-do lists, and willpower challenges have their place because they help us to turn our almost mystical True Will into an actionable, measurable, objective plan. Our plans and ambitions prevent us from bullshitting ourselves and keep us on the right track of doing what we truly want to do, especially when impulsive desires threaten to distract us.
Yet we follow our plan not for goal achievement, but for the sake of following the plan—as a manifestation of our True Will and our power of activity. The way is the goal, even if the way is a painful struggle. Whenever the way is not the goal, we are not doing our True Will.
The prospect of happiness may well influence our unconscious cognitive processing, but saying “I do it for happiness” seems to be a cultural habit more than an adequate description of our idiosyncratic reality. As long as we do not have a full neuroscientific and developmental account of why we want to do certain things and not others, we might as well say that our daimōn is giving us divine guidance.
This may seem cynical, but I find it practical. For whenever we are profoundly convinced about what the right thing to do is, our calculating pondering over happiness becomes worthless, even obstructive, because it distracts us from our vigorous Will to take action.
So let’s quit all the superfluous reasoning and end goal setting! Let’s stay right here—in mindcoolness.
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- How to Know If You’re Truly Happy
- You Can’t Choose to Be Happy
- These Four Personal Values Promote Happiness
- Everyday Mindfulness: Awareness Over Feelings
- Why Every Life Philosophy Is A “Feel Good” Philosophy
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