We have been talking about ‘happiness.’ Is it real or a cruel, false hope propagated by self-help authors trying to peddle their books and seminars? Possibly a bit of both, me thinks. A reader quotes Will Ross’s website to help make his case for happiness
Broadly speaking, and as Epictetus taught, there are only two types of problems: those you can do something about, and those you can’t (See Table 1). An example of a changeable situation is having an unpleasant job or career. An example of an unchangeable situation is having been jilted by a lover.
Will Ross (Shameless Happiness) was one of the smartest and best in the business, and I don’t think he would steer anyone wrong. However, I think the term “happiness” is so fraught with semantic messiness that I prefer to use other language, and use that language more precisely to describe what we are talking about. I feel more aligned with Russ Harris and others in regarding (the quest for) happiness as a kind of trap or dead-end or wild goose chase, sort of like fighting for peace, or fucking for chastity! “Happiness Trap” Russ Harris, available on Kindle for 12 bucks or so
I hope this isn’t misleading, but I see happiness is primarily a “semantics” problem. But I don’t use “semantics” here in the usual sense of something that is merely intellectual, merely playing games with words. Quite the contrary, “semantics” in the way that we think of it in REBT, has huge intellectual, emotional and behavioral consequences. In the context of how we are discussing it here, I think of happiness as a kind of wild goose chase, not unlike sitting up all night arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Not to say that it isn’t important, but I see happiness as a byproduct of living a full, rich life (whatever that means to any individual), but if we get too “hung up” on it, it can be like a mirage in the desert, something that keeps moving further away the more you chase directly after it.
Khon Kaen, Thailand
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Originally posted 2012-11-14 22:17:42.