The Happiness Myth

Fascinating and thoughtful article on the obsession with happiness.

If the alternative to happiness is not, in the binary way, unhappiness; and if happiness has become so insidious, so hypnotic a single end for a good life, why have we wanted this strange narrowing of our intent? What have we lost, or forgotten, or ignored, or paid insufficient attention to, or protected ourselves from by wanting happiness? Happiness, it would seem, is the most plausible of our aims in life. But…to put it rather more obviously, what we are lacking when we are unhappy is not always happiness, any more than what an alcoholic is lacking is a drink. And proposing a right to the pursuit of happiness may seduce us, by a kind of word-magic, into thinking that happiness is just the thing.

Adam Phillips, The Guardian, “Over The Moon,” September 4, 2010