19 March 2012

The Limits of Happiness

We like to think that happiness is a goal compatible with every other. While I think that it is as worthwhile a measure of life as any, I think it can also be misleading. There are times when the effort to accomplish something brings frustration, not happiness.

So here is the question.

First imagine that life is simply lived on some scale.

If your life is a 1, you are happy. Delighted. BUT, you accomplish nothing. You achieve nothing, make no contribution to anyone else or to society as  whole. Your whole life is self-contained.

If your life is a 10, your life is defined by achievement. You contribute to people around you and to society as a whole. Because of you, life is permanently better for others. Yet you experience no happiness yourself. Your life is full of frustration.

On that scale where do you choose to live?

Fascinating piece on happiness by Carol Graham here.

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