The Argument Against Chasing Happiness

Chasing happiness works, until it no longer does. I’ve written a lot about how you should make changes to your lifestyle based on how happy the change would make you (as you envision it), but I wonder if I’ve instructed you to chase a rainbow, because once you change perspective from your current location on the way to your perceived happy end, not only does your existing happiness level change, but also the happiness you would now receive from your end goal. Chasing happiness, it turns out, is the same as trying to put a strangle hold on a T-1000 terminator, or trying to keep a beanbag chair in a fixed position. It is forever changing shape, and the harder you squeeze, the more it shifts within your grasp.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t achieve, but trying to catch an emotion and then hold that emotion in a capsule as if frozen in time is an impossible task. When you account for the adaption to your happiness level, whatever you do catch will escape from you not long after you grab it.

Let me give you a contrary indicator why chasing happiness is a poor idea: American women are obsessed with it. Everything in their life, which may include trampling on your happiness, is done so they are happy at all times. To them, happiness should be a permanent condition that never wanes. The doors of happiness should have steel locks. You want to have the same goal as these women, where surveys consistently show they are less happy than a generation ago? I’m starting to believe the mere goal of chasing happiness is a guarantee of unhappiness, especially when your prediction of what you think will make you happy oftentimes doesn’t match the result, as I’ve learned in life.

So what do you do? What can guide you in life to help you make the right decisions on what direction to take? I ask myself two questions:

1. What type of man do I want to be?

Regardless of how happy I’ll be when I get to a destination, I need to be able to look in the mirror and feel dignity, pride, and accomplishment, that regardless if I’m going through a tough time or an easy time, I am who I want to be and can live or die as is.

I want to be an intelligent man, a cultured man, a man who sleeps with beautiful women, and a man who helps his fellow man. I can’t tell you for certain that being an intelligent man will make me happy, but that’s what I want to see when I look in the mirror. Every day through my work, my studies, my leisure, and my actions, I become the man who I want to be.

2. What experience do I want to have first?

Life often throws two options at you that seem to have equal payoffs. Even when you do a cost-benefit analysis, you still can’t identify the superior option. When this happens, simply ask yourself which experience you rather have. You will then pick the option that may give less obvious and immediate happiness, but one which will make you look forward to each day, ready to give your best.

I’m often faced with many options on which country to hit next, made more difficult with the online noise of stories and data sheets. The benefits and weaknesses of one country over another seem to cancel themselves out perfectly. So how do I pick? I pick the country that, if I were to die soon, I would want to experience first before my end arrives. It may not make me happy, and it probably isn’t the easier option, but I’ll more eager to wake every day when I’m there.

I will not fault you if your life strategy is chasing happiness. It’s better than chasing pain or having no strategy at all. But as a man who has been chasing happiness for most of his adult life, I can assure you that there will be no treasure at the end of your rainbow, no matter how many continents you explore and how much pussy you slay. Look at your reflection instead. Study it and ask yourself what type of man you want to see staring back at you. Ask yourself which experiences are urgent for you to have in case of a premature death. These two questions will guide you and make you the best man you can be.

Read Next: Is It Foolhardy To Pursue Happiness?

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  • Rick91

    Great post and idea.

  • http://Wallstreetplayboys.com WallStreetPlayboys

    The problem with “chasing happiness” is you are looking for something or someone to fix your life. That never works. No one change is going to suddenly make you happy.

    Fixing yourself as a man is what the end goal should be.

    This is why all those guys saving for “quitting life” and all those women looking for “their dream man” all end up… Unhappy and rightfully so.

  • Anonymous

    … I wonder if I’ve instructed you to chase a rainbow …

    At some level everything is a rainbow pursuit.

    Your qualities of self-reflection and honesty distinguish you.

  • Bandit

    Excellent post

  • http://AroundtheWorldin80Jobs.com Turner

    I think it is all internal. How you view the world and how your perceive things. Which can be good because you can change this. At first you maybe over joyed to travel, but after a while it gets redundant unless you change something. It becomes a race for more novel more extreme to get the “same” level of happiness from experience.

    This is why I started to do jobs when I traveled, I got bored with just touring around. Getting more engrained in the culture has added another level. Not necessarily happiness, but more contentment. Happiness I think is fleeting, and acceptance of that, can help you on to a greater sense of contentment.

  • http://www.ruxman.com Ruxman

    I felt your previous posts on chasing happiness needed the resolve you’ve offered here. This ties in with your other posts on being an employee, while being your own boss might not offer the happiness, for some people it’s just the right thing for them.

  • John Rambo

    Material happiness, yes. That is why I became a celibate Hindu monk, to find real happiness, spiritual happiness.

    There’s really no happiness in material life. If you fuck a hot girl, then you’ll want to fuck a hotter one.

    Or if you get some nice sports car, you’ll want to get a better one.

    Lust is a fire that can never be put out. Unless and until one experience spiritual happiness, at least. Then material happiness seems very insignificant.

  • samseau

    “What type of man do I want to be?”

    I.e. the pursuit of virtue i.e. Nicomachean ethics.

    Happiness = way of excellent living

  • http://koanicsoul.com Koanic

    You can get a lot of happiness by building in the proper environmental, external factors, habits, and inner life.

    Part of the inner life game of happiness is realizing that centering happiness on yourself will not make you happy.

    You’ve figured out that grinding bangs while traveling solo isn’t optimal for happiness. But you’ve proceeded to a more sophisticated error – that the man in the mirror is a proper focus for finding happiness.

  • Matt

    I found this video quite interesting. It may give you some answers/ideas:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4uG2kSdd-4

  • Myks

    In “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, one of the characters describes how his philosophy had changed after living in a city under siege.

    He believed there were no epic decision points in life, only a series of inconsequential junctions that could end in either salvation or destruction. Tiny decision upon tiny decision upon tiny decision.

    This seems like a similar realization. We’re sold a concept of happiness in popular culture that hinges on grand changes, epic choices that change your life forever and submerge you in that emotional state forever after.

    I like this realization because it prevents you from waiting for a huge moment to change your life.

  • Nook

    Roosh, nice post. I feel that the nature of us as humans is what causes this experience. Our descendants had good reason to continually strive for more, complacency = death. Think about a successful hunter that bagged the largest mammoth on the plains. He would have a kick ass part, followed by some time sitting around gnawing on mammoth meat and thinking about how awesome he was and then…what? If he figured he had finally reached the pinnacle of happiness, eventually the food would run out and his ultimate end would be akin to freezing to death in a hedge maze “The Shining” style. Instead, somewhere about the 2 week mark of lounging around, his brain busts in like a drill sergeant and says “Hey Dillhole, congratulations on successfully completing your most basic function, now if you ladies are done jerking each other off maybe we can get back to hunting, survival and general, all-around, life.” This is the drive that kicks up in you when you achieve a goal. It feels great for awhile, after all, you have accomplished something you set out to do. So as reward, chemicals flood your brain, friends congratulate you and you revel in being the superman you always knew you were deep down. Unfortunately, this is fleeting and eventually that distant imperative grinds on you to get back to striving, conquering and becoming a better person. I think the only true happiness we can hope to achieve is to continually repeat this cycle. Pick something and move to it, enjoy the rush of accomplishing it and carry on to with something new.

  • brazilian reader

    I wonder if you’re familiar with Steven C. Hayes’ ideas

    http://bigthink.com/ideas/happiness-is-an-empty-promise

  • danbk99

    The problem is simple: happiness is a feeling. Feelings never last.

  • http://pussyhoundonthedole.blogspot.com pussyhoundonthedole

    Happiness has four components
    1. Not being upset that you don’t have what you want.
    2. Not being upset that you actually have something you do not want.
    3. Not being afraid that what you do have will be taken away from you
    4. Not being afraid that something undesirable that you do not have will come in to your life one day

    This is how the philosophy works for me
    1. I don’t have a job, but I am not upset. I do have welfare and plenty to time to pursue and sleep with women.
    2. I am not handsome or muscular and I am also slightly balding. But I’m okay with that. I dress my best and work out everyday. If I get muscular, Good. If not, so what? And the shaved look suits me better anyway
    3. I’m not afraid that one day I will be kicked out of welfare and have to find a real Job again and then have no time to pursue women
    4. Nor do I fear that one day I will lose my youth and health and even have to die.

  • http://Alphamission.wordpress.com Alpha Mission

    The answer is simple then. Find contentment

  • BDM

    This is very stoic – reminds me of Marcus Aurelius’s philosophy. Great post.

  • Sam Spade

    I seem to remember Harry Browne saying happiness is a goal AND an emotion. That is it’s something that should affect your decisions, but it’s also something you’re either feeling at the moment or you’re not. You can’t control your emotions exactly, but you can make the decisions that you think will best give you happiness.

    But I think I see your point Roosh. It shouldn’t be a carrot on a stick. I try to enjoy what I have right now, as well as setting goals that I think I’ll enjoy later. Americans are always worried about their futures as if they’re guaranteed. Today it’s 70 degrees, the sun is out, and the women are in tank tops – and I’m happy.

  • Ryan

    Grat post and great comments. The comments can be combined to create an article on its own.

    The problem with “chasing happiness” is you are looking for something or someone to fix your life. That never works. No one change is going to suddenly make you happy.

    Fixing yourself as a man is what the end goal should be.

    This is why all those guys saving for “quitting life” and all those women looking for “their dream man” all end up… Unhappy and rightfully so.

    At some level everything is a rainbow pursuit.

    Your qualities of self-reflection and honesty distinguish you.

    I think it is all internal. How you view the world and how your perceive things. Which can be good because you can change this. At first you maybe over joyed to travel, but after a while it gets redundant unless you change something. It becomes a race for more novel more extreme to get the “same” level of happiness from experience.

    This is why I started to do jobs when I traveled, I got bored with just touring around. Getting more engrained in the culture has added another level. Not necessarily happiness, but more contentment. Happiness I think is fleeting, and acceptance of that, can help you on to a greater sense of contentment.

    There’s really no happiness in material life. If you fuck a hot girl, then you’ll want to fuck a hotter one.

    Or if you get some nice sports car, you’ll want to get a better one.

    Lust is a fire that can never be put out. Unless and until one experience spiritual happiness, at least. Then material happiness seems very insignificant.

    Happiness = way of excellent living.

    You can get a lot of happiness by building in the proper environmental, external factors, habits, and inner life.

    Part of the inner life game of happiness is realizing that centering happiness on yourself will not make you happy.

    You’ve figured out that grinding bangs while traveling solo isn’t optimal for happiness. But you’ve proceeded to a more sophisticated error – that the man in the mirror is a proper focus for finding happiness.

    In “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, one of the characters describes how his philosophy had changed after living in a city under siege.

    He believed there were no epic decision points in life, only a series of inconsequential junctions that could end in either salvation or destruction. Tiny decision upon tiny decision upon tiny decision.

    This seems like a similar realization. We’re sold a concept of happiness in popular culture that hinges on grand changes, epic choices that change your life forever and submerge you in that emotional state forever after.

    I like this realization because it prevents you from waiting for a huge moment to change your life.

    I feel that the nature of us as humans is what causes this experience. Our descendants had good reason to continually strive for more, complacency = death. Think about a successful hunter that bagged the largest mammoth on the plains. He would have a kick ass part, followed by some time sitting around gnawing on mammoth meat and thinking about how awesome he was and then…what? If he figured he had finally reached the pinnacle of happiness, eventually the food would run out and his ultimate end would be akin to freezing to death in a hedge maze “The Shining” style. Instead, somewhere about the 2 week mark of lounging around, his brain busts in like a drill sergeant and says “Hey Dillhole, congratulations on successfully completing your most basic function, now if you ladies are done jerking each other off maybe we can get back to hunting, survival and general, all-around, life.” This is the drive that kicks up in you when you achieve a goal. It feels great for awhile, after all, you have accomplished something you set out to do. So as reward, chemicals flood your brain, friends congratulate you and you revel in being the superman you always knew you were deep down. Unfortunately, this is fleeting and eventually that distant imperative grinds on you to get back to striving, conquering and becoming a better person. I think the only true happiness we can hope to achieve is to continually repeat this cycle. Pick something and move to it, enjoy the rush of accomplishing it and carry on to with something new.

    Happiness has four components
    1. Not being upset that you don’t have what you want.
    2. Not being upset that you actually have something you do not want.
    3. Not being afraid that what you do have will be taken away from you
    4. Not being afraid that something undesirable that you do not have will come in to your life one day

    This is how the philosophy works for me
    1. I don’t have a job, but I am not upset. I do have welfare and plenty to time to pursue and sleep with women.
    2. I am not handsome or muscular and I am also slightly balding. But I’m okay with that. I dress my best and work out everyday. If I get muscular, Good. If not, so what? And the shaved look suits me better anyway
    3. I’m not afraid that one day I will be kicked out of welfare and have to find a real Job again and then have no time to pursue women
    4. Nor do I fear that one day I will lose my youth and health and even have to die.

    The answer is simple then. Find contentment

  • Anonymous

    “Chasing happiness, it turns out, is the same as trying to put a strangle hold on a T-1000 terminator”

    HAHA! That’s fucking brilliant!

    Interesting writing at the very least.

  • Anonymous

    Musashi says: Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.

    you have to find it in everything you do. Then you can have it forever

  • Tampa

    I have changed up my life from “chasing happiness” to chasing experiences. I have figured out through 30+ years of life that what I remember most about living is the expriences and trips I have taken. I can’t think or remember much of the mundane that has happeend, but I can always remember that great trip i took to the Grand Canyon. Or that crazy weekend in Vegas. Of that fun time I had in Yosemitie. Or that crazy ass 4th of July party. I have gotten to the point in my life financially where I am not able to really have some great expereinces…. So that’s my new beacon. Spend money on soem tangible worthless crap (i bought a new car) because it gives me happiness in the short term and then chase experiences via travel and events.

    I think at the end of the day when you’re on your death bed, you’ll remember the hot chicks you banged, the trips you took and the parties you attended.

    And that’s what drives me now.

  • hmmm

    Great topic & comments.
    There are two great books on happiness which many guys might find worth reading:
    The Meaning of Happiness, by Allan W. Watts, and
    Happiness Is a Serious Problem, by Dennis Prager.

    One key point both books make is that your expectations have much impact on your happiness.
    It seems many of us make ourselves pointlessly unhappy by having unrealistic expectations for how well things will go for us and/or how well we will do with our possibilities (achieve, succeed, etc.)

    Another key factor is how you choose to view (interpret, respond to) the facts of your reality.
    This is famously addressed in the classic book Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.

  • soundtrack
  • SJ

    Roosh,

    I write the script of my life and build it to reach my goals. As the actor of my life, that works well. So far I have been developing skills and hobbies, traveling the world and enjoying foreign women, fitness and flying planes and scuba diving. Life is good! Happiness is something we need to create not chase.

    SJ

  • Giovonny

    Post of the year! So far.

    I love this stuff.

    I’m always intrigued why these posts get far fewer comments then the mens rights type posts. Whatever?!

    This stuff is harder to think about. It’s easier to complain about something. Fixing your own issues is harder and dirtier work. More has to be invested.

    I honestly don’t even ask myself if I am happy. I don’t trust my logical brain and ego to provide me an accurate answer.

    I can sense intuitively if I am content or not. If I am fulfilled.

    I worry less about happiness and more about “self-actualization” (Maslow’s chart)

    I think this is basically what you are talking about..

    I think Freud said — “The first step of mental illness is asking “”how do i feel?”"

    Fuck your thoughts and feelings. Let your actions be your guide.

    Intuitive happiness > logical analysis happiness

    Great post!

    Happiness is just a term. A watery, over valued term.

    Focused unhappiness might be a more productive mind set.

    Am I happy? Who cares? I got shit to do!

  • Anonymous

    Happiness is how we relate to fellow human beings, ourselves and the world in general.

    The world is a fascinating and interesting place. the happiness is not in material goods and number of fucks. It is in learning, enjoying life, busting a gut at work, pursuit of hobbies, contentment…

    Hatred and fearing the world is what makes people unhappy at the end of the day.

  • John Rambo

    Arianna Pattek, a racist, man-hating feminist bitch
    http://www.crimesagainstfathers.com/australia/Forums2/tabid/369/forumid/232/threadid/6149/scope/posts/Default.aspx

    In the above link, you will find evidence of her committing the CRIME of discrimination based on a man’s race.

    I have included her personal email, the email of her academic advisor, link to her Facebook account, link to her two blogs, and her pictures as well.

    I suggest you men write to her through her email, Facebook, and blogs, and tell her that you are reporting her for the CRIME of discrimination against men.

    American women are really evil bitches.

  • John Rambo

    Can someone email the above link to Roosh? It would be a good part 2 for “…. feminist gets gang raped by the Internet”.

  • Isaac Jordan

    Reminds me of one of my favorite poems: “The Man In The Glass,” by Dale Wimbrow:

    “When you get what you want in your struggle for self
    And the world makes you king for a day
    Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
    And see what that man has to say.

    For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife
    Whose judgment upon you must pass
    The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
    Is the one staring back from the glass.

    He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
    For he’s with you, clear to the end
    And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
    If the man in the glass is your friend.

    You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
    And get pats on the back as you pass
    But your final reward will be heartache and tears
    If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.”

  • sidereal

    “What is happiness? It’s a moment before you need more happiness.”

    -Don Draper

  • Giovonny

    great comments guys!

  • http://strategyfocussuccess.com/ William

    It’s an interesting issue for sure.

    I find that sometimes I don’t allow myself to be happy in the current situation because I keep thinking about “what’s next?”… ie: what country do I go to next? what project do I take on next etc? This definitely takes away actually enjoying the current country or current project.

    I guess there’s a balance there that needs to be found. Between planning for what’s next and enjoying the current moment.

    It’s difficult.

  • MrBig

    All of that stuff is irrelevant

    Happiness Is A Warm Gun

  • MrBig

    Nevermind, I don’t think you’ll understand it

  • Moses

    Chasing happiness is all wrong. Happiness is not a goal — it’s a byproduct.

    The important thing is to chase meaning.

  • JJJ

    Happiness as a constant state of pleasure is not possible.

    Happiness as a fixed state is also not realistic.

    Happiness is a dynamic process. The author of “flow” put it well. It’s the pursuit of graded challenges that meet (and just exceed) your current abilities.

    Likewise, optimism is the anticipation of reward. It’s not the reward itself, but the pursuit and anticipation that gets us excited, and provides the zest for life.

    It goes without saying: have kickass goals.

    People say money doesn’t buy happiness, but studies have shown that well being increases until about the 70 thousand dollar a year point, which is more than most people see in a year, especially after taxes. After that level, your happiness flattens off because you can basically buy most of the products and services you want.

    Happiness, as opposed to say depression, is about being able to have some amount of control over your environment. Rats that get zapped without cue at random times, develop learned helplessness.

    Having a specific person control you to do something, or being stuck in an environment like a 9-5 job where you feel no power, no influence, or sense of contribution to society, but merely a rule follower….that role is NOT happiness.

    Human beings are also wired to share with each other. So if you just focus on your own happiness, you may end up dissatisfied. Having a community of people to share your experiences with is important.

    Someone else mentioned stephen hayes, who created acceptance and commitment therapy. It’s a third wave behavior therapy in the same family as dialectical behavior therapy. While I do agree with some of those principles (essentialy buddhist ideas stripped of religion, applied to psychology) I also view well-being as being external.

    It’s important to have an unconditional acceptance of your self, others, and the world (acceptance meaning working with reality instead of against it). When shit goes bad, you don’t hate yourself because ultimately you don’t entirely judge your worth on external factors.

    But we are human. Sitting in a room and meditating all day is not going to make most people satisfied.

    Of course, something that you don’t hear mentioned too much in positive psychology is status. Especially for men, having higher status is generally going to lead to more access to resources, and better mate choice. You don’t have to think too much about that one. If you’re famous, you get more sex with higher quality females, ( and with less investment of effort) than 50 dudes with Game combined.

    Freedom of time and mobility is great, but if you don’t have goals, your life sucks.

    The key to happiness is goal pursuit.

  • John Rambo

    Roosh brother, the Arianna Pattek link I posted above, the bitch who was working in the admissions department of Georgetown University and was throwing away white men’s college applications, has become a HUGE SCANDAL already and Paul Elam has published an article showing how Georgetown Uni is already trying to cover it up.

    http://www.avoiceformen.com/georgetown-university-and-men/georgetown-university-in-a-cover-up/

    This has the potential to be the BIGGEST story in the MRA/manosphere EVER.

    The MRAs actually got a huge university SUED for being sexist and biased against men. Imagine it.

    Please, someone email this link to Roosh, this is turning into a MASSIVE SHITSTORM that will make Adriana Richards and Chanty Morris (red head feminist from Toronto) look very small in comparison.

  • Eda Ibis

    It’s simple, really. The Marquise de Merteuil was right.

    Happiness and vanity are incompatible.

  • Indian_hotguy_Bholu

    Yes, This is the wisdom of Hinduism-Roosh v is a hindu or has some genetic traits of hindus

    For all guys over here, i am hot guy hindu

    I have been to bars ,clubs and everywhere, i want to have sex but unfortunately a black magician destroyed my testicles, then i used Hindu scriptures to regain back my testicles .

    If any one needs a remedy to regain his testicles , i have some great ideas, and some hindu scriptures to help you

  • MrBig

    but studies have shown that well being increases until about the 70 thousand dollar

    You left out a 0 because you’d be living at a subsistance level at 70 after taxes.

    Studies have always shown going back at least 50 years that more money=more happiness.At the very least you can insulate yourself from things that will cause unhappiness and anxiety;you’ll also have more freedom.

    Why can’t you have constant happiness?Man evolved to only receive that jolt of endorphins at certain times when he had achieved something that increased his chance of survival. In a more primitive world (close to 100% of human history) being constantly happy(content and with peace of mind) would be detrimental to survival. So the brain tries to maintain homeostasis by counteracting the morphine-like chemicals with other chemicals that seve as an antagonist. Much like naloxone will reverse the effects of morphine. If there’s any chance of achieving real happiness and not having it doled out by Nature in tiny bits, like a beggar getting a crust of bread, it will be through drugs. We just need to develope them like Soma in Brave New World.

  • http://www.partytravelsexlove.com Party Travel Sex Love

    I think the biggest problem w/ finding happiness is that most people don’t know what makes them happy. First you have to be happy with yourself. If you are not happy with who you are you’ll never be happy anywhere. 99% of the people don’t have a clue how to find happiness. They can’t change and just repeat for the rest of their lives the same old behaviors that didn’t produce happiness. You have to know what you want and then plan how to get it. I don’t think an unhappy person can become used to in a bad environment and become happier and I don’t think a happy person in a good environment will become unhappy. For me, I know what makes me happy. I go after it and get it. :-) =

  • Big Ern

    “I can assure you that there will be no treasure at the end of your rainbow, no matter how many continents you explore and how much pussy you slay. Look at your reflection instead.”

    Thanks for this.

  • Anonymous

    Two words: “Hedonic adaptation”. It is a fool’s errand.

  • ecks

    Consider: is happiness the same as pleasure?