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
Rick91
7 years ago

Great post and idea.

WallStreetPlayboys
7 years ago

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
Anonymous
7 years ago

… 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
Bandit
7 years ago

Excellent post

Turner
7 years ago

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.

Ruxman
7 years ago

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
John Rambo
7 years ago

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
samseau
7 years ago

“What type of man do I want to be?”

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

Happiness = way of excellent living

Koanic
7 years ago

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
Matt
7 years ago

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

Myks
Myks
7 years ago

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
Nook
7 years ago

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
brazilian reader
7 years ago

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

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

danbk99
danbk99
7 years ago

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

pussyhoundonthedole
7 years ago

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.

Alpha Mission
7 years ago

The answer is simple then. Find contentment

BDM
BDM
7 years ago

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

Sam Spade
Sam Spade
7 years ago

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
Ryan
7 years ago

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
Anonymous
7 years ago

“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
Anonymous
7 years ago

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
Tampa
7 years ago

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
hmmm
7 years ago

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
soundtrack
7 years ago
SJ
SJ
7 years ago

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