Do we really "deserve to be happy"?

Happiness is not an evolutionary prerequisite. Nothing in the process of evolution selects for happiness (or lack thereof). Evolution cares about survival of the species and no advantages are conferred upon happy as opposed to less so individuals.

The "happiness industry" which convinces people that they "deserve to be happy" and in fact makes them miserable because they are not as happy as they "deserve to be", is a recent phenomenon.

When cave men brought home the antelope and everybody ate it around the fire, there was no cave man equivalent of Dr. Phil walking around trying to asses the degree of happiness of the group. In the Middle Ages, happiness was defined as not having the plague. It is only in recent times that the "entitlement of happiness" came about and as more of the basic needs were no longer an acute issue, mankind went searching for the next thing that will make them miserable.

Total bliss or complete happiness is not a default state. Something else must be the default state from which there is a positive deviation - happier than that - and a negative deviation - less happy than that. The current expectation seems to be that the state of total bliss is in fact the default state (or should be) and any deviation from it is less than what we "deserve" to have.

This is fundamentally flawed and is a vicious circle making more people feel more miserable than they should be.


Lisa said…
I think you are correct in that people expect bliss to be a default state...however, I believe the way society now lives...the pace we live at...makes the unhappiness feel that much more severe.

Everyone is so intent on making more, doing more, that we lose sight of what is really important.

Materialism, while not a bad thing, can never fill an emptiness.

A certain amount of unhappiness is needed and necessary to set the gauge for when we are happy, yet it shouldn't be the default state. There has to be some middle ground for more days than not.
Adi said…
There is a reason to consider happiness an evolutionary prerequisite. Think about suicides - it is unhappy people who choose to end their life, not the happy ones.
Miljenko Horvat said…
Hmm, yeah, conceptually yes but in terms of numbers, no - humanity is in no danger of becoming extinct on account of suicides. It's just not a material proportion of the population that goes that way and evolution deals with large numbers and majorities, not the outliers...
j said…
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