Happiness Is Not Science or Math
Naval: Happiness is an extremely loaded term. It means completely different things to different people. Everybody has strong preconceived notions of what happiness is and how they can attain it.
There are many types of happiness
I’m going to conflate happiness, pleasure, peace, joy, bliss, contentment, well-being and more. I don’t do it deliberately.
But at the same time, this is not math. We cannot clearly bound these words. They mean different things in different contexts to different people. So try and get into the spirit of what I’m saying, rather than getting hung up on specific words and details.
When some people talk about happiness, they’re really talking about pleasure or thrills. They might say, “I had a really good meal; therefore, I’m happy.” When other people are talking about happiness, they’re talking about a general state of contentment and well-being. Other people are referring to enlightenment, like a Buddha would have reached.
Many people take the point of view that there’s no such thing as happiness or that happiness is counterproductive—or that misery comes from pursuing happiness. There’s a lot of truth to these ideas; we’ll get into it.
Happiness is more like poetry than algorithms
I might say, “The way to be happy is X,” and people will respond, “Well, didn’t you just say happiness is a cause of misery?” This is not mathematics. You can’t link algorithms together.
This is more like poetry. If you read 50 poems by the same poet and try to map them out analytically and map words from one poem to another and see if it makes sense, you’ll miss the point. Don’t fixate on the words. Don’t even fixate on the sentences. Ponder the overall thought process and message.