[March 12, 2023] People are not after being happy. They are interested in not being hurt. Most folks do not want to be bubbly, enthusiastic, and full of laughter and smiles. That is not what they mean by “I want to be happy.”
They mean, “I don’t want to be anxious or in pain.” People want to avoid unnecessary suffering.
You don’t want to be happy. You want to avoid suffering.
Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said in his philosophizing that his job was not to make things easier for people but to make them more difficult. There would come a time, he believed, when what people wanted wasn’t more ease but more challenge and more difficulty. And that is a smart observation and very accurate.
I’ve come to understand that we do not want a utopia, that ideal future based on security and safety.
Many of us object to this, much like Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who said the thing about people we don’t understand is that we’re fundamentally ungrateful. If you set up a utopia so that all people had to do was eat cake and busy themselves with sexual pleasure, after a short time, people would go mad and break things just so something unexpected and remarkable could happen.
Humans are not built for security and safety but for adventure. That is good to know. We don’t want to suffer unduly. That seems reasonable. And maybe we might think that is really what we want is happiness. But if that is your goal, Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, what will you do when the jackboots hammer down your door at two in the morning and haul you off to the prison camp? You will not be happy there.
Happiness is like an easily capsized boat, and the waves are always there. If your personal philosophy is one of happiness, then you will not be prepared when all hell breaks loose and all hell will break through at some point in your life. If what floats your boat is happiness, you’re going to be capsized by the first decent wave.
Ask yourself what might be more reliable, and seeking adventures of the right kinds are more reliable than happiness.
In the Old Testament story of Abraham, he is presented as a late bloomer with a wealthy father and a doting mother. He could sit around the tent all day and busy himself with local pleasures. God appears to him and tells Abraham to get out of his security and get out of his comfort, leave his family, community, and nation, and go out into the world.
This is a fascinating story. In this story, God is presented as the manifestation of the spirit that calls the secure and pampered people to adventure. And Abraham has a tough go of it. He runs into a conspiracy of elites to steal his wife; he runs into tyranny, starvation, and war. He goes out into the world and has the whole tragedy of his life.
The implication is that if you have a sufficient adventure, then that cannot so much protect you from suffering because that is impossible, but to justify it.
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Great song. I listen to it all the time.
I hope that readers of this article do not miss the point that Gen. Satterfield is trying to make; that being happy is NOT what we are after. We want something else in our lives and happiness just happens occasionally to be the byproduct. Look for adventure. Look for being a good man or good woman. Look to the good and strive for a noble cause. Those are the things that make for a better life.
Lady Hawk, you nailed it as far as I’m concerned. And yes, most will totally miss the point of Gen. Satterfield’s point here.
This is why reading this leadership blog every day is so important. You can put things into context.
This is exactly why I’ve been such a long time reader of Gen. Satterfield’s blog. I also got a copy of both is books that are linked to at the end of each article. Be happy? Seek happiness? No Wrong.
An appalling idea.
I laughted a bit when I read this Ron C. And, of course, you are spot on with it. The old song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is indeed an appalling but very inticing philosophy of life. Maybe that is why those cultures with this as part of their way of being never seem to do well compared to others.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-diB65scQU (nearly 4 minutses) Worth listening to.
Tricked me on the title. Ha Ha. But Gen. Satterfield got it right.
Let them eat cake….. and let’s see how they like it in a few months.
They will tire of it and want to be back in the game of life very quick.
“Humans are not built for security and safety but for adventure. That is good to know.” Gen. Satterfield. I think this is an important message that we should never ever forget. Put this into your brain. And when you want to sit on the beach drinking a martini after retirement, I think you will be bored and glad you left the beach after about a week. That is not the life humans are after. It is only a dream that will never come true because it is not true.
In the Old Testament story of Abraham, he is presented as a late bloomer with a wealthy father and a doting mother. He could sit around the tent all day and busy himself with local pleasures. God appears to him and tells Abraham to get out of his security and get out of his comfort, leave his family, community, and nation, and go out into the world. This is a fascinating story. In this story, God is presented as the manifestation of the spirit that calls the secure and pampered people to adventure. And Abraham has a tough go of it. He runs into a conspiracy of elites to steal his wife; he runs into tyranny, starvation, and war. He goes out into the world and has the whole tragedy of his life. The implication is that if you have a sufficient adventure, then that cannot so much protect you from suffering because that is impossible, but to justify it. WOW
This is why the Bible can help you if you just understand it. A quick read is not good enough. Understand is hard. Read the Bible but also read what others say about it too.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:6
Good one, Dog Man. And best quote for this idea that we will not have happiness as a good and succeed in life.
All good points, but Eddie has picked out the most important part of Gen. Satterfield’s article for us. There are many lessons we can learn from it. Suffering will occur. You must justify it.
Excellent article today, Gen. Satterfield. Thanks. Oh, got your book “55 rules for a good life” and am enjoying it too.
Gen. Satterfield, a very misleading heading but I do understand. There are many people who seek “happiness” when they are not really seeking it. Just confusion on their part. Those that do seek happiness are often pushing themselves toward drugs like alcohol (most popular), weed, coke, etc. They think that is the path, an easy path, but that path takes you only to your horrific death. They believe they can bend reality and they are the exception to the rule that drugs will make you happy. Wrong. If you drink alcohol or smoke weed or a host of drugs, then stop now and see how your life will improve.
Right Max but, sadly, only a few of us are willing to listen. The rest, esp. our young folks today, will never hear that message and if they do, they will reject it out of hand. They see their “friends” being “happy” from drugs and alcohol and so why not go that way.
Hot to be happy is the troll to get us to read and listen to this article, Adolf. And you and Max are right. Only a few of us are willing to listen to his message. We all should.
Well said. 😊
Don’t worry, be happy. Remember the song?
Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Over 303 Million views on YouTube.
Message, do not be responsible for anything at all and you will be happy. Wrong. And I think that is also the point of Gen. Satterfield’s blog post today. Responsibility does not equal happy. It means finding satisfaction in your accomplishments and in others.
Ha Ha….. I remember the song and played it often as a kid. Fortunately, I did not take it’s advice. You cannot be “happy” in the simple sense. You do want to avoid tragedy and evil. That has something in it. 😎
The song keeps playing over and over in my head ….. acccckkkkkkkkkk