I have heard a lot of discussion recently about happiness: Pursuing it, how others find it, capitalizing on it in the gargantuan self-help industry. Defining it is subjective.
Is it overrated? Can we settle for “it is what it is” and be done with it? Is happiness like a drug – a fleeting flush of endorphins we hope to get again and again?
I am reminded of Thomas Hobbes’ claim that life in nature is “…solitary, nasty, brutish and short.”
In nature, everything struggles to survive. All living things must force their way in survival or perish. A seedling pushes through rock and soil in a struggle to find warmth and sunshine. It then competes with other plant life for sun space. Competition, or as Hobbes calls it a “war of all against all” is the result. Organizing ourselves with social contracts provides shelter from the war in nature. So, by organizing into societies, we have provided ourselves with a bit of breathing room to pursue happiness. Happiness is a byproduct. Yet, we have taken ourselves outside of nature.
I wonder… is our increased societal organization really offering us more opportunity for happiness?