The goal of happiness – 200 words project


Here is this week’s 200 words project:

“ I find the notion of happiness rather strange … It has never been a goal of mine; I just don’t think in those terms.”

“ I try to give meaning to my existence through my work. That’s a simplified answer, but whether I am happy or not really doesn’t count for much.”

         – Werner Herzog in Werner Herzog – A Guide for the Perplexed: Conversations with Paul Cronin

When it seems like the whole world is engaged in the pursuit of happiness, when the media sells happiness, when it seems like the ultimate goal of humanity is trying to be happier, to read Herzog say that happiness has never been a goal of his – it is quite a shock.

How can you not want to be happy? I want to ask him. How can you say that happiness is not a goal? Truly, how can anyone not aspire to be happy?

But, assuming this were the case, if like Herzog, I was not concerned about my happiness as a goal to aspire towards, how would life be? Would I make the same choices I do now? Would my bad habits and distractions fall to the wayside, since then the brief pleasure of these distractions, the instant gratification, the guilty pleasures – these wouldn’t mean anything? Would I be content with the way the my life is?

If my work was the way I find meaning in my life, what would my work be? What would you and I do?

Would we just toil away towards our work and not worry about things like happiness and contentment? Would the only question be – are we going to do our work or not? Would we make the hard choices easily?

An interesting thought experiment indeed.

About the 200 Words Project

Once every week, on Monday morning, I will post my ‘200 Words Project’ post where I will ruminate on some idea which caught my interest in the current book I’m reading, or maybe (sometimes) from a blog post or podcast – in 200 words or more, never less!

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