“ The idea that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. ”- Mark Manson
One of the most thought-provoking revelation about human desire is that the fulfillment of it, takes away every ounce of happiness and meaning it promises.
To put it in simpler terms, the fulfillment of desire creates an empty vacuum that should be replaced by another (usually bigger) desire.
According to Psychologist, Dan Gilbert, this is caused by our mind ‘s emotional homeostasis system- an emotional regulatory system that constantly neutralize our extreme emotions.
This is why heartbreaks don’t feel as painful as time goes by.
This is why lottery winners’ joy doesn’t last long.
This is also why the happiness we get from fulfilling certain desires does not last long.
So if fulfilling a desire is not the point, and the fulfillment of desire only makes you desire more, then what is the point of desire?
Evolutionary biologists argued that the point of human desire is to push us to grow as a race or as Mark Manson likes to put it, “It’s how evolution made sure we got shit done.”
Without desire and its unique biological programmings, we will become complacent old men and women who will be satisfied with life’s simplest pleasures. We will probably die a happy man or woman; but probably, human beings will not survive as a race. Our complacency and contentment will probably get us killed by wild animals or deadly diseases.
So after reading through various books on human desire and happiness, my conclusion is this:
The pursuit of happiness is an illusion.
We are not destined to do one special thing in life, where if you miss it, you will be screwed and unhappy at the same time.
You can do anything you want and pursue any desire you wish. From our biological standpoint, all desires are the same- the moment you fulfill it, you will feel empty.
Thus, the key to a happy life is to pursue our desires with a little detachment. Realize that at the end of the day, even if you don’t get to fulfill that desire, you will not lose anything. For behind those desires you will not find the eternal happiness that you think existed. Behind a desire, is another bigger desire that promises the illusion of fulfillment…
The pursuit of happiness is to finally realize that happiness is the pursuit. Not the other way around.
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P.S. as you may notice, this is a continuation to my previous article The Right and Wrong Way of Pursuing Dream, which mainly deals with extreme desires or obsession. Click the link above to read the part 1