Happiness – An Unrealizable Ideal


What are the essential intentions and goals of people ? What do they want from life ? What are they going for ?

We don’t deceive ourselves if we answer: they aspire to happiness, people want to be and stay happy. This aspiration has two faces, a negative and a positive one: on the one hand, avoiding pain and unpleasantness, and on the other hand enjoying intense pleasure.

In a narrower sense, the term “happiness” only means that the second goal has been achieved. In correlation with this duality of purposes, the activity of people can have two directions, as they try in a predominant or even exclusive manner to acheive one or other of the goals.

As we see, it is only the principle of pleasure that determines the purpose of life, leading the operations of the mental apparatus; there is no doubt about the use of this principle. However, the whole universe  – both the macrocosm and the microcosm –  cospire to the failure of this purpose of man, a purpose that is absolutely urealizable. The whole order of the universe opposes man. We could say that it was not in the plan of  “Creation” that man should be happy.

What we call happiness, in the most strict sense of the term, results rather from a satisfaction of needs that have reached a great deal of tension, which by its nature is only possible as an episodic phenomenon.

If the program that the pleasure principle demands and wich is to be happy is not feasible, we are still allowed not to give up the effort to get closer to it. To get here we can use very different ways means… No advice here is valis for everyone, each of us having to look for the way to become happy.

It all depends on the amount of real satisfaction that each of us can get from the outside world, by the way he is able to become independent and the power to change his wishes. In that regard, without taking into account the objective circumstances, determinant will be the psychic consistency of the individual.

Thus, the person who has erotic temperament will firstly put affective relations with the people, the narcisist will look for essential pleasures among those that come from his inner life, and the man of action will not lose sight of the outside world with which he is fit to try his power.

from S. Freud, Anguish and civilization


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