The Happiness Fallacy
Well, this morning I had a shower thought that ended up spiralling wildly out of control all day, so I figured I'd post and get it off my chest. Buckle up kids.
Is happiness real?
When I was in highschool I had brutal acne. All I could think about was how I could finally be happy once it was gone. I started accutane, and presto, six months later it was gone. I was happy... for all of a few months. Then it was on to the next thing stopping me from achieving happiness. Being strong. I started working out like a fiend, and put on a bunch of muscle and quite a bit of fat. I achieved my lifting goals, and was truly happy... for a week. Then I needed to get cut. You can probably guess what happened next. Cut for a long-ass time, and eventually got down to single digit bodyfat. The happiness here lasted a little longer, but still faded. Next came the girl I wanted. I put in maximum effort to get her, and halfway through college her an I started dating. I got bored after two months, and the relationship fizzled out. Next came good grades, then travel, then I busted my ass and managed to land my dream job in IB. Guess what? The happiness is gone.
Now you might say, "happiness comes from within, it can't be achieved through external gratification."
Sure, that's great, and it's probably true. But if I hadn't had the drive to chase these external things, I wouldn't be in the fortunate position I am today. I busted my ass, beat the shit out of my body, studied until my brain felt like mush, and am now spending 12-14 hours a day learning through a firehose. The constant pursuit for the thing that will give me my next hit of happiness has exponentially stoked my ambition to be better. To be stronger, faster, smarter, richer, and kinder.
Yet I have friends who work in bars or retail stores, living paycheck to paycheck in shithole apartments, and they're happier than a pig in shit. That's one of the primary reason I'm posting this here. I know this is a finance forum, and despite the fact that there is a whole lot of dumbasses on here, most of the WSO population is either extremely smart, extremely hard working, or a bit of both. I wanted a different perspective on this topic than my buddy who will tell me to "just go with the flow and enjoy," before hitting a bowl, picking up a controller, and playing his 17th straight game of Smash Bros.
I guess this is what I'm asking:
Is happiness a myth that drives us to achieve greatness in it's pursuit? Or is happiness a real thing, and something that can actually be captured?
TL;DR: Read the sentence above.