You don't deserve to be happy

· 1 min read

I remember a long walk I had with an old college friend of mine. He was a very intelligent, well-versed in philosophy Ph.D. candidate. He was also very depressed. Our entire 1 hour long walk from Downtown Manhattan to Grand Central terminal was occupied with the "what's the meaning of life" conversation. He explained to me that life is meaningless. It seemed very logical to him: since it's obvious that happiness is the goal in life, and we now have ways of chemically inducing states of happiness, there's nothing else left to do. Another highly intelligent person I met recently confidently described happiness as "the feeling of getting what you want."

Bookshelves overflow with "enjoy your life" titles. Cheerful social media influencers proclaim that happiness is a choice while advertising a consumption-based lifestyle. Everywhere I look – happiness is not just desirable; it is, in fact, something you deserve! The first ever guided meditation on the Headspace app wanted me to "imagine a golden light flow through the top of your head to fill up every cell of your body."  An ad in a local conscious community group invites me to join "the five days workshop to elevate myself to the next level of consciousness and happiness." Sex sells. Happiness sells better.

The desire to be happy is the very definition of unhappiness. Is there some fundamental reason I should be striving to be happy as often as possible? Don't get me wrong; I enjoy good moments when they come. I refuse, however, this to be the main motivator of my life's direction. I hope to see myself as different from animals, hardwired to eat, sleep and socialize. I don't believe the universe, evolution, or authority figures ever had my happiness in mind.

I might come across as jaded, bitter, or hopeless. Yet I believe that the treadmill of self-centered hope-fuelled circle-jerk of self-healing is a trap that keeps us running in place.

Suppose you don't deserve to be happy. How would your life be different then?