Ronit and I read a lot about happiness, we talk a lot about happiness, we write a lot about happiness and we do our best every day to be happy. In fact, we believe that happiness should be the main pursuit of everybody’s life. But some people say this focus is filling the world with selfishness and that people who want personal happiness are selfish.
In a book called The Lonely Crowd, David Riesman wrote in 1950 that people could be split into two groups. He said that the inner-directed person “has a trustworthy character and builds his life on the stability and security of his family. Usually, he believes in the Judeo-Christian faith”. The other-directed person, on the other hand, is “dependent on the approval of others, especially experts. They are consumed by a quest for personal happiness, so that … anything becomes permissible if it makes me happy”.
Yes, this is an old book, but I read this quote this morning in a much newer book on personal power and relationship skills, so the notion that our pursuit of happiness makes us selfish and self-centered is still very much alive today.
So what’s the deal? Does personal happiness equate to selfishness? Does the search for personal fulfillment make us lonely?
“Pooh!” the bear snorted, “Again I say pooh!”
– The Big Brag, Dr Seuss
Being a selfish happiness seeker is like drilling for oil in your own back yard. No matter how much oil you find, the yard will never be the same, your house will stand out from the rest and none of your neighbors will remain your friends. It is like cutting down the trees in the Amazon and making a quick buck, but destroying the future of your children and their children.
Read more about how to be happy in life…