The Pursuit of Happiness: Why You Are Doing it Wrong.

Good day, hope life is dandy. The purpose of this article is funnily enough hypocritical to its message, but there are several things I aim to do by writing this all out, they are;

  • To explain why self-help books put across the wrong message.
  • To direct a better approach to achieving a sense of happiness and fulfilment.
  • To stress the importance of the writings of others from the past, rather than that of those in the present.
  • To highlight the importance of greater issues in modern life, rather than to follow the social trend of watching crap television and dismissing the important subjects needed today as ‘boring’.

Though even if you have nothing better to do, I’d urge you to give the full post a read, let me know what you think, and let me know whether this has made you feel better in any way. I’d like the message to get across clearly and I’d like people to understand why I think these things are important. I remind you that this is all my own opinion and not the only way to achieve happiness. It’s more so that these are issues I think are lacking in people these days, and it could do a good deal to see them brought into more importance. Of course, to claim that this is the only way to be happy would run counter to the point of this thread.

Today I felt the need to write on happiness and the pursuit of happiness in this modern age, and I’ve come to realise that a lot of people are all too eager to base their way of life off that of others. People nowadays buy self-help books and attend seminars that costs a reasonable sum of money, it’s my opinion that these things just aren’t worth it in comparison to how much you actually get from them.

Happiness is derived from human experience and knowledge. Wisdom to pass down to others only from experience from a long and fruitful life. It is best to live in the moment and be grateful for it, than not at all, and to be cynical.

Happiness is derived from human experience and knowledge. Wisdom to pass down to others only from experience from a long and fruitful life. It is best to live in the moment and be grateful for it, than not at all and to be cynical.

Your standard self-help book, or at least the majority of the ones I have read, is terrifically adapted to the modern way of living and how to get ahead in this climate. That is; by being a forthright and headstrong go-getter in order to create an image of invulnerability to your peers. That’s at least what is described on the box, but look within and you’ll find that to go about that you often have to become self-centred, arrogant and rude. The last book I read was called “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Robert A. Glover, it was given to me on suggestion by someone after a discussion on how to get more out of your interactions with women. Generally I knew that my way with women isn’t really in question and that I am quite a nice approachable guy and that I don’t really have any problems with talking to or interacting with the opposite sex, but I read the book as a curiosity. As it turned out, according to the book which has so much praise and accolades, the only way to have women respect you was to care more about yourself, ignore the wants of others and focus solely on your own, to put vanity and strength in front of compassion and selflessness. That’s the message I got from it, now in the modern world a majority of the women claim to seek that strong, powerful image in men, but in the long run that is a recipe for disaster in the relationship world. And there is a difference between being a man capable of holding his own as well as being a compassionate human being, and being a jerk. The book seemed to want me to become a jerk and to act brasher towards my friends and girlfriend, so obviously I ignored the advice.

As I said before, a majority of women claim to look for a headstrong and confident man, but when the girls get these guys, they can easily find out that the headstrong man doesn’t want to give ground in arguments, and doesn’t want to co-operate as he should in a relationship. Therefore I can safely assume that the headstrong, self-centred man is only good for relationships with little commitment. Then there are those who are both headstrong, confident men but also understand when they are wrong, or when it is better to reason and exchange ideas in order to come to a sensible conclusion through discussion. These are the real men; ideal to handling the confrontations and necessities involved in relationships, but also strong enough not to be taken for a fool when he is wrong. I can’t admit to being one of those men, but I’m only a 21 year old with comparatively little experience in the world compared to most role models who possess all these desirable traits, and on the whole you’ll find that those men have not had to rely on self-help books and articles.

Get some perspective on life, history, and everything. It’ll serve you better in life.

Scenes like this are frequent in history, men so embroiled and passionate as to take up arms against their own brothers in revolution. The same passion for political ideals cannot be said to exist in today's climate. Is their cause a forgotten and meaningless one in today's world? (Not exclusive to American Revolutionaries, as such revolution has existed across the globe for millennia.)

Scenes like this are frequent in history, men so embroiled and passionate as to take up arms against their own brothers in revolution. The same passion for political ideals cannot be said to exist in today’s climate. Is their cause a forgotten and meaningless one in today’s world? (Not exclusive to American Revolutionaries, as such revolution has existed across the globe for millennia.)

If you are a reader and rely on these kinds of self-help things, take a look at how many books you have read or own that deal with how to be a better character, or a happier person, or a stronger decision-maker. How much money have you sunk into that? And comparatively how happier do you feel? I can only talk from personal experience but I have probably wasted considerable time and money in trying to find the answer to being a better person before I realised that it’s got nothing to do with reading books and looking for answers from others who claim to be better than me. There were far more successful and happier men than me in the past, before self-help guides were readily available. What did those men read? They read the classics. Sure, that might sound boring and you might shudder when I mention names like Plato, Sophocles and Virgil. But whether writing fiction or not the stories and articles they wrote normally dealt with some significant and key part of human understanding or a part of life. Sophocles’ Theban plays deal largely with human suffering due to the faults of those with excess pride or power. Plato’s The Republic is a dialogue between several key Athenian figures (though fictionalised) on the rights and wrongs of justice and order. I have found consistently greater pleasure and understanding as well as a following sense of expanded self-worth after reading these classical pieces in comparison to self-help books. They deal more plainly and more practically with the rights and wrongs of human character, and often allow the reader to make their own judgements and interpretations, and these come from the very foundations of western civilisation as we know it. That is to say, the majority of how the world works now is on the whole due to what those who came before us had accomplished, and by and large those who take great success in life are the happier and more able ones, who then go on to write of their opinions for others. People read the wrong things nowadays, and instead of learning from historical teachers, philosophers, tacticians and leaders; we instead learn from pop-icons, drama queens, The Only Way Is Essex and failed doctorates with an incomplete psychology degree. The world is truly in a sorry state for sources of inspiration.

I would beg of anyone who is reading this and still seeking to find the answer to happiness, understand this; these is no ‘secret’ to happiness and no ‘key’ to success. That is for your own understanding and your own conclusions to make. You needn’t listen to others to tell you how to live your life, because that’s essentially like trying to take a square block and put it in a circular hole. This is someone imposing how they live their life onto your life, and there is no one true high and mighty way to live your life. I implore you to go to your stash of self-help books and studies and throw them out. Replace them with studies from the dawn of western civilisation and of modern thought, think deep about the issues they raise and the points they make, and come to your own conclusions on civilisation, politics and life. Continuing to buy into the trade of self-improvement by way of taking the word of others is impractical, whereas a wide verse of classical, political and historical knowledge may better equip you with the resources to come to your own conclusions that you make yourself, rather than ingesting that of someone else’s. The world today needs less people to brush off these subjects as boring and dull and meaningless; I find them fascinating, and I am by no measure a lifeless vegetable, I enjoy a brilliant and fulfilling social life in the outside world. We need more thinkers, people armed with the knowledge and capability of the past in order to make better decisions for the future, therein a more practical form of happiness is achieved, I find, by understanding your connection in history and as part of mankind or a member of a country or group or organisation. Apathy in politics is rife in today’s society, thinking it doesn’t matter, and that history is done and no longer relevant to today, these people cannot be more wrong. We need less people hooked to what Katie Price is doing and hanging on the teachings of Jersey Shore and the rest of those abominable MTV reality crapfests.

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The Greeks established the first western universities and the belief that knowledge was a powerful and useful tool for men in the world of early politics and civilisation. It is important that people continue the tradition of teaching important subjects so that others may benefit from the mistakes or accomplishments of the past. We are the architects of tomorrow – to be cheesy about it – and we need this knowledge of politics, culture, justice and history, as well as a great many other core subjects.

For an example I will use the opinion on politics in the United Kingdom, and a lot of people I know don’t care or participate in elections or voting because they can’t be bothered, or they aren’t interested. As it goes, people don’t vote because they claim they don’t see how it will change anything. The logic of this reasoning is in itself flawed. The last UK general election had a turnout of around 65%, which means that 35% of the population were still without representation. That’s 21,924,350 people without proper representation of their wants in the commons. “But the politicians are all scrooges anyway” – Well, that may be so, but of the 419 registered political parties in the United Kingdom, not all of them can be corrupt. If more people knew what was better for the country and voted rather than sitting back and letting others do it because they believe it can’t be helped, then the entire system of a representational democracy is lost, and we might as well go back to being an absolute monarchy. Of course, that’s a very simplified argument and there are scores of other variables such as the parties involved, the size of constituencies, the number of seats, the voting system, etc. But still, you get the point. People who are apathetic about politics can hardly hope for real change, and on the whole, they don’t understand enough to hope to do anything about it. Knowledge really is power, in this case. And even if the current political system is hopelessly corrupt, at least there would be more people who could do something about it.

In short, if you’ve read this far, you’ve done well enough to take a step in the right direction. Now the rest is up to you, I can’t tell you how to live your life but I can point you in the right direction and set you on your way. I am no psychology master, I am a history student, but I feel a greater sense of understanding and connection and responsibility from starting with the classics and working up, than from reading the ramblings of a quack professor of whoknowswhat. I hope this post has inspired someone to take up an interest in some of the more important studies and to yearn to get a better understanding of where we came from and what we are in society, the rights and wrongs and to become a better person through knowledge and wisdom.

I leave you with this video.

Thanks for reading, spread the message.

One comment on “The Pursuit of Happiness: Why You Are Doing it Wrong.

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