Why Be Happy When You Could Be Interesting?
"We don't really want what we think we want," says philosopher Slavoj Žižek. It's a strange, almost exotic thought at a time when many of us are inundated daily with the prospect of infinite choice.
You can no longer buy a product, it seems, without expressing your opinion. (Do you want whiter teeth or a toothpaste that acknowledges the sensitivity of your gums? Dish soap that smites bacteria, or one that's free of environmental toxins?) For better or worse, customization has infiltrated our daily lives to an unprecedented degree and the message is clear: Live your best life. Find happiness here and now.
But what if happiness isn't actually all that fulfilling? Watch the video:
In this second video from our interview with Žižek, the author of Big Think's most recent Book of the Month argues that happiness is a conformist category. And moreover, none of us really want it. Which is a good thing, since the pursuit of happiness is an Enlightenment value that gets at only one aspect of what it means to live a good life.
"Let’s be serious: when you are in a creative endeavor, in that wonderful fever--'My God, I’m onto something!' and so on--happiness doesn't enter it," he says. "You are ready to suffer. Sometimes scientists, I read in a history of quantum physics... were even ready to take into account the possibility that they [would] die because of radiation. Happiness is, for me, an unethical category." It's also boring.
You can be happy without being moral. You can be happy without being interesting or engaged in the world around you. You can be happy without having a single creative idea or interest or passion. You can get everything you desire, and still not be happy. So why even focus on finding bliss?
Tell us: Would you rather be happy or inspired?
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.
- China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
- Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
- Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.
Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.
Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.
- Facebook and Google began as companies with supposedly noble purposes.
- But pressure to return value to shareholders came at the expense of their own users.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.