The Pursuit of Happyness


When you are seeking it, happiness is just beyond your reach

I have a jamboree of ideas, thoughts, random quotes in my head right now. Making sense of them (or even finding out whether the whole rigmarole does make a logical sense) is proving to be quite difficult.

Hence, writing to purge. As ever.

I have been entranced by how The Pleasure Paradox is put neatly into words. A concept that takes time to be understood and entrenched in the mind, but this is one of those lessons like putting your hand into fire the first time. You learn it instinctively the next time onwards.

Figuring out happiness takes a bit longer though.

Pleasure and happiness cannot be reverse-engineered. If you have experienced pleasure while doing something, or if you have seen anyone else experience pleasure after doing something, you cannot isolate that pleasure and aim to achieve it directly.

It is known that a set of people achieve pleasure watching cricket. It increases camaraderie, encourages esprit-de-corps and with a Sachin century, gives a lot of people a distinct high that spills over into everything else that they do (including a higher sensex at the end of the day). You know this, you have seen this happen. However, you cannot look at that result and say you could achieve the same by watching cricket just like everyone else. The pleasure that you may or may not achieve depends highly on the activity itself, and how you relate to it. Pretty much a “set and setting” description. Even if you like the activity, your pleasure at it would be your own, and very unique to yourself, just like every rainbow you see is unique from everyone else’s. (This is scientifically true, as any rainbow that you see is a result of dispersion of colors from the raindrop that you saw. Anyone else would see the rainbow from a different water drop, and hence it would be different. Similar but unique, nevertheless.)

Point being happiness is elusive and cannot be caught or stored. The chances of you being happy is highest when you are not thinking about happiness.

At many professional and personal crossroads, I have been routinely asked the question, “What do you want? What do you want to do? What would make you happy?” I am usually stumped by the question as I rarely have clear ideas in my head about where I want to go out for dinner, what kind of a relationship do I want, what sort of a job I want to do, or the big daddy question “what would make me happy”.

More often than not however, I have had a clear idea of the opposite. What I do not want to do, what I do not want to eat, what kind of a job I do not want to do, what kind of things I do not want in my relationship, which city I do not want to stay in. This also seems natural seeing I have been a whiner all my life (in every single professional review of mine, I have been categorically told that I whine hell of a lot).

And hence, in doing the best with the set of tools I have, I have lived the following way. If I systematically and thoroughly remove things, activities, cities, jobs, relationships that I do not want to be in or doing, I would eventually stumble upon things that do make me happy.

Immediately, two things spring up to mind. The Ockham’s razor. And the Sherlock Holmes quote, “When you have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Both do not relate to my quandary at all. And yet sound similar. I have not yet let go of my need to find the grand unified theory.

Does my method work though? Not really. Living is finite. Time is finite. Cutting down on things that do not make you happy is (and it appears as) extremely selfish. Also, takes a toll on you, and your self belief. Also it is a very inefficient process.


1. Seeking out happiness directly does not work.

2. Hoping to stumble upon happiness by moving away from unhappiness does not work because of inherent inefficiency of the process.

3. Don’t know. Still don’t know


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