Imagine that in the last week, you:
· Tattooed your backside
· Thumped your neighbour
· Got married
· Robbed a bank
· Donated a kidney
· Had botox
· Joined a mnastery
· Devoured a huge pizza in three minutes and
· Leaped off a very high bridge
Okay, so you had a busy week.
Question: What do each of the above have in common?
Answer: These are all things that might do to feel happier. Really! In fact, it’s a trick question because I could have put anything on the list. The motivation behind everything you do – and the motivation behind everything everybody does – is to feel better.
Don’t take my word for it. Ask the psychologists or read Plato, Aristotle and Sigmund Freud. There is a lot of debate about the meaning of life. There is broad agreement about why we do what we do – we want to be happy and stay happy.
You devour an entire pizza in three minutes. Your thought is, “This feels good. I want to be happy now.” You hire a personal trainer and eat lettuce for six months. Your aim is, “I want to like my butt – and this will make me happier.” You quit alcohol. Why? “If I do this I will feel better.”
Mary says, “I donate to charity because I want to help people.” Sure, Mary, but would you donate if it made you miserable? Fred says, “I punched my neighbour because he came at me with a spade!” Correct, Fred. You made a hasty decision, “To be happier in the very short term I need to creak Larry’s nose before he whacks me with a gardening tool.”
Different people do different things but the objective remains the same – if I do this I will feel better.
You study accountancy for four years to please your dad. You say, “I did it to make him happy.” No you didn’t. You did it because you feel better doing what he wants than you would feel doing what you want.
Whether you sacrifice for your kids, whether you marry or divorce, whether you get a tattoo or join the priesthood, the ultimate goal is the same. Even if you leap off a very high bridge, it is an attempt to feel better – I’ll be happier dead than alive”.