The Centre for the Pursuit of Happiness
Have you ever wondered why so many people seem to be unhappy? Why so
many people in the Western world in particular seem to be constantly in
search of that elusive goal? At least that seems to be true for the adults.
Yet children seem to be happy - or at least the young ones. Is it
really the nature of humanity to require psychological counseling and drugs
to function as adults? And what do children know that the adults do
it be that our culture teaches us to be unhappy? Could it be that our
institutions reinforce these teachings? Could it be that those of us
who are parents are working hard to ensure that our children grow up
insecure and miserable? Is it any wonder, then, that adults who seek
counseling generally spend most of that effort revisiting their childhood,
trying to make sense out of the dysfunctions of their upbringing?
people seem to be divided between two opposing opinions as to the happy
nature of human beings. Some believe that people are born knowing how
to be happy - how to learn, how to explore, how to grow - and the best that
parents can do is to protect their children from the efforts of others to
indoctrinate their children by force or coercion. Others believe that
happiness, initiative, and the ability to live a meaningful life must be
taught, and thus the role of the parent is to train their children how to
live lest they be faced with lazy and miserable adults once the children
first view of child rearing is organic, with the parent's role as nurturer
and protector. Growth is natural and automatic. The second view is
industrial, with the parent's role as engineer and builder. Growth is the
result of conscious design and effort on the part of the parents.
philosophical difference of opinion is critical to understand, because it
underlies, we believe, the epidemic of unhappiness that plagues the Western
be said that the average parent today teaching their child how to live a
happy, meaningful life is like the blind leading the blind. What these
adults are really doing is ensuring that their children will end up as lost
and confused as the parents are, and ensuring a long and profitable career
for the psychiatric profession. Parents, teachers and institutions who
carefully guide the lives of children are actually interfering with the
natural efforts of those children towards self discovery.
teach our children, often we are, in reality, unknowingly indoctrinating
them with cultural concepts that have little to do with their ultimate
happiness. Many of these concepts impose limiting points of view. Yet
for a child the limitless nature of reality can and should be a constant
source of fascination and excitement. Once a person identifies themselves
with a limited point of view, other views become a source of threat and
danger instead of growth and positive energy. Only when one abandons fear
and limitations and embraces the infinite unknown is a state of happiness
possible. It is only then that change is fun instead of threatening.
Static things no longer hold great value.
a state of comfort with change and uncertainty occurs naturally as children
grow. However, children who are sheltered too much or on whom are imposed
limiting world views will cease developing and stay in a stunted, adolescent
emotional state that does not allow for personal happiness.
adults who revisit this stage of their life through psychotherapy learn to
ignore the fears they learned in a dysfunctional childhood and to embrace a
broad and open view of the nature of reality they will naturally reject
those learned opinions that are not truly their own. They will accept those
shadow aspects of themselves that they had previously kept in the closet and
will begin the process of reconciliation of their own nature, and
introduction to their true self.
when adults understand that their unhappiness stems from the core fact that
they are not living their own life, that in fact they do not even know who
they really are, will they understand the critical need to allow their
children the time and space for self-discovery. As well, adults who
are stuck in a sort of permanent adolescence of "quiet
desperation" must take the time to get to know that one closest to
themselves, without fear of judgment. Learning to accept, respect, and
ultimately love oneself is not only the key to happiness, it is the
necessary prerequisite to the ability to love others, and thus the key to
world peace and prosperity.