The meaning of happiness

“Such is the way the gods spun life for unfortunate mortals,
that we live in unhappiness, but the gods themselves have no sorrows.”

Homer, The Iliad (24.503-26)

Milan Kundera’s novel ‘the unbearable lightness of being’ from 1984 depicts the idle attempt of man to chase happiness. But happiness to Tomas is what is the bunch of grapes to Tantalus, such is the wreath of life to man. Certainly, the greatest desires of mankind and in history is happiness. Happiness is not only the least well defined objective of man however, it is also trivial. A man of great spirit not per se rejects happiness, nor does he need to be indifferent toward it, but it has no weight in the balance of his objectives.

In the philosophy of personal integrity the pursuit of happiness is undesirable, for happiness is trivial and capricious. Desires are the blood that runs through our hearts, they make us hot in pursuit and spitefully reject the undesirable love, they are the seasons of life, so we should embrace them. But personal integrity needs to oversee our desires, like the reins that restrain a stallion, so we are not led astray and get entangled in petty struggles.

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