Monday, April 6, 2009


happiness, happy, anhedonia, pursuit, tragedy, loss
or, You Have Issues

I have to say this: If you react to "go ahead, be happy!" the same way I would react to "go ahead, molest children!" YOU. HAVE. ISSUES.

In fact, you probably have anhedonia, the inability to gain pleasure from enjoyable experiences. This is a serious psychiatric condition. If you find yourself unable to obtain any pleasure at all from experiences that you previously found enjoyable, please get help.

I suspect that anhedonia is the cause of this:

Given this, you can understand my struggle with the “pursuit of happiness” made famous by the authors of the Declaration of Independence. For me this phrase has carried hedonistic baggage. It smacks of self-gratification, or in the words of Francis Schaeffer, “personal peace and prosperity.” What exactly did Jefferson, Adams and Franklin have in mind when they penned these famous words?

One of the reasons I can maintain the ability to be happy in the midst of so much physical suffering is a scene I witnessed in high school. My high school boyfriend's mother died, and after the funeral, my boyfriend, his sister, a few other family members and myself stood in front of the church and they all told stories about his mother. The older relatives told stories from their youths, the younger from much more recently. I found myself shocked to realize we were all laughing. The stories were funny (his mother was quite the character), but how could everyone be laughing mere minutes after mourning her loss?

Then I realized something: life is for the living. And the living laugh. The living feel joy, experience happiness, and more than that, the living seek it out. Even in the midst of tragedy, humans can find happiness and laughter.

Find the joy, my friends. It's what life is for.


  1. Laugh or cry baby! So says the Great Bunny!


  2. Since leaving christianity, I've become an utter hedonist.

    It really is the happier way to live.

  3. I can't imagine not seeking out happiness. What a bleak way to live. It's sad, really.

  4. Ah, the ol' lack of understanding in order to paint your opponents as somehow evil trick...

    "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," has nothing to do with selfish hedonism. They're kind of the focal point of the anti-monarchy stance of the Enlightenment. Freedom to pursue happiness says that you, as a citizen, are allowed to seek after your own life goals instead of doing what the king says and believing as the king believes.

    Of course that in and of itself is a sin in the eyes of those who fervently believe we all need to believe in a Heavenly king. Really, it's a little sad that more than two hundred years after the American and French Revolutions we're still fighting the battles of the Enlightenment.

  5. If only we all had some basic understanding of history.

    It's a little disturbing when one's reaction to "happy" is "you evil hedonist!"

  6. Well these are the same types of people who refer to themselves as wicked, sinful people who deserve hell but because of Jesus being nailed to some big wooden cross, they don't have to actually go there.

    Someone sent me a link to this documentary about a young woman (13 I think) who really believed she was a wicked, wicked person just like everyone else. That really brought home just how twisted religion can be.

    So much damn guilt, for such a shitty reason.

    I also watched Jesus Camp which made me want to kill myself. (but the Great Bunny says that’s bad because we’re not allowed to just give up on life because of someone else’s massive stupidity. If we did, the stupid people would inherit the earth and who would worship the Great Bunny then.)

  7. I appreciate your comments about your boy-friend's mother, and celebrating her life, and the character she is. Funerals are really for the living--a good place to celebrate life, even when we're really sad and missing the person who is gone.

    Do you mind if I throw in my 2 cents? With regards to the pursuit of happiness--

    I think "happiness" gets mixed up with "pleasure," all too often. Pleasure can be bought, while happiness can be found in even the humblest of circumstances. I know many people who spend endless amounts of time, energy, and money, pursuing pleasure, which never seems to last. Please don't missunderstand--I don't believe pleasure is necessarily a bad thing--it's just that I've known people who were happy and peaceful, even during less-than pleasurable circumstances, and I've known others who seemed to have everything going for them--popularity, money, possessions, and yet they never seemed truly happy and content. True happiness and joy are worth the pursuit.

    Please pardon me for quoting a snippet of scripture on this sight. I realize it might not be well-received, but here goes, anyway:

    ". . .Men are that they might have joy."

  8. Yes, I learned a lot from that day. It's helped me more than I ever would have realized at the time.

    Happiness is simple. Babies do it. Dogs do it. And if you ever get confused about it, watch a baby or a dog for a while. You'll realize that happiness can be found in a million tiny things that are so easy to overlook: a cloud that looks like a duck, the first flowers of spring, a sunny day, a stranger's smile.

    In fact, the poorest people in the US (well, sort of) are the happiest overall: Puerto Ricans. Over 56% of PRs fall below the poverty line, but they are far happier, according to surveys, than the majority of USians.

  9. You'll realize that happiness can be found in a million tiny things that are so easy to overlook: a cloud that looks like a duck, the first flowers of spring, a sunny day, a stranger's smile.

    or in the case of my dog, something new to pee on ;)

    I agree, I think this person did mix up happiness and pleasure. Very good point.


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