Happiness and Desire

Sometimes you might feel a moment or two of happiness right after getting something you want. Contrary to popular opinion, however, this is not because your desire was fulfilled, but because you took your attention off what you didn’t have. The moment you switch gears and return your focus of attention to something else you want, or don’t have, you will lose your sense of well-being and feel discontent. Your mind will again begin searching for something outside itself to gain satisfaction — perpetuating the cycle of unhappiness.

If obtaining a desire — any desire — could be the cause of a feeling of happiness, we would all be happy already. But remember the countless times you have received what you wanted, yet didn’t remain happy. I am not speaking of avoiding goals or desires. Happiness must come first. Anything that develops out of this happiness is wonderful, but fulfilled desire alone does not create happiness.

— Richard Carlson, PhD, You Can Be Happy No Matter What, p. 124

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