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The big idea: why we shouldn’t try to be happy


Gelukkiger worden? Richt je dan niet op je eigen geluk maar op zingeving buiten jezelf, volgens dit goede stuk. “Only those are happy,” John Stuart Mill wrote, “who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.”


“What, then, should we strive for? Not happiness or an ideal life, but to find sufficient meaning in the world that we are glad to be alive, and to cope with grace when life is hard. We won’t achieve perfection, but our lives may be good enough. And not only ours. To live well is to treat not just ourselves but other people as we should. As Mill recognised, the first step in self-help is one that points beyond the self.”

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