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Don't seek happiness. If you seek it, you won't find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness.


Misfortune always comes to those who wait. The trick is to find happiness in the brief gaps between disasters.


My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Acceptance is the key to everything.

MICHAEL J. FOX, Esquire, Dec. 2007

To while away the day contemplating evils that might have been is to poison the happiness we already have.


Men of warm imaginations and towering thoughts are apt to overlook the goods of fortune which are near them, for something that glitters in the sight at a distance; to neglect solid and substantial happiness for what is showy and superficial; and to contemn that good which lies within their reach, for that which they are not capable of attaining. Hope calculates its schemes for a long and durable life; presses forward to imaginary points of bliss; grasps at impossibilities; and consequently very often ensnares men into beggary, ruin, and dishonour.

JOSEPH ADDISON, The Spectator, Nov. 13, 1712

If you wish to be happy, think not of what is to come nor of that which you have no control over but rather of the now and of that which you are able to change.


But, O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man's eyes!


Good relationships make people happy, and happy people enjoy more and better relationships than unhappy people.... Conflicts in relationships--having an annoying office mate or roommate, or having chronic conflict with your spouse--is one of the surest ways to reduce your happiness. You never adapt to interpersonal conflict; it damages every day, even days when you don't see the other person but ruminate about the conflict nonetheless.

JONATHAN HAIDT, The Happiness Hypothesis

The best type of affection is reciprocally life-giving: each receives affection with joy and gives it without effort, and each finds the whole world more interesting in consequence of the existence of this reciprocal happiness. There is, however, another kind, by no means uncommon, in which one person sucks the vitality of the other, one receives what the other gives, but gives almost nothing in return. Some very vital people belong to this bloodsucking type. They extract the vitality from one victim after another, but while they prosper and grow interesting, those upon whom they live grow pale and dim and dull.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, The Conquest of Happiness

When people say that they are happy with their lives, they do not usually mean that they are literally joyful, or experiencing pleasure, all the time. They mean that, upon reflection on the balance sheet of pleasures and pains, they feel the balance to be reasonably positive over the long term.

DANIEL NETTLE, Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile

You know what made us the biggest, meanest, Big Mac eating, calorie-counting, world-dominating kick-ass powerhouse country in the history of the human race? The pursuit of happiness. Not happiness. The pursuit.


All natural happiness thus seems infected with a contradiction. The breath of the sepulchre surrounds it.

WILLIAM JAMES, The Varieties of Religious Experience

Happiness in the present moment consists of very different states from happiness about the past and about the future, and itself embraces two very distinct kinds of things: pleasures and gratifications. The pleasures are delights that have clear sensory and strong emotional components, what philosophers call "raw feels"; ecstasy, thrills, orgasm, delight, mirth, exuberance, and comfort. They are evanescent, and they involve little, if any, thinking. The gratifications are activities we very much like doing, but they are not necessarily accompanied by any raw feelings at all. Rather, the gratifications engage us fully, we become immersed and absorbed in them, and we lose self-consciousness. Enjoying a great conversation, rock climbing, reading a good book, dancing, and making a slam dunk are all examples of activities in which time stops for us, our skills match the challenge, and we are in touch with our strengths. The gratifications last longer than the pleasures, they involve quite a lot of thinking and interpretation, they do not habituate easily, and they are undergirded by our strengths and virtues.

MARTIN E. P. SELIGMAN, Authentic Happiness

We all have direct experience with things that do or don't make us happy, we all have friends, therapists, cabdrivers, and talk-show hosts who tell us about things that will or won't make us happy, and yet, despite all this practice and all this coaching, our search for happiness often culminates in a stinky mess. We expect the next car, the next house, or the next promotion to make us happy even though the last ones didn't and even though others keep telling us that the next ones won't.

DANIEL GILBERT, Stumbling on Happiness

When happiness was a matter of pleasure, and pleasure a matter of taste, one could be happy simply by rolling in filth.

DARRIN M. MCMAHON, Happiness: A History

If happiness is a state of the inward life, we have to look for its chief obstructions not in outward conditions but in deeper places. Happiness depends in the last issue, as we saw, on the essential view of life. It is not a matter of distractions, nor even of mere pleasurable sensations. There may be an appearance of great prosperity with incurable sadness hidden at the heart, as there is an outward peace which is only a well-masked despair. The way to happiness is indeed harder than the way to success; for its chief enemies entrench themselves within the soul.

HUGH BLACK, Happiness

We find that the more a cultivated reason devotes itself to the aim of enjoying life and happiness, the further does man get away from true contentment.

IMMANUEL KANT, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals

Nothing, not even a Utopia, can necessarily make the pursuit of happiness a successful one that ends in capture. The best society can merely allow every individual to flourish in the pursuit.

DANIEL NETTLE, Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile

We have all had the experience of being happy and of being unhappy, and we have all observed happiness and unhappiness in other people. As a result, many people feel they are experts on the topic of happiness. This claimed expertise, however, is often illusory. There is a natural tendency for us to assume that what is true of our lives is generally true of other people's lives. Thus, if someone has discovered that he is happier in the married state than he was when he was single, he may conclude that marriage increases human happiness. On the other hand, someone whose level of happiness has gone down after marriage may well decide that marriage is an outmoded happiness-demolishing institution. The fallacy in attempting to draw general conclusions solely on the basis of one's own experience is obvious.

MICHAEL W. EYSENCK, Happiness: Facts and Myths

Happiness, like every other emotional state, has blindness and insensibility to opposing facts given it as its instinctive weapon for self-protection against disturbance. When happiness is actually in possession, the thought of evil can no more acquire the feeling of reality than the thought of good can gain reality when melancholy rules. To the man actively happy, from whatever cause, evil simply cannot then and there be believed in. He must ignore it; and to the bystander he may then seem perversely to shut his eyes to it and hush it up.

WILLIAM JAMES, The Varieties of Religious Experience

I believe that happiness can be found. If I thought otherwise, I should be silent and not make unhappiness the more bitter by discussing it.

KARL HILTY, Happiness: Essays on the Meaning of Life

I can at once become happy anywhere, for he is happy who has found himself a happy lot. In a word, happiness lies all in the functions of reason, in warrantable desires and virtuous practice.


If you're in a hurry to find happiness, slow down. Give it a chance to catch up with you.

ERNIE J. ZELINSKI, The Lazy Person's Guide to Happiness

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