The Cure to Unhappiness
Bertrand Russel in the Conquest of Happiness states that most people are unhappy, due to a self-absorption in which people pursue their passions inwardly and not outwardly. The way to be happy is to have a genuine interest outside of one’s self, and this happy life is the same as the good life. Unhappiness can be found everywhere, from a busy street to a main road on the weekend. People who pretend to be happy will eventually get bored with themselves because their interests are not genuine. Russel exemplifies this by picturing wealthy people in cars, each “engaged in the pursuit of pleasure” (174) and “absorbed in the desire to pass other cars” (174) and to “those who are not themselves driving, unutterable boredom seizes upon them and stamps their features with trivial discontent.” (174) There are many reasons as to why people are unhappy, but when there isn’t an obvious external cause, it is unbearable and seems inescapable. The way to cure this unhappiness is to do as Russel did. He discovered the things he most desired, gradually acquired many of these things and dismissed certain objects of desire. Mainly, he diminished his preoccupation with himself. This preoccupation, called self-absorption, can take different forms. The main self-absorbed people are: the sinner, the narcissist, and the megalomaniac. For each of these Russel proposes a reason, a symptom, and a cure to their unhappiness. The sinner is not the one who commits sins, but the one who is constantly self-conscious about his sins. He’s taught since birth that he shouldn’t engage in drinking, cheating, and sexual activities. Yet these are the ‘sins’ that attract him the most. So, of course, he does them and feels utterly guilty afterward. The only way for him to find happiness is to liberate himself from these routed beliefs. The narcissist admires himself and seeks admiration from others. When in excess, it is bad. In the case of some women, typically rich society...
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