Knowledge comes before happiness

I hear very often the following: “my goal in life is happiness, not wisdom”.

If your ultimate goal is happiness, then you have to be very clear about three things: what you mean by a goal, what happiness really is for you and third, how to achieve it. That is, without the proper knowledge, you cannot know if the "happiness" you arrive to at certain point in time is the happiness that corresponds to your ultimate goal or it is merely a "demo" version of what could lay far beyond.

Since the concept of "goal" implies that the person uttering it recognizes that their existence has certain intentional purpose, the happiness-seeking fellow is saying that from all the possible goals, there is one that has a special place in his life, which is achieving happiness.

Therefore, it is not consistent to say that your goal is to be happy and at the same time negate the effort and sacrifice that knowledge requires. Unless, of course, what you mean by happiness is to mindlessly and joyfully go about life like swine in a pond of mud. In other words, to lead a life in search of the most immediate pleasures without any effort and sacrifice is just a very particular definition of "happiness" that probably may not be what you think or feel what happiness is.

Happiness is most of the time conflated with mindless immediate pleasure, and I believe this is wrong for two things: first, this puts an arbitrary short time span to seeking the pleasant reward. Why listening to the instincts that tell you that "you must eat that chocolate here and now" instead of paying attention to more time-consuming goals? What is "now" anyway? One hour? One day? Second, this ignores that other forms of pleasure are achieved through usually, effort and sacrifice that is anything but pleasant. For instance, seeing the success of a project where so much hard work was invested, helping a person in need, or in general the satisfaction of doing the right thing even though the process may be painful.

In addition, when you say that happiness is your goal and not wisdom, you are in the dangerous road of not really knowing what you really mean, since "happiness" is a tricky concept and often vague one.

Only when you attain the necessary knowledge you can really say what happiness is and if it really is your goal, so you can act accordingly.
If your ultimate goal is happiness, then knowledge is an unavoidable instrumental one.
Knowledge comes first.


Image from Pixabay

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