In his book Before the Sabbath, Eric Hoffer offered his usual fascinating insights into what he referred to as a priori logic (the logic upon which a priori arguments are based). Among other things, Hoffer wrote:
“A priori logic assumes that people will be happier when they have more. The logic of events shows that we are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.”
Hoffer’s genius shines through in the way he carefully phrased his insight — i.e., that “we are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.”
The person who has all the material things imaginable, but lacks love, is likely to be unhappy. The person who has all the material things imaginable, but lacks friendship, is likely to be unhappy. The person who has all the material things imaginable, but lacks respect, is likely to be unhappy. And so on.
I suspect that this reality is more likely than not the root cause of the early demise of so many famous people in the entertainment industry over the years. Every time I hear another story about today’s young nutcases — Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, the Kardashian sisters, et al — I can almost feel their pain. All of these desperate-for-attention pudding heads come across as excruciatingly unhappy, completely lost souls.
Keep this in mind as you move forward in life. Be happy when you have little, and be happy when you have a lot. You have to make a conscious effort not to focus on that one more thing that you believe will make you happy, because oftentimes you never get it. Thus, one of the most valuable life skills you can develop is to learn to be happy without that “one more thing.”
To paraphrase Woody Allen, the greatest comedic-philosopher of our time, happiness is not having what you want; it’s wanting what you already have. If you focus on what you already have (both material and nonmaterial), no matter how great or how little that may be, you’re a lot less likely to fall into the trap Eric Hoffer wrote about.