You’re Not Meant to Be Happy … and That’s a Good Thing

Happiness is temporary but the pursuit of our values provides long-lasting benefits.

Nir Eyal
4 min readJan 12, 2021


Photo by Lidya Nada on Unsplash

Happiness is a myth — at least if you look at it the way most people do.

Most people see happiness as something they can have under certain conditions, for example:

  • Having lots of friends
  • Living in a beautiful place
  • Getting recognized for accomplishments

Whatever they’re chasing, they’re constantly running on a script that goes, “If only I had _____, then I could be happy.”

Almost everyone follows this pattern, even though we should know better.

After all, we know money can’t buy happiness. We’ve seen how celebrities, seemingly on top of the world, fall victim to all kinds of problems and seem anything but happy. We’ve also been told, over and over again, that people are often unhappy, no matter how good their circumstances are.

Yet, we keep acting like our dissatisfaction would vanish if only.

If only we had the right spouse, the right house, the right friends, the right job, and the right government, then we’d be satisfied and happy.

The Truth About Happiness

Here’s the truth: none of those things can make you happy.

Your government can’t make you happy.

Your partner can’t make you happy.

Your friends can’t make you happy.

These things can only remove sources of unhappiness.

For example, loneliness is a source of unhappiness. If you’re lonely, the pain of loneliness will motivate you to alleviate it. You’ll look for friends, go on dates, and do other things to connect with people.

Eventually, you’ll no longer be lonely. But then, you’ll see other problems.

Your friends gossip about you. Your partner snores. Your co-workers bore you to tears. Since people aren’t perfect, your relationships will alleviate loneliness, but they won’t make life perfect. Boredom, sleep deprivation, and gossip…



Nir Eyal

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