12/14/2011 12:23 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2012

7 Happiness Theories I Reject

Every Wednesday is "Tip Day," or "List Day."

As audacious as it may seem to contradict venerable figures such as John Stuart Mill, Flaubert, or Sartre, I disagree with some of their views about the nature of happiness.

Flaubert: "To be stupid, and selfish, and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness; though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless." I argue that this is Happiness Myth No. 1: Happy people are annoying and stupid.

Vauvenargues: "There are men who are happy without knowing it." Heartily disagree. My Fourth Splendid Truth is "I'm not happy unless I think I'm happy." Or as Eugene Delacroix wrote, "He was like a man owning a piece of ground in which, unknown to himself, a treasure lay buried. You would not call such a man rich, neither would I call happy the man who is so without realizing it."

Eric Hoffer: "The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness."

Sartre: "Hell is other people." (Actually, hell is other people, but heaven is other people, too.)

Willa Cather: "One cannot divine nor forecast the conditions that will make happiness; one only stumbles upon them..."

Alexander Smith: "We are never happy; we can only remember that we were so once." My Eighth Splendid Truth is "Now is now"; it means many things, but among other things, it reminds you to remember the happiness that is here and now.

John Stuart Mill: "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so." (I reject this statement, but I would agree "Ask yourself whether you are happy on a scale from one to five, and you cease to be so." For me, at least, trying to make those kinds of tricky judgments diminishes happiness -- I find it very difficult to answer a question like that -- while the simple question, "Am I happy?" contributes to happiness.)

How about you? Do you agree or disagree with these theories?

* I found a lot of great material on Greatist.

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