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Friday, 18 November 2016

Happy or unhappy, a zero-sum game?

Some people claim that happiness is a choice (eg, Ralph Marston). If that is true then it's one of the hardest choices ever.

I think, feel and believe that this difficult choice is because of a phenomenon called the zero-sum game, in which "each participant's gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participants".

We assume that choosing for our own happiness implies that someone else's happiness will suffer (eg, children, lover, parents, partner). It's hard to imagine that breaking up with someone could cause emotional synergy in which the sum of its (new) parts is greater than the (previous) whole.

There will always be additional reasons for staying in an unhappy situation (eg, relationship, sport, study, work). These reasons have been covered in previous blogs: am I worth it, guilt, regret & remorse, and shame. I think, feel and believe that we - subconsciously - punish ourselves by staying in this unhappy situation. It's related to self-flagellation and/or penance.

There may be another issue, which relates to the difference between altruism and narcissism.

Penance and self-flagellation may feel like altruism to the one who chooses to be unhappy.
Choosing for one's own happiness may feel like egocentrism or - worse - narcissism. A narcissist would have no problem choosing for his/her own happiness and disregard all others in that (zero-sum) happiness equation.

With the knowledge of hindsight, we are likely to find out that breaking-up unhappiness was not a zero-sum game after all. Unhappiness often creates negative synergy. Hence, it's better to be (un)happy alone than unhappy together. Any break-up of an unhappy situation (eg, relationship, sport, study, work) is likely to create positive synergy. I must stress that the same can not be said about breaking-up happiness (eg, sudden death of a loved one).

A choice for happiness should be a choice against unhappiness in order to create a win-win situation, in which "all participants can profit from it in one way or the other".

Happiness and Satisfaction relate to each other like Needs and Wants. A combination of Happiness and Satisfaction is - likely - only to be found in the stage of Beliefs (eg, Less is More). 

Pharrell Williams - Unhappy (Woodkid Sad Remix) - 2014