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We are too tired to be happy

by - 22 March

Part of my interview with the Oxford scholar and thinker Theodore Zeldin on why happiness is an illusion:

You said that for a man to be happy he should be blind? Why is that?
I once wrote a book about happiness in which I imagine a young woman obtaining a visa to visit to Paradise. She visited all the people in Paradise and asked: "Are you happy"? All the people she met in Paradise were real historical people. Most of the people in Paradise were too tired to be happy. They just wanted to sleep. I think most people are now too tired. So what happiness means is how to get out of the stress of life. Even if people get what they want, their lives are not complete. So you might say you're very happy - you've got two children, and a dog, and a house. And that is all you want from life but you're only half alive and you haven't been fully alive and it seems to me that happiness is a dream. You cannot be happy if you see that in most of the world there is so much misery and so much poverty. How can you be happy if you think only about yourself? Is it is not happiness, it is illusion. Because when I see all these millions of people which's homes have been destroyed and they have done nothing wrong and then an airplane comes and drops the bomb on their home it is absolutely tragedy. It's ridiculous. How can anybody in the world be happy with what is going on now?

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