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Tangible Happiness - a Nietzschean perspective.

There is often a lot of talk of ‘Happiness’. What is it, how to get it, how to live it etc…

It occurred to me the other night, while enjoying a coffee, as the cool autumn chill slinked into the city, that I was neither frustrated nor stressed and perhaps this is what people call ‘Happy’.

I’d just woken from an afternoon nap, rugged up, ridden my motorbike into the city to sit in my regular café and people watch to unwind from the week.

In reflection I was grateful for the life I have; supportive family, the freedom of independence, I am financially stable(ish) and creatively productive.

Pleased, proud and humble, I was. This is when it occurs to me that perhaps this is Happiness?

It may sound odd, but as a ‘creative genius’ I’m normally entertaining multiple projects and wrestling the two-headed demon of self-loathing and ambition.

But this night was not the case... I was at peace, calm, relaxed and laconic.

It was then that it occurred to me that, as a destination, Happiness was lacking… It was a plateau state; nice to visit, but I’m unsure if I could live here. I’d get restless.

I was bored.

Perhaps I’ve been reading too much Nietzsche lately, but allow me to offer a counterpoint to the memes and inspirational quotes.

Happiness is often offered as a salve from hardship – an escape or a Nirvana to exist in indefinitely.

I believe this is a fallacy...

Blissfully ignorant at best...

Morally stunting at worst.

I would suggest that Happiness is attainable, but only in brief periods, when we should enjoy it for what it offers us.

Just as a long sleep in is relished, though we know at some point we are going to need to get out of bed (it doesn't mean breakfast is any less delicious).

In terms of human growth, Happiness is an idle state… relaxing to bathe in, but nothing changes here. Nothing new is found, nothing can be learned, it simply offers comfort.

“What doesn’t kill us,makes us stronger” is attributed to Nietzsche, though it’s context is oft misquoted.

What Nietzsche actually suggested was that, frustration,disappointment, anger, jealousy and resentment are all tangible footholds in scaling the mountain of morality and self-awareness; they offer us focus in self-analysis.


What does not kill us... [but causes us pain]... makes us stronger... [through self-reflection]... and improves us as human beings.

By offering this counterpoint of philosophy I’d seek to soften the mad pursuit to the magical (fleeting) plain of Happy and its shiny cousin, success.

I suggest that Happiness is a need as natural and satisfiable as hunger or sleepiness, though we each individually require the necessary self-reflection to distil what it is precisely that makes each of us Happy.

Nothing of value is without its own toil…. and herein lies true satisfaction.


Christopher. S. Sellers is a Speaker + Author on Creativity + Innovation

Founder + Director of Black Bulb Creative


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