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José Carlos Pons

WWF Mexico

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Wouldn't happiness bring about professional and personal stagnation?

I have not met a human being who does not want to be happy. However, following the argument brought forward by Shawn Anchor, unhappiness is the main driver for continuous personal and professional development, i.e. we are never satisfied with what we have.
In this scenario, would't happiness bring about professional and personal stagnation.


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  • Aug 28 2012: The idea that human beings create better out of some degree of suffering is age-old. Nietzsche practically made this a corner stone of his philosophy. There is a seeming counter-argument that says that people only create the truly worthwhile when inspired. Inspiration and suffering are opposite conditions. Can the two be reconciled?

    Perhaps unhappiness can lead to inspiration. When we are unhappy we can be strongly motivated to do what we see as potentially fulfilling us, and this can drive us to intense focus, hard work, and productivity - even excellence.

    Yet surely there is a better way. The idea that we have to be at least a bit miserable to "do well" is a dismal idea and reflects a fundamental confusion about human motivation. Yes, we are motivated by the prospect of improvement in our state of being when unhappy. But a need for some form of unhappiness or suffering as a motivator only occurs from a certain state of consciousness.

    When we start off in life we are highly egocentric. Our concern is with our wants and needs, our happiness, and our safety. Other people have significance only insofar as they affect our perceived happiness and safety. But with emotional maturity comes true empathy, connection to others, and deep care. The recognition of how deeply we care leads to a sense of devotion to the world and it's collective well-being, and this gives rise to inspiration. The beauty of an idea or effort is seen in terms of it's significance to the world. The potential impact is then sufficient to drive us to greater heights of achievement. And the pursuit of excellence is then characterized by joy. This is what it means to live a life of purpose, and it requires an inner shift based on the recognition of how much we really do care, and how impassioned we actually are about other people.

    Generallly by the time we are adults we are so emotionally scared that this care and commitment is obscure to us, and so we need to heal to find it. Or so it was for me.

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