UPD This post rises some important questions, so I promote it from link-post to the index page for visibility.
The pursuit of happiness defines many parts of my life. Or should I say “happiness”?
SquirrelInHell writes about an unbelievable problem that Happiness Is a Chore
See, the human activity you describe as “pursuing happiness” […] seems to be in the same category as other common activities such as “acquiring education”, “helping people”, “talking to friends” (or should I say “talking” to “friends”) and so on. Which is to say, people do them in a way which is outwardly convincing enough to allow everyone to keep up the social pretenses. This is way different from what you’d see people do if they actually cared. The simple matter of fact is that the human brain is a kludge, and people are puppets dancing on the strings of a mad puppetmaster. Almost anything they claim to be doing isn’t for real. This is true even when they themselves know about this.
This is strongly related to The Thing and the Symbolic Representation of The Thing. (Next quote is still from SquirrelInHell)
[…] I enjoy and see great value in happiness when it happens, but when it doesn’t I only work on it grudgingly. It’s like with exercise, which is great but I’m rarely enthusiastic about starting it. The problem is not that I don’t value happiness enough. The problem is rather that there is no gut-level motivational gradient to get actual happiness. There are gradients for all sorts of things which are crappy, fake substitutes. […] But you still end up optimizing for them, because that’s what your brain does.
↑ This indeed, as one LW commenter points out, looks like akrasia. And will probably benefit from methods that are good against akrasia.
After rereading through everything linked above, I see that, at this moment, I’m focused on riding my hedonic treadmill, solving various optimization problems, and I’m not mindful about it; also not happy. This is a tendency I have. After talking about it with my psychotherapist, I will experiment with making more unsctrutured time and enjoying it; also spending less time on hardcore goal-oriented activities.