❝Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you have was once among the things you only hoped for.❞ -Epicurus
I'm sitting at my grandma and grandpa's kitchen table, drinking hot chocolate and playing with their calculator. It's 1995, and I'm thinking about what it would be like to make a lot of money. I think of a huge number and imagine how it would be possible to spend so much money. $3,000 in a single month! Who can spend that? I type $3,000 into the calculator and multiply by 12 to see how much that would be per year. $36,000 per year! If I could make $36,000 per year, I would definitely be happy.
Twelve years later, it's 2007, and I make more than $36,000. In fact, my starting salary two years ago was $35,000. I've realized my dreams! However, I'm not happy. I'm not happy because I have bills to pay. I'm not happy because my coworkers make a lot more than I do. I'm not happy because I'm a cubicle jockey with a low-level job title. I start to study for various professional designations so that I could increase my salary, get a better job title, and have an office. If I had a fancy title, a nice office, and made six figures, then I would definitely be happy.
Ten years later, it's 2017, and I'm setting up shop in my new office. It's my first day at my new job where I have a fancy title and a high salary. I feel pretty good about myself, but a week later, I've already gotten used to it. I'm already starting to take the job for granted. In fact, it's even worse because it turns out to be an awful job working for an awful person. Maybe if I had a different job and a different boss, then I would definitely be happy.
You can see where this is going. Whenever I set a target and achieved it, I got used to it. My subconscious strategy for happiness was to try to get what I wanted. Though it turns out I already had what I needed to be happy.
YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY
If you ask many people what they want out of life or what they want for their children, you will get an overwhelming response of happiness. People want their children to be happy. People want to be happy themselves. Although people's behavior may not imply this, many would articulate that happiness is important.