Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

Many years ago, I read what should have been a cheery, bite-size Q&A with the writer and academic Slavoj Zizek, on the Guardian website. Question: What makes you depressed? Answer: Seeing stupid people happy. I can think of many things that make me melancholy: war, illness, poverty, injustice, but the happiness of others, even those I may or may not admit to finding a little bit stupid, is certainly not one of them. What could Zizek have possibly meant? More recently, in a webchat on the same news site, his views on happiness were reprised. Is it important to be happy? How does one go about achieving this hallowed state? Zizek’s retort was that humans flail about unsure of what it is we want. Happiness is a fantasy and the pursuit of dreams is what actually makes us happy, not the reality. ‘Happiness is for opportunists. So I think that the only life of deep satisfaction is a life of eternal struggle… If you want to remain happy just remain stupid. Authentic masters are never happy, happiness is a category of slaves.’ This cynical definition of an emotional state that many spend their lives seeking to attain made me chuckle, and also made me a little depressed, not unlike the contemptible notion of aspiration that is so lauded in contemporary society. Surely the balance between contentment and the drive to do better, be better, feel better, is the ultimate zenith?

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