From the #HistoryOfUs series: The Hunt For Happiness, 1863–1868
Everybody wants to achieve happiness. Some people sit quietly waiting for it, other try to tempt their luck, read self-help books about happiness or travel to the world’s happiest countries (Denmark! Norway!). And other people simply go in pursuit of it.
This painting by Rudolf Friedrich August Henneberg shows us where that gets you.
Aching with yearning, he reaches out his hand to Fortuna – sensual symbol of fortune – ignoring everything else ...
death riding along at his side ...
the break in the bridge ...
the girl being trampled under his horse’s hoofs ...
This guy is literally going over dead bodies to get what he wants – even if he kills himself.
And what’s it all for? For an illusion, a bubble that’s about to burst.
What we see here is the pursuit of false happiness, illusion, sex and money as much as possible – all the things that in the end just won't make us happy.
For instance, happiness studies show that money only makes us happy if we haven’t got any. Once our basic needs are met, the happiness curve flattens out the more we earn.
Fortune can‘t be caught. Forget about chasing after it!
Perhaps that wise old Chinaman Lao Tse (6th c. BCE) was right: He said that we will only be happy when we stop chasing after happiness or other goals. Well good luck with that ...
The pursuit of happiness by Rudolf Friedrich August HennebergAlte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz