In his quintessential book, The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama wrote the following:
We need to learn how to want what we have, not to have what we want in order to get steady and stable Happiness.
And the wise man might just have been proved right by science.
According to neuroscientist Jaak Panskepp, it is the road to happiness, rather than the act of reaching the destination, which is what makes us happy.
Referred to as the “rat tickler” for his work with studying animals and laughter, the neuroscientist claims that the fulfillment of our desires may not cause happiness in the long run.
Talking at TEDx, he outlined seven Primal Emotions: play, panic, care, lust, fear, rage and seeking.
The last one – seeking – appears to govern our happiness.
Panskepp asserts that dopamine, which is a chemical found in the brain linked with pleasure, is connected to the seeking instinct, and the more we explore and seek new information, the more our brain releases dopamine, causing a reward effect.
Jason Silva, philosopher and creator of the YouTube series Shots of Awe, cited a book by historian and philosopher James P. Carse, about life in a recent video:
Finite games are played to win or lose; infinite games are played to keep the game going.
It is no longer about black and white…it’s to keep the game going...it’s not about conquering, it’s about continuing to exist, to contemplate.
Previous studies on the subject of happiness have shown that it is not wealth or power that makes one happy, but the constant seeking and maintenance of quality relationships.