Do We Really Seek Happiness?

Katja Grace scratches her chin:

Humanity’s obsession with status and money is often attributed to a misguided belief that these will bring the happiness we truly hunger. Would be reformers repeat the worldview-shattering news that we can be happier just by being grateful and spending more time with our families and on other admirable activities. Yet the crowds begging for happiness do not appear to heed them.

This popular theory doesn’t explain why people are so ignorant after billions of lifetimes of data about what brings happiness, or alternatively why they are helpless to direct their behavior toward it with the information. The usual counterargument to this story is simply that money and status and all that do in fact bring happiness, so people aren’t that silly after all.

Another explanation for the observed facts is that we don’t actually want happiness that badly; we like status and money too even at the expense of happiness.

She has some theories about these contradictions. I have one too. Original sin. Or this from Merton:

"The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows, not by clarity and substance but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about anything."