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Happiness33: Daniel on Happiness


Welcome to Season Six!

As you might recall, Season Six is dedicated to hearing the truth according to Daniel Mackler. Why? Because I said so. And I said so because I think he’s smart.

In today’s episode Daniel talks about why he’s really not at all into the idea of “happiness,” and thinks it’s a bit “ewww” that I call myself a “happiness consultant.”

He also touches on other things like addiction, success, dissociation, honesty and the true self.

One more note about the way we’re playing the “Season Six Game:”

After 12 Daniel-episodes (3 shows for each of WWA’s 4 threads), there will be a final interview on each thread, inspired by questions and comments from the audience.  As you’re listening to the next several conversations, please feel free to send me your criticisms, reactions and thoughts (via email or by posting a comment on and I’ll ask Daniel to respond to your feedback.

And in other news, did you notice that it’s almost spring?


7 comments to Happiness33: Daniel on Happiness

  • kara tennis

    So many of the ideas he says here seem spot-on or at least thought-provoking in really valuable ways. I’m looking forward to whatever’s next. And i liked your thought at the end that “fake” happiness can teach us about real (by your definition) happiness.

  • kara tennis

    I realized this morning that I want to add another (very personal) two cents’ worth in response to some of what Daniel said.

    I’ve had more than seven intensive years of being painfully focused on vulnerable growth and change. Although mountains have moved, I’m not as free as it seems I should be of many of the childish ego-pretenses that helped me survive the woundings of early life. I’m sure that, because of the kind of person I am, I’ll keep right on until I die feeling those wounded, triggered feelings way more frequently than I’d like to. But so be it. I refuse to live in constant grim pursuit of a kind of clarified selfhood that I have the consciousness to perceive very deeply, but will never be able to actually live in.

    Both in spite of and because of my flaws, radical self-acceptance is my goal. I want greater comfort with my lesser aspects. My truest self’s truest wish is to truly embrace my less-true self just as it is. Please please Dear Universe: bring me more peace, even if it sometimes comes from numbness and distraction….

  • Just wanting to be sure of what I heard and that it is what Daniel meant to say. He seems to draw a very close link between societal definitions for happiness and success so much so as to equate them.

  • How about we define happiness as “the thing that it is the point of life to pursue” and then we just disagree about what that thing is?

    Also, a side note, being happy with something and feeling happy seem to be somewhat different things, there’s probably something to be learned in comparing the two.

    I like honesty consultant. It seems like you’re preposing a certain “brand” of happiness, and that “brand” is honesty.

  • No one used the word “fulfillment.” Is that not what one feels when one is living fully as an individual, or using the word, fulfilling one’s purpose in life? Finding one’s purpose, their real true purpose, not society’s construct of such, or societal/familial expectations, that is the purpose of a life. Happiness? It has become an empty and loaded word, for our society has stripped it of value by devaluing that which is important. We could reclaim the word, but I think it may be better to use a different word, as the “pursuit of happiness,” at least to me, is an empty goal.

    Perhaps you mean “joy”? I bet Daniel would say “ew” to that word, too. ;-)

    I’m basically an angry, unhappy person, but I do feel joy on a daily basis. How’s that? A beautiful sunset and sunrise, the greenness of the grass on a day like today when it’s gray and drizzling, making something beautiful with my hands. . .all that is joyful.

    It’s not either/or. I can feel the pain of the wrongs of my life and the world and still feel joy. Happiness? I don’t know, quite frankly, but it’s not my pursuit.

  • Erica

    Hmm. I’m wondering if the different to reactions and various definitions of happiness comes a little bit from background. Because I feel like actually happiness is defined in Amy’s way by certain people. Daniel’s prime interactions are with people who define happiness differently. Also, he’s coming from a world where dishonest happiness is privileged over dealing with pain, whereas Amy is coming from a world (Bryn Athyn, anyway) where emotional/mental pain (often unhealthy!) is privileged, and simple pleasures are looked down on, even shamed.

    I don’t know. I’d rather have a bunch of happy high people than emotional self-flagellates.

    I also think you can make the decision to enter into what Daniel has deemed dishonest happiness conciously and honestly. You have to have a balance, and a love, a softness, an acceptance for yourself – ALL of yourself – before you can deal with all the messy stuff.

    I agree with the idea that you can learn about “true” happiness from “fake” happiness. Personally, I like thinking about it as long-term vs. short-term happiness, rather than real or fake. You just do what you gotta do. I don’t think you’re tricking people.

  • Paul

    Brilliant discussion. I don’t think I’ve heard Daniel talk about the ‘everything’s fine’ view of the reality of the world situation. I’m referring to a previous podcast where Amy and Kara talk about perception of the simultaneous truth that the world is all doom and gloom and totally f**cked and that the world is perfectly fine unfolding in the only way that it can. Perhaps something of Amy’s version of happiness that she wants to retain is associated with this ‘just fine’ view of the world. Perhaps Daniel doesn’t see such a view of the world as true.

    Implicit in some of what Daniel says seems to be a belief in the actual reality of an idea of how the world should be and while this is perhaps compatible with the doom and gloom ‘worldview’ it is perhaps not compatible with the fine as it is worldview.

    Above, Kara pleads to the universe for more peace but in a way peace is more painful and boring than conflict. Do I really want peace? In having something to fight for or against there is the possibility of more and more pleasure, joy, understanding even if deeper pain is necessarily part of that. Is to want peace to want an end to that struggle? Is it not in the nature of the universe and everything to be unlimited and therefore to try to limit the depth of joy and sorrow with peace just another campaign against the unbearable truth of the unlimited? Or something.

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