The growth of the assiduous pursuit of pleasure in the modern world is intimately connected to a population that is exposed to an unrelenting frenzy of media saturation marketing. It has spawned the ‘I want it all; I want it now’ generation which, in turn, has spawned an explosion of needy people, some of whom need to be kept at arm’s length. There are now highly narcissistic people from all walks of life who can be fun and stimulating, along with their co-dependent or co-narcissistic companions, but their neediness will far outweigh any gains in happiness for those who get too close to them.
Almost all of us are now exposed continuously to advertisements that convince us erroneously that we need to buy, to indulge or to consume the instant gratification they offer with their products and services. They push down the throats of an increasingly young audience a cocktail of junk advertisements through every form of media. They convince an unquestioning public that wasting their money on activities that offer instant gratification is the route to happiness–money that many don’t even have!
The well-educated, intelligent and enterprising marketing experts do an outstanding job for their company bosses, whose often sole objective is the pursuit of profit for their shareholders, but it is at the considerable expense of creating a new generation that is less happy than the previous one. The current cohort of young and middle aged people is less happy than their predecessors, the populations of the 1950s and 60s, despite having three times their wealth.
If we can understand the difference between pleasure and happiness, recognize the people we need to keep at arm’s length, narcissists for example, and distinguish and then embrace the behaviour that will lead us to wisdom, we may be able to turn the tide and become even happier than our predecessors were. Wisdom is the science of happiness.