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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Unhappiness

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In previous section we considered “Useless Dissatisfaction” and “Useful Dissatisfaction” in the terms of the moral obligation parents have to their children to be happy.   But what are some specific impediments to happiness?  As indicated above, it is dangerous to look outside of our skin for happiness, and we should not “give away” our happiness to external circumstances and situations.  If we do, then we would be happy when situations are good, but there will always be an underlying tension due to our lack of control and a tendency to “wait for the other shoe to drop.”  Happiness is both an experience and an achievement, and to experience that achievement a “Maximum Strength Parent” must know, avoid, and overcome obstacles to happiness.  These obstacles include (1) Unrealistic Comparisons, (2) the “Missing Tile Syndrome,” (3) Equating External Success with Happiness, and (4) Allowing Expectations to Undermine Gratitude.  A discussion of each now follows. 

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