In a previous life, when I had a small step-son, he asked his mother if she was “happy at him.” This prompted a grammar discussion that confused him because sometimes she was “mad at him” so why was “happy at him” wrong? It stuck with me as one of those out of the mouths of babes views of life.
It prompts a bit of thought about which emotions go with which propositions. We’re happy with, but mad at. On the other hand, we can be angry with or angry at someone, but only pleased with them.
We can also be happy, glad, angry, pleased, mad, or sad, about someone.
A few weeks ago a friend loaned me The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (2016), by Mark Manson. I just finished it, and — while I’m not a big fan of self-help books — I give this one an Ah! rating. Manson’s approach, contrary to our modern norm, is not about finding happiness, but about choosing the pain worth seeking (and letting the happiness come through our fulfillment).
The subtle part is that not giving a f*ck doesn’t mean one stops caring. The subtle part is learning to be selective about what matters to us.
The counterintuitive part is that chasing happiness leads to misery.