Kierkegaard and the Pursuit of Happiness

There is an excellent article in the New York Times right now discussing the melancholy spirituality of Soren Kierkegaard, and how no one today “believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit.”

One of the hardest parts of developing spiritually is letting go of the dreams and illusions that allow us to hide from the misery and despair that often lurks within us at a deeper level.

There is abundant chatter today about “being spiritual” but scarcely anyone believes that a person can be of troubled mind and healthy spirit. Nor can we fathom the idea that the happy wanderer, who is all smiles and has accomplished everything on his or her self-fulfillment list, is, in fact, a case of despair. But while Kierkegaard would have agreed that happiness and melancholy are mutually exclusive, he warns, “Happiness is the greatest hiding place for despair.”