The author discusses people’s hunt for happiness. He derives her argument from the beliefs and practices of Buddhism. According to her argument, it is evident that human beings rely on the externals of the world to derive happiness. The author confirms that it is futile to derive happiness from riches. It is evident from the story of the rich king from Jerusalem in Ecclesiastes; minimum happiness is derived from wealth.
The Buddhists believe in gaining happiness from within. According to their belief, human beings should not have an emotional attachment to worldly materials. This is because pain is realized upon loss. Still, short-lived happiness is realized after success. Human beings toil hard to gain wealth and fail to gain eternal happiness under the sun. The author compares it to chasing the wind and gaining nothing.
According to the author, human beings dwell on a hedonic treadmill. They are always on the run in order to acquire more and more. Gaining more wealth does not change our level of happiness but the level of expectation. The western people have adhered to the Buddhism belief, and many have experienced happiness. Although happiness should be derived from within, external sources such as relations maintain it. Therefore, according to the author happiness originates from within and comes from without.
According to this book, happiness gained from material attachments is achieved at certain moments shortly. The author discusses the progress and adaptation principles that illustrate it. Progress principle shows that human beings derive more happiness from the path towards achieving the goal than achieving the goal. According to her, the joy of achievement is short-lived, and one is back to tranquil conditions.
Adaptation principle illustrates that the human mind is sensitive to changes. Therefore, people eventually get used to the situation they are newly exposed. People strive continually to acquire wealth expecting to gain happiness and satisfaction. It is futile because wealth acquisition cannot modify the human’s normal state of tranquility. People’s expectations are raised due to the acquisition of wealth.