That which cannot be pursued

I’m fascinated by cases where, in order to achieve something, it’s better to focus on something else instead. Here’s Viktor Frankl’s take on success and happiness:

“Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause grater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Or, as the main character of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Villette says, in response to the well-meaning advice that she should “cultivate happiness,”

“Happiness is not a potato!”

What do you think? Are Frankl and Brontë right? What else cannot be pursued directly, but must arise as a byproduct of pursuing something else?


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