Happiness or Compassion?

Is there a choice?

Steven Gambardella
4 min readNov 26, 2020

Empathy can be a wrecking ball.

You switch on the news and you’re in pieces. But it’s up to you if you want to piece yourself together again. The state of the world impinges itself on our emotions, but it needn’t make us unhappy.

There’s a pervasive attitude that compassion and justness are forms of suffering, or must necessarily stem from suffering.

The assumption is that we must suffer if we “care” about people, animals, the ecosystem and so on. We can’t be happy in a world where there are terrible problems. We can even feel guilty for being happy.

I would argue that we must fight this assumption to actually make the world a better place.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post about how the internet enables doom-mongering at unlimited scale.

Lots of comments levelled the accusation that if I’m not panicking about something (let’s say, global warming) then I’m not taking it seriously. So let’s abstract that a level: if I’m not suffering, I’m not a good person.

What really is happiness?

Part of the problem here is that we can fail to understand what happiness really is in the modern world. We can slip into the trap of thinking happiness and compassion…