Religion & Happiness

It is impossible to reach a state of full happiness. “Happiness is a problem of the economics of the individual’s libido,” Freud states. Each individual must identify the type of happiness most important to him as well as the capacity of his own mental constitution to experience happiness. Adaptation to the external environment is also key to a maximum yield of pleasure.

Religion reduces these variables by dictating a simple path to happiness. It thereby spares the masses of their individual neuroses, but Freud sees little of value in religion beyond this. If the believer realizes that religion has put such a constraint on the possibilities of his happiness, his only option becomes to find pleasure in “unconditional submission” to his faith. But Freud remarks that such a self-aware individual could most likely find other, less arduous paths to happiness.

-Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

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