Happiness and Fear – Are They Mutually Exclusive?

September 26, 2019
Happiness and fear can survive in the same room. However, the absence of fear is the presence of peace. If you stop to think about it, most of our daily fears are imaginary and don't help us out much. Allowing fear to paralyze us is to be chained, limited, and constrained to a small bubble of self-protection.

Eduardo Punset is a rather popular politician who left us a wonderful legacy of human wisdom. Today, we’re going to discuss one of his most revealing and interesting statements. To the suggestion that happiness is the absence of fear, he added that beauty is the absence of pain. Is it true?

Punset reflected on many of the realities of our current world. For instance, the prevailing type of “happiness” that many people pursue. In case you haven’t noticed, this is a very popular word these days. However, it’s also very difficult to define. This is perhaps the first difficulty we encounter when it comes to trying to reach it: we don’t really know what actual happiness is.

“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between humans and nature shall not be broken.”

-Leo Tolstoy-

Some seek happiness by pursuing success or power, while others chase it through love and affection. Others no longer seek it because they’re tired of feeling disappointed. When Eduardo Punset says that happiness is the absence of fear, it gives us a much more realistic and profound perspective. Let’s see why.

Happiness and fear

A woman in the wind.

Surely we’ve all encountered someone who’s satisfied with who and what they are and what they have, even when they’ve suffered great losses. It’s also very likely that you’ve met someone who’s just the opposite: a highly “successful” person who has power, luxuries and the love of many. However, they’re not happy.

As much as most literature out there insist that “happiness is inside us”, we tend to forget it far too often. Thus, we do the opposite. That is, we’re constantly looking for external stimulation as the basis for our happiness because we assume that, when we get it, we’ll live happily ever after.

That external stimuli could be someone to love, an objective, or a certain state of affairs. This is how we subject ourselves to factors that are beyond our control. And we’ve also discovered that, when we’re happy, it’s not as complete as we imagined it.

When Punset says that happiness is the absence of fear, he also points out two things:

  1. That happiness is inside each one of us.
  2. It’s not about having or getting something, but rather about stripping ourselves of the emotions that oppress us.

Can fear exist where there’s happiness?

Punset speaks of the absence of fear in a relative sense. Being afraid isn’t only normal, but also healthy. It’s an emotion that warns us of risks and dangers and gives us an opportunity to prepare for them. However, we sometimes go too far in such preparedness.

It happens when we perceive something that’s not really a threat to us as too risky or dangerous. Why does this happen? It’s generally due to the effects of an education that’s led us to believe it, although it may also be the result of some sort of psychological conflict we’ve yet to resolve.

Anyway, many times we carry a cluster of imaginary fears that oppress us and don’t allow us to be happy. It’s even possible that we’ll end up fearing happiness and run away from it when we catch a glimpse of it. This is because we’re afraid and, thus, we restrict ourselves unnecessarily. We reject any positive experiences because we fear the pain they may bring us.

Eradicating fear

A woman in front of a broken mirror.

Punset was right when he said happiness is the absence of fear. Mainly, freeing ourselves from imaginary fears will afford us the freedom to experience life to the fullest. It also makes it possible for us to express our being and overcome those rigid limits in which we voluntarily confine ourselves for fear of going beyond it.

Eduardo Punset says that if someone wants to be happy, they must first reflect on their fears. What exactly are you afraid of? Why do you fear that? These are simple questions that you’ll be able to answer if you’re fully honest with yourself. They may even lead you to realize that these are fears you’re not interested in facing.

An absence of fear brings inner peace. You must stop deciding your life based on imaginary dangers and substitute silly fears for self-confidence. You’ll also experience a feeling of peace that will help you flow in all situations. How can you leave behind those daily fears that don’t let you fly? Well, that’s a topic for another article.

  • Reguillo, R. (1998). Imaginarios globales, miedos locales: la construcción social del miedo en la ciudad. Ponencia presentada en el IV Encuentro de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Investigadores de la Comunicación. ALAIC.“Ciencias de la Comunicación: Identidades y Fronteras”. Universidad Católica de Pernambuco, Recife, Brasil, 11-16.