The word ‘happiness’ did not appear in English until the 16th century. It derives from the much older word ‘hap’, meaning ‘chance’ or ‘good luck’. We see it still in ‘haphazard’, ‘hapless’, ‘mishap’, ‘perhaps’ and so on.

Today everyone is discussing happiness again, yet for 100 years it was not a fashionable thing to do. In the 20th century, after the two world wars, the subject became almost taboo among serious Western writers. Politicians, psychologists and philosophers avoided the term. Maybe they feared its use might brand them as naive, lightweight or idealistic. Or lacking in military toughness! ...


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