I’m sure at this point you must be laughing quietly to yourself at the absurdity of talking about such a text. After all, if you did your research you would find the book itself is older than the Bible and its inception is clouded by mystery. The writing is unclear and poetic, while also very much of an umbrella gospel as it seems to cover everything under the sun with enigmatic language. But, regardless of its age or its complexities, I think that we can all take something away from the writings; namely that a good life is marked by balance.
What I mean to get at is this: the idea that happiness is the solution to the human plight is as outlandish an idea that all hate could be eradicated in the world. Allow me to explain. The Tao teaches that for every good (or what we as humans call good) there is a bad, something to balance it. So, some examples might be as follows: to Hunger there is fullness; to Happiness there is Sorrow; to Peace there is Violence.
What we find then, is that a good life is not found just in peace, or in happiness, or in fullness, but rather in a middle-ground between the two poles. If one wished to find a Western example of such teachings, one could look to the Epicureans who taught of moderate hedonism -- or the indulging (in moderation) in pleasure. Pleasure is something that allows humans to thrive, but indulging in purely just pleasure man would not flourish.
So, in a very long winded way, we arrive at my point. We see so much violence in the world and so much hate because it sells on the TV or in the newspaper, but I wonder, is there enough love to balance all this hate? Have we strayed too far from the balance of things that we have thrown a branch into the spokes of life, causing mayhem and destruction? Or, is there a true balance that each of us strikes up daily either through the love that swells in our breasts for others or the small acts of kindness which go unnoticed due to their uninteresting congenial nature? Either way, let us not forget the idea of balance, for I think that it is paramount to our livelihood, even if I do not denominate myself a Taoist or a Buddhist or a Christian.
Happiness is not the answer, but neither is self-pity and sadness. Let us look to strike a balance between the two. It is not evil or vile to be happy; rather it is normal, so long as you don’t shy away from the idea of being sad now and then. Because in the balance we strike, in that grey space where black and white intermingle and fade, that is where we find contentment. That is where a good life exists.