Emotions are predominantly the domain of psychology. Rightly so. Considering the fact that psychology as a scientific discipline deals with the mind, the psyche of an individual, and emotions that occur "inside" an individual, it's not surprising that this discipline has taken the lead in dealing with this topic. However, alongside the fact that emotions are internal to individuals, we must not lose sight of the fact that the same individual realizes themselves within the frameworks of their own actions, which are organized as part of some form of social life. In that context, as much as emotions are internal, we must adjust and direct them towards what is external – other people, various phenomena, institutions, social roles, victories, and defeats. Therefore, along with psychology, sociology stands shoulder to shoulder in the primacy of dealing with emotions as a type of social fact.

By the unfair failure of an exam, I am angry at the professor, but I will conceal this anger due to the situational limitations on the expression of anger. Certainly, in my anger, I will not curse at him – not because I am an individual in myself, but because I am an individual by society. The etiology of my personality is social, so emotions are largely regulated by social forces. Ultimately, cursing at the professor in anger is not polite. In a characteristic way, emotions are subordinate to the discomfort of culture (see Freud, 2002) and society. Precisely because of society, a person is guided not only by affect but also by rationality. However, as society situationally regulates certain emotions, it also encourages, suppresses, or even changes them in the very understanding. Social narratives, therefore, can direct us towards some emotions and away from others.

In societies that are predominantly consumerist, that is, where the market and consumerism prevail, this is especially true regarding two emotions – happiness and satisfaction. In this text, therefore, we will pay more attention to the social construction (and ultimately the critique) of these two emotions within the framework of today's consumer society.

In consumer societies, according to Fromm, we follow two basic principles – radical hedonism and egocentrism. Radical hedonism is largely related to the question of satisfaction, while egocentrism is focused on resolving the question of happiness. However, the paradox lies in the fact that both principles invert the basic idea of humanity regarding both happiness and satisfaction. These two feelings are closely connected, but also separated in the process of their realization. While on one hand, satisfaction is achieved through the moment, most often consumption, happiness needs to be realized as something within an individual as an accumulated set of satisfactions that merge into one coherent whole. Undoubtedly, satisfaction can lead to happiness if it is part of a broader plan of a person's realization. But the hedonistic satisfaction of consumerism does not develop a system of meaningfulness that can lead to happiness. The satisfaction of consumerism is a fragmented collection of short-lived isolated pleasures on which we become more and more dependent, hoping that at the end of the day we will fall asleep happy. Such a form of satisfaction allows the smooth functioning of a consumer society that operates on the basis of desires, and desires are limitless. Once fulfilled, the desire changes, and we fixate on something new, and new, and new. Desires are insatiable, but they still create enough satisfaction that we want more, too little to stop wanting. Thus, it is a state of addiction of the spirit in which happiness is unattainable but capital is intact.

But partial satisfaction is not the only reason happiness is unattainable. Such types of satisfaction only legitimize the lack of content in happiness itself. In modern society, happiness has become a sign that does not denote something real. In other words, using Baudrillard's terminology (2013), happiness becomes a simulation, a signifier without a real signified. Happiness becomes essential in and of itself. It is a self-sufficient concept that we strive for without content. Herein lies the contradiction of the contemporary notion of happiness. In consumer societies, the ideal of happiness as primary has been created. However, happiness is a secondary concept of some processes. It is the result of achieving some other goal. Thus, we cannot desire to be happy for the sake of happiness itself. Happiness is achieved through the realization of a goal that is more important than the concept of happiness itself. We do not do something to be happy; rather, we become happy through dedication to something, through which we consequently realize ourselves. Therefore, happiness as a concept cannot be the source nor the goal. It is the passive companion of a realized life. Money, leisure, family, and love cannot be sources of happiness if sought for the sake of happiness itself. Happiness comes through our existential contribution to the development of one or all of these phenomena. I am not happy because I have a family, but I am happy if I grow in that family and if that family grows because of me. I am not happy because I have money, but I am happy if I know how and what to spend that money on to become a better (subjectively speaking) person. I do not love to be happy, but I am happy because I love (Fromm, 2021).

The pursuit of happiness we've described, in the spirit of consumerism, distances us from real happiness and draws us closer to discursive happiness – a directed happiness achieved through consumption and immediate gratification. Hedonism and egocentrism then create an illusion of happiness that alienates the individual. Through the illusion of happiness, there is no growth, no striving for self-development or the development of others, and no vision for the future. The illusion of happiness chains us to the present, to the now. It orients us towards ourselves because the long-term investment of altruism cannot be realized immediately. Such happiness denies love, it denies the other, and ultimately, it denies ourselves. However, it creates an increasingly focused direction on desires, because in the absence of desires and the satisfaction of those minor desires, we remain faced with the fact of the impossibility of achievement or the effort to achieve true happiness. Therefore, this type of delusion is not imposed externally by capitalists or power structures, but is imposed by the alienated individual upon themselves. As Marx once wrote, often misunderstood – religion is the opium of the people, not opium for the people. By doing so, Marx wanted to highlight the self-deceiving practices of the people. In this way, the question of happiness should be viewed. Discursive happiness is not opium FOR the people but is the opium of the people by which we deceive ourselves, moving away from responsibility towards true happiness. The opium makes it easier to forget the fact that happiness requires effort.

Furthermore, it should be noted that sobering up from this discursive, self-destructive happiness occurs at the subconscious level. Thus, we are not aware of what is troubling us, but we are burdened by increasingly frequent and pronounced neuroses. Anxiety, panic attacks of contemporary society, procrastination, and other psychological terms only point to the fact that we are lost in the pursuit of happiness for which we are unwilling to make an effort, so we cling to its copy – happiness for happiness's sake, or discursive happiness. However, the vicious circle of searching for discursive happiness forces us to view these subconscious signals as something that distances us, not aids in understanding the concept of happiness. Therefore, we try to adapt to an unhealthy society in order to force ourselves into the discursive happiness that our subconscious rejects. Thus, we do not just ignore the signs but interpret them as something through which we are deficient, not the society that does not offer us opportunities for realizing true happiness.

In conclusion, the ideology of happiness in a consumerist world presents a complex challenge that requires profound reflection on our role and place within the social fabric. Consumerism offers us an illusory happiness based on the continuous satisfaction of temporal desires, which, although temporarily satisfying, leaves us empty and alienated from the true meaning and purpose in the long run. Happiness, therefore, should not be a goal in itself but a natural outcome of a life led by values, meaning, and authentic interpersonal relationships. To achieve this kind of happiness, it is necessary to resist the temptations of the consumerist lifestyle and work on developing deeper, more lasting sources of satisfaction and fulfillment. This involves a critical reevaluation of our desires and needs and a shift towards creating meaningful connections with others and contributing to the greater good. Ultimately, true happiness stems from a sense of belonging that is not forced and oriented towards ourselves but towards others. Through understanding and embracing these principles, we can move towards a society that promotes a healthier, more fulfilled version of happiness, thereby freeing ourselves from the burdens imposed by consumerist ideology. Happiness can become happiness only if we commit to something external to us.