01 March 2007

Happiness is When You Stop Slamming Your Own Head Against the Wall

Happiness appears to elude us, like a moving target. Oliver James thinks that it is capitalism that is making us unhappy. Certainly anyone who thinks that money is enough to make him happy will be sadly disillusioned.

Will giving to others make us happy? Giving to others may bring a warm glow. But don't confuse that warm glow with actual happiness. Sir John is correct that love and contributing to others can take us closer to happiness or add to the happiness we have. But that "warm glow" can also be achieved with Valium, and that is not happiness.

The type of happiness that actually means something is the happiness that comes from a productive, well-rounded life, that constantly sets meaningful goals and is constantly making progress toward achieving meaningful goals.

Happiness is not in a rich retirement. Retiring from life, withdrawing from life, cuts us off from many avenues toward happiness. Love is at the center of happiness, and love is not cut off. Love connects.

Popular culture has myths of happiness--but they are almost all diametrically opposite to any paths to real happiness. Popular culture is superficial. When you reach the goals that popular culture tells you to strive for, you discover the meaning of emptiness.

Evolution designed certain rewards into our neural apparatus. Rewards for certain behaviours resulted in our survival for more successful breeding. But evolution also predisposed many of us to gluttony, now that foods of all types are readily available. Eating can make us happy temporarily, just as other forms of evolutionarily programmed "consumption" can make us temporarily sated, content, even happy.

Having things doesn't make us happy, no matter how many alluring advertisements we choose to believe. Breaking our backs to acquire more things will not lead to happiness.

Happiness can mean simply stopping for a moment and looking around--and beginning to notice the world around you. Going further, and beginning to respond more satisfactorily to the world around you can add to your happiness. Then, creating a better world around you can add even more.

The real trick, is in understand who "you" are. For that, no amount of ordinary education will suffice. More on that later.


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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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