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Are you happy?

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Ken Hemingway

Are you happy?

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Another missing thread. What I wanted to contribute to that one was.....The following are quotes from Looking for Spinoza (p271) by Antonio Damasio - this book is a report by a research neurologist of his attempts to understand the lessons of our growing understanding of the biology of emotion and feeling. (I think one of his earlier books was a selection on this board)."...any project for human salvation - any project capable of turning a life examined into a life contented - must include ways to resist the anguish conjured up by suffering and death, cancel it, and substitute joy instead.""If we do not exist under oppression or in famine and yet cannot convince ourselves how lucky we are to be alive, perhaps we are not trying hard enough."He seems to be leaning toward a conclusion I am tentatively embracing.... that we have a moral duty to try to be happy. Does anyone else see it that way?
AirPrang

Re: Are you happy?

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That works for me. There really is so much in life and the world that isn't miserable, and much that can be worked upon to make the world a better place for ourselves and others. Why contribute to misery if you can make a more positive difference.I've not heard of that book, so thanks for posting the quotes. ASS II, while there's no place like home.
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Mr. P

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Re: Are you happy?

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I do not see happiness as something we can choose to have. Pain is realtive. Yes, I am not starving, but that aside, there are other things that I seek to find happiness. If I do not meet those goals, then I am not happy.I offer that happiness and anguish reach an equilibrium with the external world. When we have achieved a certain level of happiness, overcoming a certain level of anguish, we do not, or maybe cannot look back and judge future happiness on past anguish. Maybe an individual can do this, for the memories of those past times are somewhat retained, but a population cannot. We remember WW2 (speaking for those who were not alive during the war) but do not really understand much about what it was to live through those times.Maybe I am stretching a bit from the jist of the original post, but this is what came into my mind upon reading this. One cannot act happy and thus achieve it, so whether or not it is a moral obligation to be happy means nothing to me. HOW can we make everyone happy is my question. Where is that final equation that will solve the mystery of human anguish. Do we really want to find it? Is anguish necessary to our continued success as a species? I think it just may be.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
marti1900

Re: Are you happy?

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Ken...a 'moral obligation' to be happy? OK, now it sounds like a duty, another chore along with the dishes, vacuuming the floor and washing the car. I believe we have the ability to choose to be happy, but are not morally obligated to do so. But logically, why choose to be other than happy? Especially given Mr. P's balance of happiness and anguish. And Mr. P, you say "One cannot act happy and thus achieve it,..." Actually, that statement is not true. Studies have shown that 'actiing happy', and doing normal things that usually give pleasure actually produce chemical changes in the brain. Studies show that kids in schools forced to wear uniforms, ties, certain length skirts, call their teachers Sir and Ma'am, have a generally higher academic achievement than kids in permissive school settings who are permitted to dress as they wish, etc.Also studies of mentally challenged people who habitually act out and fall into deep depressions have shown that by creating a reward system for non-acting out responses and for staying out of the full depression cycle are very effective and in fact produce a behavior that mimics 'normal' behavior of the general population.Perhaps we have all had the experience of hauling some friend or relative out of their bed or house where they have holed up in a depressed funk and forcing them to go out with us, to eat, etc. truly does produce a positive change in that person. The old adage that to cure depression you have to get moving is true in a biological/chemical sense.So, it is also a truism that if you act happy, you will get happy.But I digress. Or maybe not. If one thinks he/she cannot choose to be happy, one can choose to act happy, and see what happens.But my emphasis is on choice, which negates a moral obligation.Marti in Mexico
Ken Hemingway

Re: Are you happy?

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Mr. P. wrote: I do not see happiness as something we can choose to have.I imagine you realize, Nick, that this post was targeted at you! I guess with a handle like yours you're going to attract a lot of attention from evangelistic optimists like me!The way I see it, there are three ways to support the position I think you hold.1. A person's happiness is entirely a result of his/her life circumstances and cannot be affected by any kind of "attitude readjustment". I'm pretty sure this is wrong.2. Anxiety and worry have an adaptive purpose
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Mr. P

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Re: Are you happy?

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Quote:And Mr. P, you say "One cannot act happy and thus achieve it,..." Actually, that statement is not true. Studies have shown that 'actiing happy', and doing normal things that usually give pleasure actually produce chemical changes in the brain. Studies show that kids in schools forced to wear uniforms, ties, certain length skirts, call their teachers Sir and Ma'am, have a generally higher academic achievement than kids in permissive school settings who are permitted to dress as they wish, etc.I wonder how far reaching this make believe happiness is. As for the uniforms and all that stuff...12 years of Catholic school was all bull...uniforms, "Sir" or otherwise. I wonder what other factors attribute the higher achievements of those that were uniforms and are forced to respect others (rather than GIVING respect that is earned...I do not believe anyone has the right to the respect of anyone else, forced or not). Perhaps financial background or family life also play a role. No uniform I ever wore helped me more than my own abilities and my life as a whole. Quote:Perhaps we have all had the experience of hauling some friend or relative out of their bed or house where they have holed up in a depressed funk and forcing them to go out with us, to eat, etc. truly does produce a positive change in that person. Without my knowledge of any studies, I would have to say that, again, it is probably a temporary fix. Depression does not go away because of one night out.Quote:But I digress. Or maybe not. If one thinks he/she cannot choose to be happy, one can choose to act happy, and see what happens.I try this all the time...then out of nowhere, on any given day, things can all come back and play with my mind. I do come out on top all the time, but it is not easy and tells me that my happiness is not going to be found unless I make some big changes, which for me, in my position, is not easy to do.KEN:Quote:I guess with a handle like yours you're going to attract a lot of attention from evangelistic optimists like me!I figured you were taking a shot at Mr. Bummer! :PI like all of you "Evangelistic Optimists", we do need balance all throughout life after all...and if it were not for your type, hoping against all hope, I would never have the chance to say "I TOLD YOU SO!!!" (I am kidding).As for the rest of your post...I cannot respond right now...I have to get back to my DEPRESSING AND UNHAPPY job!booo hoohoohoohoohoo! Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
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tarav

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Re: Are you happy?

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I am generally a pretty happy person. Right now I'm unemployed with no idea of what I'll do next...but I'm still pretty happy with my life, in general. I am the kind of person who smiles a lot. In fact, I have to stop myself from smiling and saying, "hello" to co-workers that I don't like, or I'll automatically greet them pleasantly! I read Damasio's book and found it very interesting. I think that one can make themselves more happy by acting happy. I also think that one can make themselves feel badly by acting badly. In my own experience, I have made myself not feel well by acting as if I was not well! In order to lend credibility to my taking a sick day(when I wasn't sick)on the following day, I began talking about how I didn't feel well to prepare my assistant for my absence. By the end of the day I really didn't feel well! Maybe I am crazy or maybe this is just something that happened to me, but I really think I made myself ill! I understand Nick's feeling that these calculated states of mind are temporary. However, I wonder how much repetition of the behavior is needed for a temporary fix to become more permanent. I think it is possible for some people.
Ken Hemingway

Re: Are you happy?

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Marti wrote: a 'moral obligation' to be happy? OK, now it sounds like a duty, another chore along with the dishes, vacuuming the floor and washing the car.Yes, Marti, I think you are right. The idea that you have a moral obligation to try to be happy is not an important one since it's pretty unlikely that anyone will persuaded to change their behaviour because of it. If you can't be persuaded to seek your own happiness for its own sake, would you really do it because you ought to?All the same I think it is true. It stems from the thought that if someone is, say, "wasting their life", you might feel sorry for them, but you might also feel that that kind of waste is something they ought to be ashamed of. Can't you imagine someone saying "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, throwing your life away like that"? Perhaps it would be a cruel thing to say, but perhaps not one that would be wholly unjustified.I think it is true, though, that when Damasio says "perhaps we are not trying hard enough" he doesn't really mean to remonstrate, but to encourage.
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Re: Are you happy?

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Quote:However, I wonder how much repetition of the behavior is needed for a temporary fix to become more permanent. I think it is possible for some people. I just do not agree. I do not think it is possible to find happiness by acting happy....all acting happy will do is assimilate one into the mold of societal happiness, which to me is a farce. Brainwashing comes to mind.I attest that no true happiness can be contrived, but must be sought and found...and that happiness is entirely an individual thing.The is no 'happines mold', and thus no way any moral society can morally require a semblence happiness as a pre-requisite.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper
AirPrang

Re: Are you happy?

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But how much of our western angst has come about through societal conditioning that we shouldn't be happy? That's 'brainwashing' of a sort too, isn't it?Quote:Marti wrote: a 'moral obligation' to be happy? OK, now it sounds like a duty, another chore along with the dishes, vacuuming the floor and washing the car Put like that, sign me up for the happiness strike. However, it is possible to go forward with a glad heart even where the situation exemplifies bleakness.Don't mind me Mr Pessismist, I'm one of those irritating types for whom the glass is mostly half full. Drives most of my friends and family mad, it does. I respect your right to have a bleak outlook, and will defend that right to the very ends of the earth! ASS II, while there's no place like home.
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