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Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness 
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 Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness



Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:00 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
Interesting how he says that before he wrote the book, he would have voted Buddha for "Best Psychologist of the Last Three Thousand Years" but then moved away from that opinion, saying Buddhism is overreacting with its idea of nonattachment.

I suspect Buddhists and Buddhist sympathizers will say you can still "live life to the fullest" and practice nonattachment.

This weekend I will listen to week 2 of Robert Wright's Coursera course, it's pretty much on the exact same topic



Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:08 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
Dexter wrote:
Interesting how he says that before he wrote the book, he would have voted Buddha for "Best Psychologist of the Last Three Thousand Years" but then moved away from that opinion, saying Buddhism is overreacting with its idea of nonattachment.

I suspect Buddhists and Buddhist sympathizers will say you can still "live life to the fullest" and practice nonattachment.

This weekend I will listen to week 2 of Robert Wright's Coursera course, it's pretty much on the exact same topic

Yeah, he seems to think that going all the way with Buddha would divorce us from some of what makes us most human, which is to basically want to strive for something, whether it's personal betterment or to make the world better. Do all religions propose extreme solutions, maybe on purpose, knowing that we'll never achieve these ideals, which might not be so good if we did? But getting a little closer could be a beneficial corrective to our more instinctual ways.

I wonder also if there is any political dimension to nonattachment and not striving. Such an attitude in the people might be convenient for rulers, creating a more docile population. How cynical I am.



Sat Mar 29, 2014 8:38 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
DWill wrote:
I wonder also if there is any political dimension to nonattachment and not striving. Such an attitude in the people might be convenient for rulers, creating a more docile population. How cynical I am.



As I recall, I was very politically active when studying and practicing Buddhism many years ago. My teachers were mostly American Buddhists like Joseph Goldstein from Massachusetts.

As I understand it, nonattachment is not about not having views and opinions, it's about not identifying with or not attaching ourselves too tightly to those views and opinions. It's another aspect of freeing the mind. If we can separate our self from our views and opinions, we can consider more objectively the whole of any situation and be more open to the points of view of others.

Haidt's description of the evolutionary development of the unconscious has given me a better understanding of attachment theory.



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Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:35 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
LevV wrote:
As I understand it, nonattachment is not about not having views and opinions, it's about not identifying with or not attaching ourselves too tightly to those views and opinions. It's another aspect of freeing the mind. If we can separate our self from our views and opinions, we can consider more objectively the whole of any situation and be more open to the points of view of others.

Haidt's description of the evolutionary development of the unconscious has given me a better understanding of attachment theory.

A lot of this stuff segues nicely into aspects of critical thinking. One of the "tenets" of critical thinking is to keep opinions and beliefs at arm's length. Build tents instead of castles because you don't want to entrench yourself, you want to be able change your position if new data comes along.

I can go off on political subjects from time to time, but it's actually surprisingly easy for me to disengage from politics. These days I don't consider myself a Democrat or a Republican, I don't identify with either party. This makes me wonder if the attraction to Buddhism is something that appeals only to a certain segment of the population, those who are already tend to disengage from popular trends and cultural fads, including politics.

The lotus often symbolizes non-attachment because it floats over muddy waters and still produces an immaculate flower.

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Post Re: Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
My family just went to Alcatraz and actually met one of the former prisoners, William Baker, who was there signing his book. Anyway, I read an article about him and saw a connection here with what Haidt describes as the adaption principle. Our baseline of happiness changes with our circumstances. Even being imprisoned at Alcatraz is something that Baker doesn't see as that bad.

Baker says that although the island has a reputation for being a rough place and housing some of America’s toughest criminals, it wasn’t so bad.

“A human being can adjust to just about anything. We found happiness comes in small packages. To a junkyard dog, a bone is pure heaven. The food was alright and once we got a job, we could get out of our cell during the day and go to work...I don’t regret the experience because I met some really great people there. People who I thought were great anyway. They just liked to rob banks.”

http://www.santaclaraweekly.com/2014/Is ... _1259.html


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Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:21 am
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Post Re: Ch. 5 - The Pursuit of Happiness
I suppose adaptation might help account for the pursuit of happiness. Why else would we need to see happiness as a continual pursuit unless it was assumed we would get used to the level or type of happiness we have and need to find something else? It seems that we in the West have a different view, in which we do chart out a progression of sorts for ourselves, whether that is career or leisure pursuits. We generally value having a variety of experiences rather than just settling. At least, that's the modern, cosmopolitan way of looking at life. Where more traditional and rural ways of life persist, there isn't the same urge to branch out into new personal and cultural experiences.

So I think that for us cosmopolitans, happiness consists partly in letting adaptation have its reign. We know we're going to get used to any condition, and we enjoy finding out what might be next.

Of course, nobody ever said, as far as I know, that pursuing happiness is bad; it's just a little tricky. Social research has shown that we're not so good at predicting what will make us happy. The research also shows, says Haidt, that pursuing happiness through material things is misguided, whereas using our money to buy experiences, especially shared ones, pays off.

What did you think of the Happiness Formula? Happiness equals our set point for happiness, plus conditions known to increase the chance of happiness, plus voluntary activities: H = C + S + V. Seems pretty solid to me. Haidt makes a point of correcting the wisdom of the ages that tells us happiness is self-generated, that it's from within. He says that we can actually increase our happiness by changing some external conditions, which makes sense.



Fri Apr 04, 2014 10:41 pm
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