Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

Wednesdays Weighty Wisdoms #3, Happiness

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by robsalvv, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. Apologies... I was soo deep in my philosophical cave last week, I forgot to appear and poke some philosophy at you all... so here's number 3 to get your thoughts started - on the universal topic of Happiness.

    I can see a sort of hand in glove between that quote and this one:

    Statistics show we're wealthier per capita than ever before, but happiness still alludes... why?

    The first quote has a powerful resonance with me because I'm wired to ask questions and look - to a fault probably... maybe I need to stop... maybe then I'll be inundated by a wall of euphoria... but that might suggest that ignorance is bliss??? I dunno.

    So let's discuss a really "lite n easy" topic, what is happiness? What makes one happy? Is it really an illusion? Can human's with their will, desire and complex self identity / self awareness ever be "happy"? ...and why does being and staying happy seem like herding cats??

    Go forth and philosophise!
  2. It's ELUDES. Happiness is being able to spell
  4. Like all emotions, happiness is a passing phase. The trick is to move between happy and content a lot while minimising the time spent in sad mode. Even when sad, it's possible to be accepting/understanding and therefore still content. :)

    Those that continually strive for more will always feel something is missing unless they can appreciate what they have. :)

    I should add that happiness is directly linked to sadness. Without having the bad times, we couldn't know how good we have it and wouldn't experience happiness as strongly as we do. :)
  5. Epicurus (greek philosopher 341bc-270bc) listed 3 things one needs to acquire in order to live a happy life:

    1. Friendship
    “Before you eat or drink anything, consider carefully who you eat or drink with rather than what you eat or drink : for feeding without a friend is the life of a lion or a wolf.â€
    We don’t exist unless there is someone who can see us existing, what we say has no meaning until someone can understand. To be surrounded by friends is constantly to have our identity confirmed; their knowledge and care of us has the power to pull us from our numbness. True friends do not evaluate us according to worldly criteria. Like ideal parents, they are interested in our core. They are unaffected by our appearance or position in the social hierarchy.
    Some of us misunderstand the desire for riches as purely being a hunger for a luxurious life. A more important motive might be the wish to be appreciated and treated nicely. We may seek a fortune for no greater reason other than to secure the respect and attention of people who would otherwise look straight through us.
    Epicurus, recognized that underlying need, and found that a handful of true friends could deliver the love and respect that even a fortune may not.

    2. Freedom
    Epicurus and his friends made a second remarkable discovery. In order not to have to work for people they didn’t like and answer to potentially humiliating whims, they removed themselves from the commercial world of Athens.
    So they bought a garden near their house, and grew vegetables for their kitchen. Their diet wasn’t luxurious, but it was flavorsome and nutritious.
    As Epicurus explained to his friend, “The wise man chooses not the greatest quantity of food but the most pleasantâ€.
    Simplicity did not affect the friends’ sense of status because, by distancing themselves from the values of Athens, they had ceased to judge themselves on a material basis.

    3. Thought
    Epicurus was especially concerned that he and his friends learn to analyze their anxieties about money, illness, death and the supernatural. Sober analysis calmed the mind. By writing down a problem or airing it in conversation we let its essential characters to emerge. And by knowing its character we remove, if not the problem itself, then its secondary, aggravating characteristics: confusion, displacement, surprise.
    Wealth is of course unlikely to make anyone miserable. But the crux of Epicurus’s argument is that if we have money without friends, freedom and an analyzed life, we will never be truly happy . And if we have them, but are missing the fortune, we will never be unhappy.

    Cheers BB
  6. Hmmm....interesting topic Rob...i'm getting to a stage i my life when things seem to be working the way that i want, i am happy with where my life is at the moment - am i euphoric - nope - am i above averagely happy - for sure!!!

    I am surrounded by people who encourage and support me - and make me fall off my chair laughing every now and again...both in life stuff and at work...

    I think making yourself happy sometimes involves setting and achieving attainable goals - they dont need to be reaching for the stars kinda things, but if you dont try to push yourself - you wont feel like your living your life - more like surviving...

    My 2cents
  7. I found this little snippet and I believe it sums it up.

    Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
    Kurt Cobain
  8. Yikes :shock: Lite n easy topic you say, yea sure :LOL:

    Okay, I'll start with the What makes one happy question. I am going to respond in general with saying that happiness is a state of mind. Now to elaborate !

    Happiness involves choice as well as action. Often its easy to decide what you dont want & be able to draw a list, but it can be difficult to do the opposite & make a "happy" list. Often people generalise ie: I just want to ride, rather than breaking that down into their true desire & what steps or actions would be needed for them to be happy ie: I want to ride xx km's on xx bike with xx people & see xx & do xx at xx time of year with xx dollars in pocket. So therefore when they are not doing their true desire or the entire thing or making steps or plans towards it, the "happiness" may fall short.

    You can put a number of people in the same situation ie: a prison camp, and although all would prefer not to be there, there is bound to be someone who is happy they are. Reasons may vary and it could be as simple as appreciating they are still alive, surrounded with people they do or dont know or having enough activities throughout the day to keep their brain occupied. So in essence, it may not be something that they had on their "I want to do this & it will make me happy" list, however they have changed their goal posts and perspective, making the most and appreciating a situation. Kind of like turning a negative into a positive.

    Often setbacks/knockbacks to plans etc can be hard to take and therefore dull the shine of the object/activity, as well as other parts of life giving distraction or having to take centre stage can remove focus or desires to goals or even change the goal posts completely, so maybe happiness also has to include acceptance?
  9. Mr MVRog, you are now on my spell check watch! sheesh, flamin spell police!! Don't you put a key wrong anywhere pal!! :p :LOL:

    Actually, if you stand back a bit, tilt ya head and squint your eyes, the sentence still holds context with the meaning of "allude" as opposed to "elude"... anyway, nitridering is NOT MAKING ME HAPPY, so I will desist.

    Now to read the input.
  10. I bought the mv, as it was the only brand that I could spell
  11. Nixon and GL... the happiness of things going right or things fitting ones image or desire is important, but I wonder, is it true happiness? If those things get taken away and that makes you feel unhappy, I'm wondering about the depth of ones feelings. Were we really happy to begin with???

    Seany's point is interesting, it reminds me of one of my guiding motto's "this too shall soon pass". It's important to enjoy the highs that life brings when their brung and ride out the lows in between... but remain content with your lot in between... life is a continuous flux...

    But frankly I dunno.

    I've always thought that happiness starts from within first... a solid self esteem and a good self image are the foundation stone of basic inherent happiness... and then anything else on top of that is cream.

    I still hold to that thought but a man is not an island - it's a tough path to be independantly truly happy. I think BB's post has some important clues about that! I probably have overdone the analysis bit, but I like where Epicurus was going with the 1st and 2nd things...
  12. heh, my signature for years was "We'll all be dead one day, and this won't matter" :) which is sorta an aussie bogan Carpe Diem, I suppose :p

    I think a lot of people mistake contentment for happiness.
    From when we are born, we want.
    We want food, and shelter, and clothing, and love.
    Later on we want comfort, affirmation, friends.
    Later than that we want romance, a house, freedom, children.

    I think most people are level-headed enough not to rest their view of their own lives on the unrealistically good: wish I had a million dollars, the ability of flight, and a smaller, less intimidating penis... but instead we figure we'll be "happy" or "OK with" or as I'm coming to view it "content" with achievable goals such as our own home, a faithful partner, a bike we enjoy riding and a job we don't hate.

    I think we would oridnarily say these things would make us happy, and then flatter ourselves that we're easily pleased - but for most of us, if we had those things, there isn't much else we think we'd want.

    ... so in summation:

    I think what we would call 'happiness' is actually contentment.
    I think contentment is the absence of 'wanting'.

    & also [damn I can't find the original quote] but Martin Luther said something about few things making a man as happy/content as the embrace of a loving woman ;)
  13. Happiness (as opposed to ha penis) is simple enough to achieve when you look at a person as a big bag of chemicals. Each person, each organ, each hormone, each little atom and their component parts are all doing exactly what they're built to do.

    Cuddle somebody (who wants a cuddle) and their brain will release serotonin and other endorphins, and they'll feel warm and fuzzy and happy and content. Deprive somebody of the illusion of choice (it's an illusion because the sum of their component parts and experiences can only dictate one course of action or "decision" despite how amazingly complicated we think we are) and they'll feel frustrated.

    Emotions like happiness are evolutionary tools that we've developed to survive. Guilt, for example, tells us that we're doing something others will perceive as "wrong," so it warns us that we're risking ostracism from the society we're part of. Happiness is a more pleasurable emotion that tells us things are OK and we can relax, there's no danger.

    But since it's all chemical, it's easy enough to tweak the odds in favour of happiness. There's a few things we can do that - demonstrably - contribute to a better feeling of wellbeing:

    1) Eat good food in the right amounts - proper nourishment brings us health and all its mood benefits.
    2) Exercise our bodies - there are few things that increase a sense of hapiness and wellbeing than good exercise. It also contributes to health, and raises the metabolism, which in itself makes us feel better.
    3) Sleep well - The correlation between lack of sleep and grumpiness is amazing. Early to bed and early to rise does wonders for a person.

    These are the big ones. Look after those and you're 70% of the way there. There's a few more complicated ones that aren't as simple to relate back to brain chemistry - but they all work that way in the end:

    1) Surround yourself with positive people that fill you with energy and a sense of possibility, rather than those that have such negative or skewed outlooks that they suck your positive energy away
    2) Open yourself to learning opportunities; the more we learn, the more we are able to interlink concepts and build a unified understanding which helps us work out the effective decisions
    3) Devote yourself to greater causes than your own
    4) Find pleasure and beauty in small things
    5) Remove yourself from situations where the illusion of choice is taken from you
    6) Judge yourself by your own standards of achievement, justice and success.
    7) Listen to your emotions when you move to make decisions. Emotions are programmed to make you feel uneasy and unhappy when you go against them.
    8) Find *your* people - the ones that are on a similar path, at least for the moment, and spend time with them.

    etc etc etc. There are also ways we can cheat; certain chemicals can alter our brain chemistry to achieve sensations identical to happiness - although the associated risks mean they're not for everyone.

    If we really wish to attain happiness, and we're willing to break it down and live by our own recommendations, the path in that direction is not difficult to find.
  14. Deep topic. BB I'm, impressed, haven't read that much Greek since Socrates!

    Seriously, I think a lot of people have it right. Maybe there is something to Bhuddism? No possesions, no money, but man are they happy.

    Ktulu, what about Carpe Nocturne?
  15. Probably not, but it sure beats constantly going against the wind/hitting the wall etc ! Being human other emotions such as greed, insecurity, boredom, comparisions and so on may infect or detract someone from that potential as well. Suppose the trick is to learn the when, how & what makes you truly happyas well as have strength or ability to engage contingencies for times when it challenges you, ie: be able to adapt and turn a negative into a positive.

    Hence depression :LOL: Nah seriously I dont know. I suppose a general gauge could be the depth of sadness equals the opposite of the happiness/contentment or plans that were in place before removed? Hence continual goal shifting may also add to why happiness may seem to be an elusive feeling. But maybe this is also in resistance and the inability to adapt or just a process that is required to go through to distinguish between good/bad.
    Yea I like it. Simple yet effective :)

    Agree on the surface however sadly even those traits or qualities can crack, crumble and be taken away.

    I like BB's post the most, good building blocks for the soul :)
  16. I see your adapted latin reference, and raise you Carpe Cerevisi ;)
  17. How about carpe canus?
  18. Happiness is easy to summarise, it's enjoying the here and now without worrying about the what was or what could be.

    Happiness is complicated and simple at the same time, depending on how a person looks at life, I guess.
  19. Nix, if one loses their self esteem and self image, then there really isn't anything to be happy about! I think it'd be permissible to be sad in that instance.

    I'm really big on the self esteem thing.

    :-k Loz, much food for thought in your post. A well adjusted happy individual prolly feels happy psychologically and therefore prolly has a balance of the right chemicals phisiologically, making them feel physically good. It reminds me of another adage: As within, so without.

    If you do something fleeting though which releases the chemicals, I spose it could become a crutch... resulting in addiction... and that train of thought tends to open up a whoooole can of worms. Almost anything can become an addiction... some addictions we don't even perceive as addictions... relationships, friendships, sex, NR...

    My metaphysical readings and metaphysics courses in years past, pretty much summarise happiness down to "living in the creative eternity of the moment, free from desire, lack, ego, the past and the future"... which is basically what Woodsy said... problem is though, that's a philosophy which works for the East as they tend to have a culture which inherently understands those goals. For the West though, we have a more tortuous path, the path of the householder, and have many and quite large hurdles to overcome to get to nirvana... e.g. we seem to have missed the point about possessions - they're meant to enhance inherent happiness - not instill it.
  20. By Loz's reasoning + evolution:

    Happy people are more attractive to the opposite sex.

    All agree?