In The Kingdom Of Mists

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Eudemonic happiness: well-being with longevity, due to self-realisation, fruitful relationships, goals. Some theorists believe humans can be transformed, enhanced. So in the meantime a slightly more prosaic solution to maximising happiness, or reducing mental suffering, is riding the muddy waves of mental ill-health. Pharmacological science created — extremely lucrative — methods of affecting our brain chemistry in an effort to cheer up humanity.

Prozac, maybe the most famous of modern antidepressants of the SSRI selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors class, is hardly an answer to the occasional crushing lows of human existence, though its popularity is nevertheless astounding.

Five Ancient Secrets to Modern Happiness

The idea of nations of moderately dull but functioning people, neither barbed with sadness nor spiked with joy, is — statistically — more than a mere dystopian dream. While compassionate, if we overlook its monstrous profitability, the sweetshop cornucopia of depressive medication available nowadays could perhaps induce an international epidemic of laziness, mediocrity, and victim mentality, while submitting the meek to venal marketing ideology.

The number of people seeking medication for depression has been rising steadily as has money spent on advertising depression medication, from 32 to million dollars in the US from Columbia University despite many medications being surrounded by controversy that attacks the specious efficacy of the drugs, outlining reams of side-effects, and after numerous medical trials finding many antidepressant drugs only as effective as a clinical dud.

While the selfish determinism of our genetics might seem an inescapable cul-de-sac to some dispirited hardliners — perhaps enough to force them over to the green grasses of Prozac — their plaints might be unconvincing to those who believe in the healthy lifestyle, the absence of legal and illegal drugs, daily exercise, meditation, and a balanced diet. Although some theorists inform us we cannot ever attain lasting happiness.

Antinatalism was made un popular by Arthur Schopenhauer, whose theories of inhedonia — the inability to enjoy oneself — were partly based on the Buddhist precept of the will — desires — to cause all human suffering. Buddhism teaches us moderation, a curtailment of the desires that make us suffer. Our world, presently designed on a system of hearty consumption, is hardly a platform for Buddhist contentment.


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To have more, spend more, use more, is in some ways our modus operandi as we stomp through life. Is this why But where would art, literature and music be without a regular dose of anguish, immoderation and loss? Would happiness not bring about a drought in humanity where we may least need one? If great art is a byproduct of what is essentially the scourge of humanity suffering , is art worth all the bother? Spontaneity and impulse can provide us with the best kind of happiness.

Perhaps some people are not made of Buddhist cloth? Certain types might be happier in moderation, while others feel comfortable with their intemperateness. Well-being can be achieved to some extent, but first we must know ourselves, our — complex — type. And then we can make the right choices…. Dan Gilbert, an American psychologist and writer working at Harvard University, spoke at a recent TED talk about the persuasive power of delusion concerning life choices.

If happiness is so often contingent upon our decisions, then it would be in our interests to choose well. Though Gilbert explains how his research has found that people have the ability, as a result of their psychological immune system, to make themselves think they made the right choice when they did not. His study on synthetic happiness, through a series of tests, revealed that even though we often make the wrong choices, our brains lead us to think — as we are stuck with the decision — to incontrovertibly believe it was the right choice.

According to Gilbert, the house you bought, the guy you married, the decision to become a banker and not just a thief, even though you are convinced was the best path to follow, may have been the wrong choice, and lead to what he calls synthetic happiness — not the real thing. His TED illustration of this point is very convincing. Perhaps some of our better choices have worse affects?

Devout traditionalism then becomes a shield that cowers from the present, and in doing so, casts a shadow over its owner. He gives special attention to envy and guilt. The human bond, so essential to our well-being, has become desiccated within the apathetic medium of the online hub. Social networks have become bottomless pools into which billions of modern Narcissists sit entranced staring at their own virtual reflections.

To friend a person is merely to include the person in our private hall of flattering mirrors.

The Birth of Modern Happiness

Russell also talks about how our being in the public eye can cause extremes of suffering, guilt, persecution mania. He is well aware of the pleasure paradox, the notion of false happiness and destructive desires. Such a man feels himself a citizen of the universe…It is in such profound instinctive union with the stream of life that the greatest joy is to be found.

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Negative Utilitarianism is more in vogue though, which means lessening suffering in the greatest numbers. For many citizens, troubled times, wars, oppressive dictatorships, poverty, absence of rights, jobs, free speech, may certainly lead towards a protracted state of unhappiness, though it might not always be the case.


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Thailand is ranked 76th. Paritat explained that using drugs such as Prozac is definitely not a solution to unhappiness. His belief is that a person can change his sense of well-being with practice and effort, naturally. He can induce happiness, in quantity, all by himself. Can we imagine well-being without corresponding counter feelings? What goes up, not coming down? What would be the consequences of positive emotional constancy?

Could meditation habitually replace medication? It is so included because the founding fathers evidently assumed that such pursuit was a human universal of the most important, that human beings, in other words, have always and everywhere had the capacity for experiencing happiness and have been naturally drawn to it.

Modern Emotions: Happiness | Psychology Today

The readers of this blog would, probably, agree with this assumption and it is quite likely that many would consider happiness the very purpose of human existence. And yet, this assumption is wrong. Happiness is a modern emotion. No one — no society, no language — had a concept of it before the 16 th century, when the idea of happiness first appeared in England, and this means that it was inconceivable for people who lived before the 16 th century and to those who lived outside of England even for some time after it.

If it was inconceivable, it could hardly been experienced, and certainly could not be consciously desired and pursued. As to whether it could be felt, desired, and pursued unconsciously we cannot know, because for obvious reasons, we cannot have any evidence regarding this possibility.

Happiness: a modern malaise

At that time it had no equivalent in any other language. From the eudemonia of the Ancient Greeks on, all the synonyms of it connoted the benevolence of fate. The Greek eudemonia , in fact, could not be experienced at all, one of its defining characteristics was an easy and honorable death, and it was impossible to say whether one was or was not subject to the benevolence of fate until one was dead. Jewish monotheism rejected the idea of luck, opposing to it a view of the world predicated on the concept of justice.

Man became to a certain extent responsible for his own fate. Under the influence of Jewish monotheism, which began to spread sometime in the 6 th century BCE, eudemonia was reinterpreted and could now be applied to actual experience. From our, modern, perspective, however, it was certainly not a happy experience. The word now referred to the acceptance of mortality.

Because the task of philosophy was to prepare one for death, eudemonia became the goal of philosophy. But, actually, the advice of the philosophy which pursued eudemonia was to live a life that, while free of actual suffering to the extent that was possible, would be so devoid of enjoyment that one would not regret leaving it when time comes — a sort of nirvana. This interpretation was reinforced and at the same time further modified in the Christian thinking.

Happiness has nothing in common with the phenomena whose names are used to translate this utterly novel English experience into other languages. To start, it is a joyful and pleasant emotion. Of course, human beings, like animals, have always been familiar with the sensations of joy and pleasure. Happiness incorporates them but implies much more.

This implies that one experiences existence as meaningful, feels there is a reason for being here and now, and that one has a firm and satisfactory identity. Above all, perhaps, happiness is experienced as an achievement.

Hitting the Books: Modern surveillance and 'the science of happiness'

It is a conscious realization that one reaps the results of right choices. It is an historical fact that for much of human history people could not be happy. This was not because the capacity for happiness did not exist, but because happiness the emotion did not exist.

It was created at the dawn of modernity. Perhaps the reader already begins to see what connects the modern emotions on which we focus: ambition, happiness, and love, together. Facebook : LiahGreenfeld. You said that no one had a conception of happiness until the 16th century. This is false because if you have a PhD then you would know that Aristotle had a very good explanation of it during his time BC - BC. This term is Eudaimonia and it is what we consider as a contemporary notion of happiness.