The Logic of Happiness

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I have heard many a time that happiness is a choice. In my own experience and independent conclusions from the past 20 years of my reliable observation capacity, the goal in life for everyone is to be happy. So logically speaking our ultimate goals in life are supposed to be completely up to us to decide. We choose what will make us happy and if what we know will make us happy is not what we have set out to achieve then we are living pointless lives.Image

As faddy daddy as all this might sound, a lot of incisive reflection went into the above conclusion. It applies with everything. Even that which appears to be a sad activity is empirically performed to provide or sustain some level of joy or contentment. Why do people go to funerals? They want to put to rest the grief that they have been subjected to by the news of someone’s death. Some just want to have some form of contact with people they did not give enough time to while they were alive. Later on, we might go back to the cemetery to enjoy a connection that can only be accessed in the memories of our loved ones. After the funeral, we somehow hope that we will revert to our normal happy selves while searching for the highest form of it, what alternative spiritualists refer to as nirvana. It’s in every aspect of human life; religion, knowledge, business and finance, social life and even health. Some people do find it while others don’t. If our drive for achieving happiness depends on our every action why do we many a time find ourselves doing precisely the opposite?

Assumptions

We make assumptions everyday about what will make us happy. I read some interesting philosophical stuff the other day by John Dewey, the famous early 20th Century scientist. He said that everything we do is an art and an art in itself is done to enjoy the process. The process here means every step of producing a work of art including the final piece. Therefore in our predictive mind sets, we normally envision how something will end up based on our limited experience with them. Because of this, we often create a predefined expectation of what an experience should be like in order for it to be enjoyed. It’s a very misleading way to think things through. Granted, not all experiences are going to be good. New experiences are however not predictable since we have not been there before. How do we justify our hesitation to try them? We can’t. Old experiences can be a bit more predictable but not completely. There are always some changes every time we try something a second time. If our bad experiences are valid enough we have the option of avoiding them or changing them. If they were good, we can always try them again.

Making it happen

You may say all corporate parties suck because the last two you attended weren’t exiciting. Taking this perspective is a passive reaction based habit. You simply react passively to what you are exposed to. Alternatively, if we thought about what we can add to the party to make it fun, corporate parties might not be so dreadful anymore. It need not be something big. It could even mean getting to know certain people better or bringing someone along, or performing. This is the proactive lifestyle that happiness resides in because in reality happiness is a choice. And when it seems that we are forced to choose how to handle bad situations for the least damage, what we are really being offered is a chance to find a way of enjoying them.

Discover it, keep it

The value of life inherently is fueled by our zest to discover what Jonathan Wagner describes as the flow. Any experience we choose or accept is invariably coupled with a value we seek to gain. You buy a car to enjoy the thrill of a fast ride or to have a go at a big-buck kind of image, you take a stroll to feel at peace or to relieve stress and you’ll eat exotic food to enjoy the different elements that appeal to you in a different culture or maybe just to try some new tastes. Ultimately, we become happy when the value is completely achieved. Beyond this we have nothing more to extract from the experience. Insisting on something whose value has already expired is what we refer to as over-consumption. The big problem with over-consumption is that it can eat away at the value gained and lead to common issues like addiction, greed, isolation, emptiness and the likes. We call this process vanity and it’s what minimalists are always seeking to eliminate. If you’re having problems in the quest for happiness it’s probably because you don’t know when to stop and look for new experiences or you’ve given up long before we’ve derived the desired values. It takes a introspective look at which of the two positions you are in to truly find balance and gain happiness.

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