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Author Topic: Is Happiness Important?  (Read 1963 times)

EJay

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Is Happiness Important?
« on: October 19, 2012, 04:28:53 am »
Just read a Reader's Digest Article on Happiness and it got me to thinking (again!).

Is the emotion of happiness the be-all/end-all of life?  If you asked folks 60 years ago if they were happy, I think most would've answered, What does that matter?  As my dear departed father used to often say, A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  Happiness was a luxury.

Can you be satisfied with life without being happy?  Are there other emotions that are just as satisfying as happiness?  i.e. in the article, interested, was brought up.  I, personally, am a very interested, curious person who has happy moments.

I'm generally a positive person, but I don't think that's the same as being a happy person.

Even our constitution, the Pursuit of Happiness, makes it sound like we're chasing butterflies with a net.  Calvin and Hobbes had a a little series about happiness that was spot-on.

Again, just thinking and wondering.  I'm an old lady of 47 and I wonder if a lot of younger folk's depression is because they feel they haven't achieved happiness and the opposite of happiness is depression.

This little article was a real eye-opener for me and I hadn't really thought about it before.  Pele is my patroness and she definitely never promises happiness, but there is a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that I get working with her.

Maybe happiness is over-rated...?
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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2012, 05:32:21 am »
Quote from: EJay;77154
Is the emotion of happiness the be-all/end-all of life?  If you asked folks 60 years ago if they were happy, I think most would've answered, What does that matter?  As my dear departed father used to often say, A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  Happiness was a luxury.

Maybe happiness is over-rated...?


Happiness is something you don't get often, and if you chase it, the further away it gets. It comes from moments with loved ones, achieving a goal. I've found a marked increase in my own personal happiness since I started to live with gratitude. To actually be thankful for what I have instead of chasing more more more. I also think that's in common with folks 60yrs ago... they were more thankful for what they had.

As for other worthwhile emotions I would include comfort, peacefulness, joy and acceptance as all wonderful things to feel in everyday life. :)

Maps

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2012, 11:53:32 am »
Quote from: EJay;77154
Just read a Reader's Digest Article on Happiness and it got me to thinking (again!).

Is the emotion of happiness the be-all/end-all of life?  If you asked folks 60 years ago if they were happy, I think most would've answered, What does that matter?  As my dear departed father used to often say, A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  Happiness was a luxury.

Can you be satisfied with life without being happy?  Are there other emotions that are just as satisfying as happiness?  i.e. in the article, interested, was brought up.  I, personally, am a very interested, curious person who has happy moments.

I'm generally a positive person, but I don't think that's the same as being a happy person.

Even our constitution, the Pursuit of Happiness, makes it sound like we're chasing butterflies with a net.  Calvin and Hobbes had a a little series about happiness that was spot-on.

Again, just thinking and wondering.  I'm an old lady of 47 and I wonder if a lot of younger folk's depression is because they feel they haven't achieved happiness and the opposite of happiness is depression.

This little article was a real eye-opener for me and I hadn't really thought about it before.  Pele is my patroness and she definitely never promises happiness, but there is a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that I get working with her.

Maybe happiness is over-rated...?


It is, but it's still important.

I really like the whole "pursuit of happiness" versus "happiness" itself thing that the whole founders thought out. If happiness were a right, then society would fall apart. Striving for it, and getting it sometimes, is pretty much the key to human existence in a way.

I don't make comics because it makes me happy. On the contrary, even: making them frustrates me, angers me, stresses me out, takes up time that I could have spent doing more mindless "happy" things, like sitting around and drinking (though I do that too sometimes). I do it because chasing that light at the end of the tunnel, that elusive sense of accomplishment and greater understanding, makes me "happy".

I'm a social justice person, but I've always been leery of the goal of ending everybody's suffering. I fight for it because I simultaneously believe it's possible and impossible... or rather, it's possible to make progress, but it helps me sleep at night to know that we'll never reach that. And it makes me sound like an asshole, but adversity has bred many of the finest, most admirable, wise, and kind people I know. It's inspired many of the most moving and powerful expressions of human creativity, and all of the finest moments of human bravery in the face of almost certain negative consequences.

If life was a stagnant cakewalk, then what? Star Trek seems like a nice universe to visit, but I'd go crazy if I had to live there.

veggiewolf

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2012, 02:52:31 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77154
...
Again, just thinking and wondering.  I'm an old lady of 47 and I wonder if a lot of younger folk's depression is because they feel they haven't achieved happiness and the opposite of happiness is depression.

...

 
It depends on whether you're meaning depression or Depression.  The first, well, maybe - I tend to think the opposite of happiness is unhappiness which is not exactly the same thing as depression.
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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2012, 04:10:51 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77154

Is the emotion of happiness the be-all/end-all of life?  

 
It is for me, but that's philosophical; I'm a pretty full-on hedonist.  I don't think it's the priority for everyone.
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Laveth

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2012, 05:04:25 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77154
Just read a Reader's Digest Article on Happiness and it got me to thinking (again!).

Is the emotion of happiness the be-all/end-all of life?  If you asked folks 60 years ago if they were happy, I think most would've answered, What does that matter?  As my dear departed father used to often say, A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  Happiness was a luxury.

Can you be satisfied with life without being happy?  Are there other emotions that are just as satisfying as happiness?  i.e. in the article, interested, was brought up.  I, personally, am a very interested, curious person who has happy moments.

I'm generally a positive person, but I don't think that's the same as being a happy person.

Even our constitution, the Pursuit of Happiness, makes it sound like we're chasing butterflies with a net.  Calvin and Hobbes had a a little series about happiness that was spot-on.

Again, just thinking and wondering.  I'm an old lady of 47 and I wonder if a lot of younger folk's depression is because they feel they haven't achieved happiness and the opposite of happiness is depression.

This little article was a real eye-opener for me and I hadn't really thought about it before.  Pele is my patroness and she definitely never promises happiness, but there is a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that I get working with her.

Maybe happiness is over-rated...?

 

I think everyone's definition of 'happiness' tends to be different. Some may be happy only when around family or friends, some only while drinking, some only after achievement, the list goes on. I'm happy whenever I look out a window, because I know I'm still here and able to witness the world.

Then again, I tend to feel that most people over-think things anyway. ^^

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2012, 07:04:19 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;77218
It depends on whether you're meaning depression or Depression.  The first, well, maybe - I tend to think the opposite of happiness is unhappiness which is not exactly the same thing as depression.

 
As an "old lady" of 51 who mostly has a positive outlook and has had quite a bit of happiness, but who also has chronic depression, I endorse this comment.

I also am really skeptical of the implication in the OP that either a) young people experience significantly more depression than my generation, or b) young people's depression comes from their own sense of entitlement, and shouldn't be taken as seriously as older people's.  I have no idea if any of that was intentional, but it's how the OP came out reading.

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Dracona

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 08:38:27 pm »
Quote from: EJay;77154
I'm an old lady of 47

 
ok I really do have to say something on that..... I was in shock when I saw it. You really feel like an old lady? Goodness I keep forgetting I'm not 30, and I'm 44! I guess it depends how you see yourself, but if you live to 80, that's hell of a long time to be an 'old lady'.

I've said for 20yrs now I won't call myself old until I hit 90 and by then I won't care. Until then I'm an evergreen youngster gaining experience and hopefully some wisdom along the way! :ange:

EJay

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2012, 04:15:02 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;77253
I also am really skeptical of the implication in the OP that either a) young people experience significantly more depression than my generation, or b) young people's depression comes from their own sense of entitlement, and shouldn't be taken as seriously as older people's.  I have no idea if any of that was intentional, but it's how the OP came out reading.


Sunflower, I certainly didn't mean that anyone's depression should be taken less seriously than another's, regardless of age.  I guess I did make an implication about a sense of entitlement, but that doesn't make the emotion or disorder any less important or real.

Although I don't have chronic depression, both my step-kids do and it looks like my grandson has early onset bipolar disorder, so again, I certainly did not try to demean young folks.
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EJay

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 04:17:30 am »
Quote from: Dracona;77265
ok I really do have to say something on that..... I was in shock when I saw it. You really feel like an old lady? Goodness I keep forgetting I'm not 30, and I'm 44! I guess it depends how you see yourself, but if you live to 80, that's hell of a long time to be an 'old lady'.

I've said for 20yrs now I won't call myself old until I hit 90 and by then I won't care. Until then I'm an evergreen youngster gaining experience and hopefully some wisdom along the way! :ange:


This was said tongue-in-cheek.  And I believe it's not the years that count, it's the mileage. :)
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EJay

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2012, 04:40:43 am »
Quote from: Maps;77204
I really like the whole "pursuit of happiness" versus "happiness" itself thing that the whole founders thought out. If happiness were a right, then society would fall apart. Striving for it, and getting it sometimes, is pretty much the key to human existence in a way.


I agree with this.  I think that the "pursuit of happiness" is a right, not the happiness itself.  What I'm questioning is the importance of that pursuit of happiness.  For me, I find myself pursuing excellence more than happiness.

Don't get me wrong.  I love those moments of pure happiness and bliss, but I know--for me, at least--that those moments are just that:  moments.  It's not a state that I can realistically live in all the time and to pursue it, and fail, could cause not just unhappiness, but depression.

Quote from: Maps;77204
I don't make comics because it makes me happy. On the contrary, even: making them frustrates me, angers me, stresses me out, takes up time that I could have spent doing more mindless "happy" things, like sitting around and drinking (though I do that too sometimes). I do it because chasing that light at the end of the tunnel, that elusive sense of accomplishment and greater understanding, makes me "happy".


See, I think I would replace "happy" here with satisfied?  Fulfilled?

When I think of "happy," I think of this photo I have of my son when he was just two and was chasing bubbles.  The pure joy on his face brings me to my happy place. :)

Quote from: Maps;77204
I'm a social justice person, but I've always been leery of the goal of ending everybody's suffering. I fight for it because I simultaneously believe it's possible and impossible... or rather, it's possible to make progress, but it helps me sleep at night to know that we'll never reach that. And it makes me sound like an asshole, but adversity has bred many of the finest, most admirable, wise, and kind people I know. It's inspired many of the most moving and powerful expressions of human creativity, and all of the finest moments of human bravery in the face of almost certain negative consequences.


Yes, yes, and yes.  Pain and adversity can teach many things.

Quote from: Maps;77204
If life was a stagnant cakewalk, then what? Star Trek seems like a nice universe to visit, but I'd go crazy if I had to live there.


I never looked at Star Trek as a stagnant cakewalk.  Seems like most episodes had plenty of adversity and Kirk was always in pursuit of happiness. :)
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savveir

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2012, 05:36:44 am »
Quote from: EJay;77302



See, I think I would replace "happy" here with satisfied?  Fulfilled?


 
What about happiness of soul?

Aristotle termed it Eudaimonia, in short it was the happiness or rather the 'good' to which all other things eventually aimed to.
It's a happiness that is available to everyone, though it is easier with a moderate amount of good fortune. There is more on this in the work, Nicomachean Ethics

So to me, happiness is incredibly important, but not in the ecstatically overjoyed sense, but more in the quiet contentment
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Annie Roonie

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2012, 12:38:06 am »
Quote from: EJay;77154

Maybe happiness is over-rated...?

 

I think it is ill-defined and that's why it appears to be over-rated. It's an easy umbrella term for a concept that has more facets than marketers are prepared to deal with. And to me that is an important thing to consider because if I don't keep an eye on who is defining my concepts for me, what I am consuming from media, then my happy gets tangled up in someone else's. Invariably, if I do not consider what is being defined as happy and just accept what I'm fed, I lose any grasp on the concept I had and end up with a load of facets of unhappy and an urgency to go shopping to rid myself of it. Which, I believe is the goal of the marketers.

It does make me wonder about some of the things under that umbrella of happy and why they are not deemed fit for the masses. It's as if these concepts have to be neutered. Ecstasy is frequently portrayed as suspicious. Giddy is for the simple minded. Silly can be excused due to mind altering substances. Awesome with that built in modifier has ceased to hint at anything of loftiness higher than a skateboard. Contentment comes painted with laziness or even ignorance. Orgasmic has become a term for desserts. Elan is for the French? Ardor can be too easily be mistaken for something about trees?

I do not think happy is precise for all of the things it has been usurped to represent. It is safer though. Over use and imprecision can make any concept seem over-or under-rated. However, happy and where it falls on the spectrum of emotions, if considered more deeply would, IMO, have just as much weight of importance as some others like thankfulness, honor, joy, grief, frustration, longing etc.. But this is given only if a person is willing to concede that some unpleasant feelings are also important and necessary and are willing to take back their languages and own their definitions. And perhaps increase their vocabularies to be more able to precisely express and acknowledge their emotions.

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2012, 01:09:06 am »
Quote from: savvy;77304
What about happiness of soul?

Aristotle termed it Eudaimonia, in short it was the happiness or rather the 'good' to which all other things eventually aimed to.
It's a happiness that is available to everyone, though it is easier with a moderate amount of good fortune. There is more on this in the work, Nicomachean Ethics



I am glad you mentioned this. I have it coming up soon at work.

I do not think the vulgarians have changed much in how they go about making their choices and I think the modern media "happy" is directed at them and they are still the masses to be controlled. However, while statesmen may have increased in number job wise, heart wise they seem to be rare. But it seems to me that philosophers have increased at an enormous rate. Their requirements for happiness seem to be akin to how the mystical visionaries are viewed on that pagan heirarchy chart. Both at the top and bottom of regard.

I know that this is vastly simplified and these days democracy makes it much easier for anyone to be in any position. But I do feel for the frustrations of the philosophers given how they are relied upon one minute and completely ignored about 45 seconds into that minute by the masses.

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Re: Is Happiness Important?
« Reply #14 on: October 29, 2012, 07:14:48 am »
Quote from: EJay;77154
Again, just thinking and wondering.  I'm an old lady of 47 and I wonder if a lot of younger folk's depression is because they feel they haven't achieved happiness and the opposite of happiness is depression.

This little article was a real eye-opener for me and I hadn't really thought about it before.  Pele is my patroness and she definitely never promises happiness, but there is a huge sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that I get working with her.

Maybe happiness is over-rated...?

 
I'd be wary of describing depression in that way. Depression is a recognised medical condition which is severely debilitating. It's not a synonym for "sad" - sorrow is part of it, but many of the symptoms are things like a lack of energy or inability to self-motivate. If you did just mean sad, then it was an unwise use of words. If you did mean genuine depression, however, I'm bothered by the implicit blame this worldview carries. Depression is caused by a twisty mix of hormones, genes, rational and irrational reasons - not a moral failing, unrealistic expectations or a result of our culture's warped definition of happiness.


To answer your question more broadly - it does strongly depend on your definition of happiness. Happiness - the way I understand it - is not an inherently selfish and frivolous feeling. It's more of a contentment and inner peace.

I would count fufillment and satisfaction and intellectual delight as part of happiness - doing your duty, following honour, helping others, can be happiness too. Spiritual enlightenment? I imagine it feels like happy contentment. Self improvement or knowledge - again, they bring me happiness. Because my definition is so broad, I fail to see what else there is but happiness to pursue.

I would certainly say the pursuit of happiness for its own sake, as if happiness is this state that one day you will get, is flawed. Happiness is more like an irregular rip tide - it has ebbs and flows. Or the weather. You don't just one day achive eternal summertime - it's a constant flux. So you pursue learning and charity and experiences and happiness often happens incidentally from that.
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