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Damian Przybyła

architect,

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the economy of happiness

Isn’t it just a vicious circle to pursuit happiness? Could we compare modern definition of happiness with modern consumerism?
When we consume happiness as products - looking for more to fulfill our expectations, we are automatically changing this happiness into our standards which don't make us happy anymore.
Is it about lowering expectations or infinite struggle for being happy? Or maybe analitical approach to “happines” is just as inefficient as scientific approach to religion and vice versa?

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    Jun 18 2012: another interesting framework to analyze happiness is the brain perception of happiness. and its neurochemical basis. Hapiness if considered the effect of dopamine on the brain can then be created by dopamine stimulants ... and that is what differ in every individual. but it is a fact that with time the same amount of dopamine will lose its effectiveness and you need to raise the dose to be able to feel as happy as before.

    It is a great question and I am waiting for more answers on the subject.
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      Jun 18 2012: thank you for reducing human emotions and values to biochemistry.
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        Jun 18 2012: That is a common mistake. people with no knowledge of neurology and biochemistry tend to associate human feelings and emotions with something higher than material perhaps something spiritual.Fortunately or Unfortunately that is not the reality. all your feelings and emotions are generated in a specific part of your brain called Amygdala. (google it). all that economy we are talking about and feeling of happiness can be formulated in very complex circuitry of brain rewarding systems and there are many neurotransmitters involved including the one mentioned above Dopamine.
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          Jun 18 2012: let me point out that you are escaping into generalization. your point was that happiness equals to dopamine. not that the brain, a machine of unimaginable complexity, is the ultimate source of feelings and thoughts.

          but even in your escape, you fell in the same trap. now you assign emotions to the amygdala. this is a similar blunt oversimplification. the source of human emotions are much broader than that, including conscious parts as well.
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        Jun 18 2012: you shoud begin reading comments more carefully, which part of my comment did say that happiness equals dopamine ??? it begins with "another interesting framework to analyze happiness is the brain perception of happiness" ...

        and I suppose it is the other way around. you are oversimplifying the truth by associating happiness to something vague and unknown that you have no idea what it is you are talking about yourself.

        I am not generalizing but as I mentioned (and you ignored) it is another framework to analyze happiness. there are of course other frameworks capable of explaining happiness as well.
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        Jun 18 2012: you are quoting out of context. the whole comment does not reflect the importance of Dopamine by itself.
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        Jun 18 2012: Yes you are right. there is one screen and as you say everyone can see that you have used it out of context. ... let me remind that sometimes being right to whatever the cost, is not as important as using every opportunity to learn something new. everyone is entitled to his own opinion and criticism shall not be threatening us but to teach and help us grow.
        Thank you for participating
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      Jun 23 2012: As a reply to Sina's first post, I think that you mention a very important fact that neuroscience and the chemical basis for emotions has proven, that a habituation effect exists. As you say, the effect of dopamine (as well as other neurotransmitters) diminishes while performing the same activity, feeling the same emotion or doing the same for quite some time. Therefore, I guess that one of the core things in all this is variety on a conceptual level. Since you won't ever be totally satisfied with buying stuff, it is kind of a waste of time and effort. But, since you won't ever be totally satisfied by anything else either, it is important to have the knowledge and awareness of what gives you pleasure in the moment, in the past and in the future.

      In that way, you can choose one dopamine-raising activity one day (my own example is running) and choose a different dopamine-raising activity the other, such as contributing to a TED-conversation. It is a matter of balance.
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        Jun 24 2012: Thank you Dear Jonas,
        I found your suggestion very useful and practical. choose one dopamine raising activity each day and surfing the motivation horizon with this strategy ... May I also suggest that we should replace the common dopamine raising activities with those that are less known to the crowd and are the most beneficial ones ... a surgeon in a movie had a 12 hour surgery, he save the patient's life and right after the surgery he said " I wonder why people do drugs ? you get so high doing this ..." the kind of dopamine we need is the kind we find here on TED man ... well said.
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    Jul 1 2012: Thank you Sina. That story about the surgeon is very on-the-point of what I'm talking about.

    Let us keep trying to convince people that there are other dopamine-raising activities than watching sitcoms and eating junk food, and do it in a language that speaks to them. Which is really a challenge.
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    Jun 18 2012: Subjectivity of perception automatically connects this problem of “happiness” with vast spectrum of conditions starting from cultural ones, as Krisztián mentioned before. As far as our brain effort is concerned I also share Sina’s opinion, what we call emotions are just abstract names for states of mind which are common for other species, we’re able to describe it using biochemistry, physics and so on - maybe this complexity of issue of happiness comes from exaggerated abstraction which we’re trying to put there?
    If we assume that happiness is a part of basic human needs (without going into structure of basic needs), it seems to me that happiness is always connected with aims (as Pat said) and with expectations (and effort). In this case every goal which is achieved gives you a pleasure or happiness (I would define pleasure as temporary state of mind which has to be supplied still) but in every case this analogy leads to a problem of happiness which is scattered into periods of time and cannot be defined without consideration of unhappiness: the higher happiness has happened to you – the higher expectations it developed and finally – the higher inner anxiety it will develop
    (setting goals – struggle for achievement – pleasurehappiness – increased expectations – lack of pleasure/happiness – setting goals – struggle for achievement)
    In this sense I compared achieving happiness with achieving products – both may lead to phony and temporary satisfaction. Maybe the easiest solution would be to achieve happiness from general facts which are undeniably great to experience - as life in general, and do not ever connect this source of happiness with needs, aims and expectations – if they really require as much effort to be happy.
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    Jun 18 2012: Does rest members of the animal kingdom also have the feelings of happiness who don't have any economics?
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    Jun 17 2012: the economy of happiness is called economy. people pursue their own goals. is that a new flat tv? is that a ticket to a broadway act? is that a book? is that the cost of some course? a bigger house? a life insurance policy? both of these can improve happiness, and both of these are brought about by human effort under the condition of scarcity. scarcity of resources and time. by definition, human activity under the condition of scarcity is the economy.
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      Jun 18 2012: I think what Damian had in mind is to analyze the economy of Happiness in which Happiness itself is on the stake rather than money and in that sense economy of happiness can not be called just "economy". although economy itself does affect the economy of happiness but it is just one factor among many.
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        Jun 18 2012: thank you for explaining the opening question. but i was answering to exactly that. economy of happiness is the economy. there is no other goal to economy than to increase happiness. that is the only motivation.
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          Jun 18 2012: The fact that the goal of economy is happiness does not mean that the economy of happiness is economy. Is Fuel efficiency equal to efficiency ? you are missing the point.
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        Jun 18 2012: is that supposed to be a logical argument or a factual one? because it does not work on logical level. i exactly emphasized that there are no other economies, only the economy of happiness. every human activity is aimed at increasing happiness. or if your statement supposed to be a factual one, and you are claiming that there are other types of economies, where is the actual argument? it is not enough to just state that. show me how and where my argument is wrong, or show me an economy that is not aimed at increasing happiness. key is aimed. success is not a criteria.
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          Jun 18 2012: when we are talking about economy we should be asking economy of what ? ... in this particular case it is the economy of happiness. what you meant is that economy in its general sense leads to happiness therefore it is economy of happiness. we are not talking about causes of happiness but on the amount of happiness itself.
          it is so obvious ...
          we aren't talking about the amount of money and its economy that may lead to happiness. we are talking about the variable amount of happiness that we can be used to it or prepare conditions to feel it more.
          not every economy is "The Economy".
          Fuel Economy is not Economy for example. I can not be more elaborative.
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        Jun 18 2012: yet another escape to generalization. i'm not going to waste more time on this, so just state once more: The Economy, the economy we mean when we just say economy, which consists of companies, factories, shopping malls, money, savings, capital and all these stuff is in fact the economy of happiness.

        fuel economy is your addition to the conversation, and bears no relevance for us now, at all.
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          Jun 18 2012: Fuel Economy is just an example of other types of economy and a proof that not every economy is "The Economy". I have used that example to clarify the subject under discussion.
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          Jun 18 2012: Sina

          You are using the wrong definition of economy. The definition of economy that the Damian is referring to is:

          Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses.

          Economics is the study of how society allocates scarce resources and goods. Resources are the inputs that society uses to produce output, called goods. Resources include inputs such as labor, capital, and land. Goods include products such as food, clothing, and housing as well as services such as those provided by barbers, doctors, and police officers. These resources and goods are considered scarce because of society's tendency to demand more resources and goods than are available.
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          Jun 18 2012: I would also add that homo saps are only happy when they are pursuing a purpose and a goal pursuant to that purpose. Whether or not you get a dopamine high from that is a digression as that is not the ultimate goal.

          Actually the ultimate goal for all forms of life is to survive. As part of survival we survive as a species as a consequence of this we serve others. Which is organic to us and organic to the economy.

          Socialism is not organic to us and it is not organic to the economy.
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          Jun 18 2012: Pat,

          you tend to define "economy" and you paste the definition of "economics" !
          that is why you think I use the wrong definition of economy, please try again and look up the meaning of "economy" instead of "economics", that is what Damian meant.


          and may I also draw your attention to this excerpt of the original question:
          "When we consume happiness as products".
          economy of happiness in the sense that we analyze happiness as if it is a product.

          Thank you for your concern
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          Jun 18 2012: Pat,

          you say " homo saps are only happy when they are pursuing a purpose"
          how do you think they know they are happy ?
          if homo saps are "Happy" it means their brain reward system is sending happiness signals.

          getting a Dopamine high is not a by-product of happiness. it is part of a system that creates happiness.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reward_system
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          Jun 18 2012: Yea but don't I get extra points for knowing what to cut and paste? Have you read this definition by Lionell Robbins before?

          Economics or Economy are interchangeable in the context of the original question.

          Happiness is an adjective not an object. It is not possible to consume it is a description of a condition.
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          Jun 18 2012: how do you think they know they are happy ?

          Because they have achieved or are achieving goals.


          if homo saps are "Happy" it means their brain reward system is sending happiness signals.

          getting a Dopamine high is not a by-product of happiness. it is part of a system that creates happiness.

          That is psychobabble and wrong.
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          Jun 18 2012: Pat,

          "how do you think they know they are happy ?
          Because they have achieved or are achieving goals."

          you lack the understanding of emotion generation and think that if an entity is aware of its goal achievement it should be happy. that entity under discussion interprets achievement as happiness only via its reward system signals.

          This is not in the field of psychology my friend.

          you are simply thinking that if one achieves a goal then he must be happy , unaware of the complex structures in the brain that create the very happiness feeling in the first place. please refer to the link I provided to understand the reward system as I do not have any gain in discussing such matters when you label these scientific facts "psychobabble and wrong."
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          Jun 18 2012: My thinking on this is that psychobabbology does not consider that man is an aggregate and part of that aggregate is a spiritual dynamic and to speak of man as only sentient because of a brain is to speak of man in the pejorative.
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        Jun 18 2012: :D

        so you, who claim that happiness is the product of dopamine and the amygdala, say that pat's views are lacking in complexity.
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          Jun 18 2012: Your scornful message with laughter reminded me of a quote.

          " Those who do not understand something, Laugh at it."
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    Jun 17 2012: Happiness is the pursuit and achievement of goals. Any economy that creates the stage for that will work.

    Have you seen people who specialize in consumption genuinely happy?

    If you hit your goals make new ones.

    What is the purpose of life? The purpose of life is to live.