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Bernard White


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Which "should" (or would) you take : - The Red pill (reality and the truth) / sadness or - The blue pill (illusion and lies) / happiness

I'm interested in how people would understand so to make this more interesting I pose two other questions as well:

1. If you could take a "Happy pill" which would alter your mind, (with no side effects) so that you would always be happy?
2. If you realized you were on the "Happy pill" would you stop taking it? And realize that reality is far much worse?

I personally would take + stay on the happy pill.
But it is important to remember your emotional state, and the present vs future state, will greatly impact how you make this decision.

Sorry I feel I forgot to mention in the original description, the world in this scenario is "okay" (not perfect or brilliant) and this pill is available to everybody :) (Is this changing the thought experiment "too much"?)
I apologize for not making this clearer.

I hope this debate will be taken up in good spirit! :)


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    Mar 21 2013: I believe happiness is really not caring if I am happy. So I would not take any pill. If you insist, I will take the Red pill. It may not be a good idea to be uphorically happy with so much suffering around me.
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      Mar 21 2013: But if this pill was available to everybody?
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        Mar 21 2013: Then I will have you take the red pill and watch you closely before taking it myself.
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          Mar 21 2013: And if no side effects happened, and then everything became a lot "better" for me? :)
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        Mar 21 2013: Bernard and Pabitra,
        First of all, I don't like taking pills, so it's not likely I would take one to try to create happiness, AND, I believe that happiness is a choice for which I do not need a pill:>)

        Secondly, I agree with Pabitra, that true happiness/contentment is simply "being". In my perception, one does not have to always focus on the idea of happiness/contentment.....it just "IS" part of the life experience.....or not. Happiness is a way of travel...not only a destination:>)

        You seem to be seperating "reality and the truth/sadness" (Red pill), from "illusion and lies) / happiness " (Blue pill)

        So, you perceive reality and truth as sadness, and illusion and lies as happiness? Do you not see that one can be happy/content with reality and truth, just as one can be happy/content with illusion and lies? One can also choose to feel sadness with reality, truth, illusion and lies.

        Our PERCEPTION colors the life experience, just as it colors the pills:>)
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          Mar 21 2013: I suppose when I would say "reality and truth/sadness" I have always found the "truth" under all the lies to be quite upsetting. For instance people can lie that they like you when they don't. While I 99% agree with you that happiness should be a journey not a destination.
          But I find it difficult to accept that one could be equally happy with the truth, than with lies. But with all I have studied in psychology this would make some sense...
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        Mar 21 2013: You state the important words Bernard...."I have always found the "truth" under all the lies to be quite upsetting".

        That is your perception. One could experience joy with the discovery of truth under all the lies.....see what I mean?

        To use your example..."people can lie that they like you when they don't".

        How does that impact you? The lie is theirs....not yours. If you know s/he is lying, it simply gives you information about that person.

        If you "find it difficult to accept that one could be equally happy with the truth, than with lies", that is a choice you are making for yourself....it doesn't have anything to do with anyone else. It is your own perception....perhaps colored by information you have received in the past?

        You say..."But with all I have studied in psychology this would make some sense..."

        What would make sense? To me, it doesn't make sense to seperate and catagorize, as you have done in this discussion.
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          Mar 21 2013: I think the fundamental problem I have is that changing your perception doesn't necessarily guarantee happiness.
          I mean the Jews in Nazi Germany concentration camps could try and "choose" to be happy, but probably wouldn't succeed. While the truth no matter what would be they would have a high probability of being killed, and no matter whether they are "lied" to this would still be the case.
          While if they were lied to, it would increase their chances of being happy, rather than having the daunting anticipation of death, which they would have no knowledge of when it would come.
          For they could change their perception all they want, but this doesn't change the truth.
          Sorry to sound slightly depressing.
          Kind Regard Bernard.
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        Mar 21 2013: Dear Bernard,
        There are no guarantees in life. In my humble perception and experience, life is an exploration. So, the more I can open the mind and heart to the process and possibilities, the better.

        Actually, there are many true stories of people in concentration camps who chose to focus on helping others, playing music, etc., and it apparently made their experience less horrible. You're right, they were probably lied to, and it did not change their perception within the limited situation.

        Do you honestly think/feel that those who were in concentration camps were not aware that death was a possibility for them in each and every moment? Do you think they were not aware of what was going on around them? I suggest that many of them knew exactly what was happening. It is not that difficult to identify the smell of burning flesh. Some of these folks who KNEW, continued to take care of, and help others.

        It did not change the truth, and it did not change their perception of truth. It DID change their perception of how they were living their lives in that moment.....make any sense?

        A personal example....
        Years ago, I sustained a near fatal head injury....was not expected to live.....when I did live, was not expected to ever function normally again. This was rather "shocking" news when I regained consciousness and could not function. What the hell am I going to do now? What will life be like for me?

        I could not change the fact that I was brain damaged, and I could have wallowed in self pity for the rest of my life. I could have taken a Red pill and experienced the reality and truth with sadness in my heart and mind. I could have taken a blue pill and lived a life of illusion, lies and happiness.

        I chose the purple pill....I faced the reality and truth....sometimes experienced sadness and fear....and I continued to live life with happiness, contentment, and a resolve to learn, grow and evolve from the experience. Make any sense?
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          Mar 21 2013: Out of interest, are your views quite similar/ different to "Gail (formerly TED Lover)".
          Who beleives that happiness is a choice. Ask him. It shall be interested in read :)
          Just to say with your personal example, I admire you for it and can now see your logic far more clearly.
          I must admit you do have a lot of truth in these words (your reply). While helping others, due to evolution, would be a lot more happy (proven that altruisic deeds make you more happy) :).
          Have you read "The power of Now"? Because it suggests what you are saying, and I have met and heard many psychologists saying that if only people would live in the present a bit more and stop "imagining" and worrying about the future.
          I am sorry I am not able to give you a full reply.
          I mean I have read many psychology books on positive psychology (e.g Stumbling upon happiness, The paradox of choice, Orgigins of pleasure). And I must admit the most amazing fact was that humans Synthesis happiness, and that as long you are a satisfyer then you will always be "satisfied"/ happy. And that "less choice" (While you still need some choice, and autonmy) leads to more happiness.
          Would recommend you :
          Tali Sharot: The optimism bias:
          Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness:
          Dan Gilbert: Why we make bad decisions:
          I hope this helps. :)
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        Mar 24 2013: Hi Bernard,
        It appears that "Gail (formerly TED Lover)" and I share many similar thoughts, ideas, and perspectives, and yes, it appears we are on the same page regarding happiness being a choice.

        The information I share is true for me.....it may not be truth for others. I accept and respect that, because I am not trying to convince anyone that I am "right", or that what I think I know is the only truth.

        I believe that we are all connected with energy, so when we connect with others on a physical level (words, interactions, etc), we are like mirrors, reflecting ideas back and forth all the time. When one gets "stuck" in their own belief, the reflection is interupted. It is not necessary to totally accept everything everyone says as OUR OWN belief. The important piece is to accept it as THEIR belief......AS LONG AS THE BELIEF AND PRACTICE OF THE BELIEF DOES NOT ADVERSLY IMPACT OTHER PEOPLE.

        With the idea that we are all connected, helping others, encouraging and supporting others in their life journey, is actually helping ourselves as well.

        Yes, I read "The Power of Now" a long time ago, and it made a LOT of sense to me when I read it. I agree that living in the moment, and discontinuing the mind chatter about all sorts of things that are imagined, projected, worried about and/or not relevant to the moment creates more contentment in our lives.

        That which is called "Positive psychology", "New Age", etc., embrace beliefs and practices that have been indroduced to us throughout history by teachers, gurus, sages, psychologists, etc. etc.

        One does not have to be a "satisfyer" to be "satisfied". This suggests that if we simply keep pleasing others we will be happy/content? That is not how it works in my perception and experience.

        As I said in another comment....I watched the videos you recommend quite some time ago:>)
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          Mar 25 2013: Yes I like the subject of positive psychology a lot! (And have quite a few books, because it fascinates me how counter intuitive happiness actually is!)
          I find Daniel Gilberts message amazing though, how we can synthesise happiness (and how sometimes less choice equates to more happiness!) , and how that we are poor at predicting risk and value of certain actions.
          While the subject which fascinates me the most (and probably upsets me the most) is the psychology of aggression and evil, and how you can make 'almost' anybody into a killer when you want. Watch :
          Philip Zimbardo: The psychology of evil
          Dan Ariely: Our buggy moral code :
          I have read lots of books on the matter. To mention a few :
          The lucifer effect
          The honest truth about dishonesty
          Mistakes were made but not by me (a book which effected me a lot!)
          On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
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        Mar 25 2013: Bernard,
        How or why do you perceive happiness to be "counter intuitive"?

        I suggest that one reason less choice may equate to more happiness, is because with more choices, our brain gets bogged down with information, making the choices more difficult. When there are fewer choices, the brain is less cluttered with mind chatter:>)

        I do not agree that we (you mean humans?) are "poor at predicting risk and value of certain actions". The more we are mindfully aware, and KNOW our "self", the better we are at evaluating information, therefore better able to consider risk and value.

        I do not believe you can "make almost anybody into a killer". Although, as humans, that instinct may be possible in any of us, as thinking, feeling intelligent beings, we have choices.
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          Mar 25 2013: I feel that even once you have all the data and are "self-aware" sometimes you can not make the most rational decision (sometime due to how the data is framed, or how you are "anchored" to certain parts of data, or due to your ego ect...)
          "How or why do you perceive happiness to be "counter intuitive"?".
          Because what makes you happy is different from what you would expect, therefore counter intuitive. In the way it would make more sense to assume : "Once I get that new "T.V, game, painting ect" then I will be happy" While this is not the case.
          I hope this has answered your question.
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        Mar 25 2013: Bernard,
        That is what I mean when I say "know thyself". When we "know" ourself, we can frame the information in many different ways without getting "anchored" (attached) to certain parts of the data.

        Yes....if we have expectations, then sometimes our expectations are not consistant with reality, and that can be disappointing. When we let go of expectations, we may discover something different!

        Yes....of course....if one assumes that external "stuff" will make him/her happy, then there is the possibility for disappointment.

        When one knows that happiness does not come from external stimuli, one has no expectations of happiness through that avenue. It makes no sense to me at all to assume that once I get the new TV, game, painting etc. I will be happy.

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