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! :)

  • Mar 21 2013: I disagree with your premise that realism is necessarily sad, and that happiness is the result of illusion and lies.

    That is utter nonsense. If you see no goodness and have no hope, you are being unrealistic

    Engaging in sadness and pessimism is self indulgence, in the same degree as engaging in happiness and optimism.

    Choose any attitude, you can always rationalize your choice.
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      Mar 21 2013: Please define "self indulgence".
      While, and correct me if I am wrong, never said : I "see no goodness and have no hope". Of course there is lots of "goodness" (please define as well) and "hope" in the world.
      While the "pill" would give you the illusion of "happiness" and that nobody would ever have to worry about anything again. (Thus getting rid of all "sadness" and "pessimism" thus creating a form of utopia, considering the fact that the external world was okay.)
      • Mar 21 2013: Sorry, I meant to say "If one sees no goodness ... "

        I choose to not define the common terms used above.

        I would have no interest in your pills. If I found out that someone was somehow feeding me a pill that distorted reality I would certainly stop taking it. (To be completely honest, I do sometimes take a pain pill.)

        There is reality, and then there is one's attitude toward reality. I have a great deal of control over my attitude. I know that there are people who claim that they have no control over their reactions to the world around them. I believe they lack the proper training.
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    Gail .

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    Mar 21 2013: Happiness is a choice. Those who go through life depressed have developed a habit of thinking unhappy thoughts. These unhappy thoughts cause certain chemicals to increase and others to decrease, thus making adjustments in the body that are sometimes alleviated with medication (the happy pill). But the pill is not the cure. It is a treatment for a symptom that is caused by a conflicted and mistaken belief system. Fix the belief system and you will always choose truth/reality, and there will be no unhappiness that you do not personally choose.

    You are responsible for your thoughts.
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      Mar 21 2013: I would be inclined to agree.
      But if the "system" is already perfect, yet everybody is still not "happy".
      Would you still not take it?
      "Happiness is a choice". Not sure how much I agree with this though. I mean sue you can "choose" to be more optimistic, but this doesn't guarantee "happiness".
      While you will always synthesise happiness (which isn't really a "choice") so in that sense happiness really isn't a choice. (Look up Hedonistic treadmill!) ;)
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        Gail .

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        Mar 21 2013: If you always choose happiness (which is within your power), how could you ever be unhappy? Always choosing happiness guarantees happiness.

        Try it right now. Stop what you are doing and choose to be happy for 10 seconds. Easy, right? Now work on extending that so that it will become a habit - no matter what is happening outside of you. Happiness guarantees happiness just as misery guarantees misery.
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          Mar 21 2013: "how could you ever be unhappy".
          There can't be happiness without sadness. Unless you alter perception. And that is what this "pill" would do.
          It is quite hard to just be "happy". I mean it doesn't provide any evolutionary advantage as well. Because to "survive" you need to be happy and confident enough to deal with the problem, sad enough to deal with it.
          While if there was "no problem" I can't see any reason why you wouldn't take the happy pill.
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          Mar 21 2013: Actually after thinking about this comment. I am afraid to say I couldn't really disagree more. I mean sure pursuing happiness is a choice (I mean I try to be happy) while many don't succeed. Personally though I am usually quite a happy person, not really because I choose to be though.
          i mean i can choose to try and be happy but won't necessarily be happy. E.G Jews in Nazi Germany gas chambers could try and "choose" to be happy, but probably wouldn't succeed. I hope my point makes more sense now!
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        Gail .

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        Mar 21 2013: The idea that there can be no happiness without concurrent sadness is a cultural myth.

        Yes it's hard work developing the habit of being happy. But the hard work comes with its own rewards.

        I don't need to be sad to deal with a challenge (as opposed to problem). I only need to be connected with my conscience, from whence all solutions come.

        I wouldn't take the happy pill because I have developed healthy thinking habits AND, even if I am not 100% consistent YET, anything that distorts reality is dangerous.

        I believe that happiness is a strong and distinct evolutionary advantage for those who dwell in it. Fear (the father of sadness) also has a strong and distinct evolutionary advantage, but it is an unsustainable advantage unless the mind-set changes from fear-based to consciousness-based. Look at all the troubles in the world. The current paradigm is causing them, yet I know, because I live in a consciousness-based reality, that I am fine no matter what is going on out there in the world. With a view like that, there is no room for sadness, so the pill would be meaningless.

        Furthermore, if there is a mistake in my worldview (the cause of fear), and a happy pill masks that, I can't fix the mistake, and my life is all the less for that.
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          Mar 21 2013: I don't know why, but I have a feeling that you are a extreme optimist, which would heavily effect how you would calculate risk. Which is bad for evolution.
          I'm afraid to say I am not understanding your argument very well.
          Basically I feel that you are saying : I have already achieved happiness, therefore the pill would be useless. And happiness is somehow related to conciseness, and hat conciseness has all the answers. As in another reply : Please define conciseness.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 21 2013: I'm not an optimist. I'm a realist.

        Happiness is part of being self-aware or aware of and in tune with my own consciousness / conscience. (I didn't say or imply conciseness, though I am being as concise as I know how to be as I attempt to bridge the gap of understanding between us).

        You cannot understand that which you do not know. What I am speaking of has to be experienced. You have obviously never experienced your union with all that is. (universal consciousness) and you have not yet found the meaning of logic. My logic is logical, but your line of thinking is not logical. How do I know? Because was once you. My awakening started with questions such as yours, but my questions were accompanied by an open mind that you do not yet have.

        I don't think that I can be of much help to you for as long as you defend the myth's sentience.
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          Mar 21 2013: I'm sorry. (I would probably define you as a "optimistic realist", so in that sense you would still be an optimist) Maybe I hope to have this experience but until then, I don't think I will ever be able to understand you
          Yet I do feel that I have an open mind, I am willing to be corrected (for I view it is vital for people to be able to admit their wrong for society to advance) yet I do not view I have been wrong!
          While I'd be interested to hear your opinion on this :
          A study was done which found that people usually thought the other was wrong because they were :
          1. Stupid
          2. Had the wrong data (which people thought once they realized they weren't stupid)
          3. They were ignorant or evil (once they realized they had the same data and weren't stupid).
          I would be interested to hear your opinion on this.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 21 2013: I am not an optimist because I don't "hope" for the best or worst for anyone or anything. I create my reality. I accept what I create. That's not optimism. It's realism. I know that this is going over your head a little, but that's a good thing - to stretch your way of thinking.

        I'm not suggesting that you are a narrow-minded tyrant. I'm only suggesting that you know very little about your world. In another place, you said that you weren't sure if Santa Clause exists or not. That is certainly young. I would have thought that anyone on this forum would have outgrown that fantasy character by now. Hope I didn't hurt you too much by busting your balloon. But you must have been ready to hear it or the words would not have appeared on your screen.

        I don't think that you are stupid. You are young and inexperienced. You are not expected to have figured out everything by now. No one has figured out everything. It's just that some of us have figured out more than others. Life is a journey. It isn't a contest.

        I don't think that you have the wrong data. I do think that you don't have enough of available data. Again, because you are young and haven't had time to find it - which it seems you are seeking now.

        I don't think it would be fair to call you ignorant because you are looking for answers, and ignorant people don't do that. I would certainly not call you evil because evil doesn't exist except in peoples' imaginations.

        You do not think that you have been wrong in this because your thinking is exactly like the type of thinking that you are being trained to think like. But I am asking you to think differently, to question differently, to see a far grander reality than most of the world lives in, to get in touch with your awareness of your own power.
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          Mar 21 2013: "I create my reality. I accept what I create". To me brings a japanese proverb quote : "People live their lives bound by what they accept as correct and true. That's how they define "reality". But what does it mean to be "correct" or "true"? Merely vague concepts… their "reality" may all be a mirage. Can we consider them to simply be living in their own world, shaped by their beliefs?"
          "In another place, you said that you weren't sure if Santa Clause exists or not." Just like I am not sure whether God (from the christian definition) exists. I mean I view it as highly unlikely. But there is no way to prove or disprove Santa Claus, so I would have to be an agnostic about Santa. :) I mean I'm an agnostic about whether other people exist or not. But live my life as if other people exist, because there is no harm in doing so.
          That's what I mean when I say I'm not sure whether Santa Claus exists.
          In the way my definition of "belief" is : Most probable, and nothing is truly certain.
          And the fact remains : No matter how logical and rational something may seem, it doesn't mean it is true! Because one of the logical steps may be wrong.
          But I feel I am getting too side tracked with my own debate I started. :)
          I thank you for being patient and listening, and submitting your opinion (even though I think sometimes that you are wrong, not to say that we shouldn't carry on!) :)
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        Gail .

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        Mar 21 2013: It is true that the most basic untestable things are not certain, but there is evidence showing how Santa was invented, how he evolved, and how he came into being the way he is currently presented. There IS no Santa Clause living in a village at the North Pole. Our technology would have discovered that village thus further banishing the idea as a lie.

        There is also evidence that IF god exists, it is nothing like the God of Abraham - in the slightest. It is non-threatening. It might even have died in the big bang.

        Evenso, you will not find too many who will agree on any definition of that which is because no one knows if all the things that you see around you really exist. That's fine. But when someone tells me that I will go to hell if I don't follow his religious path, that person has crossed the line and what he believes DOES affect me if he mixes his religion up with government that passes laws that discriminate against me and others - as is the case around the world when it comes to the religions based on the Abrahamic Gods.

        Yes, long conversation. Enjoyed it. I'll end it now unless you ask more questions.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 21 2013: More Panentheist. I am a god. You are a god. We are a god. But I do believe that spiritual ignorance is the heart of all suffering (I won't use the word evil because I don't believe in it.) Desire is just a subset of fear, which is a result of spiritual ignorance.

        I'm pretty sure I have seen the Dan Gilbert talks, but not the optimism bias. I'll review them.

        Hey, thanks for the long dialogue. Happy searching! Bye.
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          Mar 25 2013: I personally would say rationalisation is the heart of all suffering. Not desire. :)
          While after thinking about it for quite a while I have come to accept I may have been wrong about happiness not being a choice. I admit that it probably is to a certain extent! (While I still standby to say that it doesn't guarantee it but certainly makes it far more likely!) :)
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: Please justify your claim: " I personally would say rationalisation is the heart of all suffering. Not desire. :)" Why would you say that. Anyone who knows how to think rationally would not say anything as irrational as that.
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          Mar 25 2013: Because even if you have desire, you wouldn't do anything "immoral" if you couldn't "rationlize" it.
          E.G Stealing is wrong.
          I stole a pencil (because i desired a pencil.
          It was okay I stole a pencil because it is only a pencil after all.
          While if you could not do the 3rd step, you would only desire the pencil, but you would never steal the pencil.
          Hope I have explained this well enough. :)
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          Mar 25 2013: Sorry I am not sure whether I got your reply.
          Do you mind sending it again? :D
          I only saw the beginning.
          Please explain why I am wrong, because I am just saying what seems most likely to me. (And to Dan Ariely, and Philip Zimabardo.
          I mean yes in the most fundamental form desire is the cause of all suffering, pleasure, neutrality ect ect. But it is Rationalization which enables us to act upon these desires.
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        Mar 25 2013: You are very unaware of your own internal processes. Further discussion is wasted effort. You don't know what you are talking about and don't' want to know.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: How can someone as irrational as you speak of rationality at all? This is not said to offend you, but rather, to encourage you to think more deeply about HOW you think (as opposed to what you think). You make no sense.
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          Mar 25 2013: Do you mind defining "rationality" to make more sense to me.
          Is rationality "maximizing utility"
          Is it "with reason, being reasonable"
          or is it something else? :)
          While I this could just be a cognitive bias (for me), but I'm not sure why i'm being irrational at all.
          I mean are you saying this just because I disagree with you? (I'm rational, he's disagreeing with me, therefore he must be irrational?)
          While even though I disagree with you one some things, I don't view you as irrational....
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: Rational = logical. You add things like evil and morals (etc) to explain away what you have not yet used logic to define. If you can prove or simply present scientific evidence that evil and morals exist or even could exist - then you may do that. But you cannot prove that evil exists any more than you can prove that God exists, therefore, the conversation only SEEMS TO make sense to you because your beliefs tell you that it makes sense. To all those who have taken the time to comprehend the idea of evil, the idea makes no sense whatsoever because it is so irrational. If you REALLY think about evil, (not just surface scanning or emotional reactivity) you too will walk away from the idea.

        Most people are unaware of what lies in their belief structures. Therefore, they do not change those that they have outgrown, those that conflict with one another, those that are untested assumptions, and those that are just plain wrong. Until you do that, you will not know what rational means and no one can tell you in a way that you will understand. The rational do not speak irrationally, nor do they speak lies because a lie is a irrational act.
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          Mar 25 2013: Also I have been logical, so therefore rational. But whether my logic is right or wrong, is different from rationality. :)
          Well I forgot to mention.
          I define Evil as "an intention or action to harm someone physically, mentally or spiritually."
          And I think you can find that exists in our world. Just look at someone who harms someone else, and from my definition the concept of "evil" must exist.
          Hope my logic now makes more sense to you.
          And for that intention to take place, humans require an ability to rationalize their actions.
          So yes desire is the fundamental cause of most emotions, and intentions. While if they are just intentions and desires, it requires rationalization for them to become actions.
          E.G you can make people do evil due to : Dehumanization of the enemy, conformity to the group + a need to be socially accepted, bystander effect, obedience to authority, conflict of interests, wearing alternate uniforms associated with certain identities. All of these encourages the rationalization of these "aggressive + harmful" behaviours.
          I have explained this badly haven't I? If I have please say.
          I mean if desire is the fundamental thing which causes suffering that doesn't really do much to be honest. Because pleasure is also caused by desire. So if you got rid of desire, then we would just be sort of zombies. (With no pleasure nor suffering.)
          I hope this helps, I apologize I have not structured this reply very well.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: If you're just going to make up your own definitions of words as you go along (irrational if you want to have a rational discussion) then you may as well just go on talking to yourself. Words have meanings that are commonly understood. It is irrational to have an uncommon meaning for a word and not include a glossary before writing any text. You can't expect people to know what you don't tell them, and if you do, you are being irrational.

        Emotions are an indication that there is an error in your belief system. They are not the children of desire. It takes belief (thought constructs) to create emotions that spur action. You confuse thought with rational thought. These are two different things. When you learn how to think rationally, you will no longer be owned by emotions because you will have cleaned out your tangled belief system. Emotions will seem to evaporate from your life, as will your ego, at which time something far better than happiness takes its place..
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          Mar 25 2013: PART 1
          I feel this is a better way of explaining what I meant. :)
          I did not mean rationality is the cause of all evil (in the way of logical thought). Defining Evil as : "An intentional action to harm someone physically, mentally or spiritually". I do not feel this is changing the definition due to the Oxford dictionary agreeing with me, and many others as well. Also even if it wasn't a true definition, there are so many different definitions of God and Happiness then it wouldn't make sense to say many of them are irrational.
          I mean if I defined Evil as a chair, then that probably would be irrational because they are not related much.
          It definatley isn't. I could see why you would think that was irrational.
          What I meant to say was . It is the ability to "rationalize our actions" which can be achieved through many ways. Let's say you stole a pencil you "could" say to "rationalize" your actions by saying :
          1. The person i stole the pencil from deserved it (a slight dehumanization)
          2. Everybody was stealing pencils. (Social conformity)
          3. I was ordered to steal a pencil/ had no choice. (Obedience to authority)
          4. I was tired and I needed that pencil. (Your emotional state)
          5. Nobody stopped me from taking the pencil so it must have been okay. (abusing the bystander effect/ social judgement)
          6. I helped someone from stealing the pencil. (Evil caused by an altruistic motive)
          7. It was only a pencil! Get over it! :D (Distances yourself from the responsibility)
          I mean there are many ways we can "rationalize" our actions. (You can probably think of some more)
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          Mar 25 2013: PART 2
          While if we could not "rationalize" our desire to kill someone we would not do it.
          E.G "I want to kill X" that would be a desire. But you would require something to "rationalize your actions" E.G "I want to kill X because he is evil, and it will help my family".
          I hoped I have explained this well enough!.
          Rationalize = Makes seem reasonable. Not Rationality. Rationality = Logical thought or in other contexts, the decision which maximized your utility!
          While I accept that defining these things may be completely subjective. As you would argue, I mean as Colleen Steen pointed out very well, everybody has some form of subjective truth, what is true to them.(E.G the data and knowledge they have, so what they say is logical and rational to them, but isn't the "truth" to you. While no matter about these "subjective truths" there is still an objective truth!) While once you have defined Good and Evil you can then calculate objective what will cause the most amount of "harm". Which I would label as objective morality.
          While if you don't define Good and Evil I feel that there isn't really such thing as morality and all actions are just actions!
          I mean yes Morality and justice (and many other things) are just human constructs.
          Just to say I deleted my last comment, because I felt it wasn't very constructive!
          I hope these 2 comments explain my beliefs a lot better!
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: Morality is a human construct. Justice as YOU understand it is a human construct. Justice as "I" understand it is not. Evil doesn't exist and if you think about it thoroughly, you will agree.

        Beliefs determine how you will rationalize a behavior. Beliefs are either learned from others or they are chosen and they might change over time. But you cannot say that Beliefs are the root of all suffering because beliefs form the fabric of our realities. By your description, someone who chooses "good" would be creating suffering just as someone who chooses "evil" would.

        Yes, if you don't define Good and Evil, there really isn't such a thing as morality, so talking about morality to me, who doesn't believe in Good and Evil or a moral code is a waste of your efforts.

        First are beliefs. If they are valid, you experience satisfaction and ease of life. If they are invalid you experience dissatisfaction in the form of emotion. Thoughts PRECEDE emotions.

        If you live with dissatisfaction, you will make very different choices than if you life with satisfaction. Because your choices are different, so too will be your consequences.

        If you believe that you are powerless, you will join those who demand an army and police force and all sorts of thought police to keep those you fear in check. You might even look for a God to protect you. But if you believe that no one can harm you without your consent, then you will not be harmed. You will not experience the fear the other you lives with moment by moment - so much so that it is no longer recognized.

        I have tested the safety thing. More than once I have been in a life or death situation and did not use violence in the name of self defense, because I believe that it is irrational to do so. It would actually cause me greater harm or even death.

        I believe all are one, and separations you see among us are perceptual illusion. Thus to harm you is to harm me. Not morality. Just common sense. I'm a powerful "beiing".
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          Mar 25 2013: Ofcouse so many things are human constructs, but this doesn't prevent us from objectively independently (getting rid of our cognitive biases) calculating what is "right" depending on your definitions.
          I mean shake-spear said : "Nothing is good or bad without thinking it so." (Might have got this quote slightly wrong, but you get the gist.)
          Why do believe it is common sense that "to harm you is to harm me", I'm pretty sure that is a form of morality!
          While if there is no morality it has two implications for you:
          1. You can never ever claim that you have a moral compass.
          2. I can kill you and there is nothing wrong or evil with that. Wrong and Evil imply morality.
          And If I kill you that is not harming me at all! (Assuming I get away with the consequences in terms of material world!)
          I would be interested to see how you answer this. Because with your own moral code, of their being no morality and good and evil. You can't claim this would be bad at all. (Or beneficial for that matter)
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: I do not claim to have a moral compass.
        If you could kill me against my will (which you cannot), there is nothing wrong or evil with that.
        If all are one, if you harm me, you harm yourself equally, and if I allow you to kill me, I harm you equally.

        BUT: as I believe in the eternal validity of the soul(s) (universal consciousness that we are) and I believe that energy is self-aware - to go back to one of our first conversations - even rocks have consciousness, as do atoms and galaxies and civilizations, and energy does not die because it does not live in time, I am eternal as the greater part of my "being". I think that in the scheme of eternal, if I were to allow you to kill me, we will at some point figure out where we made our mistake in our beliefs, and we will probably try again using more rational beliefs.
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          Mar 25 2013: "If you could kill me against my will (which you cannot), there is nothing wrong or evil with that.
          If all are one, if you harm me, you harm yourself equally, and if I allow you to kill me, I harm you equally."
          Yes I could kill you against your will. Easily assananate you with a sniper rifle. Your dead against your own will. There are so many ways I could kill you against your will. That (in my opinion) is an ignorant statement, unless you mean it in something metaphorical.
          And If I harm you, I don't harm myself at all. I mean If I shot you please explain how this would harm me? If I didn't feel much empathy (which sometime I don't) towards other people, then I'm not really sure how this would harm me at all..... Physically? You'd be dead. Emotionally? I wouldn't feel empathy for you (or more a psychopath wouldn't) under certain psychological conditions.
          Spiritually? Not really, if God doesn't exist,or at least the God you are talking about wouldn't really care.
          SORRY! I apologize deeply. After reading this comment I realized it was really sadistic. But I would still like you to answer for I feel there isn't really any other way of explaining it! :(
          Energy is not self-aware nor is matter!!!!! Even Dogs aren't self-aware, so how on earth is something animate like matter meant to self aware?
          Also if you say "which you cannot" in refernce to if I could find you! I could always hire a hacker to find out all your details. From your TED account alone I have realized you live roughly :
          United States, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Sorry if this is going a bit too "far" to prove my point!)
          Your female which narrows it down a lot!
          Sorry to sound like a MASSIVE STALKER. haha :D (Hopefully you won't take offence!)
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: Where do morals come from? What are morals?
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          Mar 25 2013: From Evolution.
          And wanting to do altruistic deeds (empathy + Theory of the mind), yet at the same time wanting to survive (pre theory of mind).
          A bit like the present vs future self argument. In the way that we can dehumanize people, which then reduces our moral responsibility.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: I do hope that you will reply to my earlier comment. The questions were meant to be merely a PS and I can't reply to your comment until I know how you will reply to mine.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 25 2013: Well, I guess it's your opinion vs. mine. The difference I see is that I have faced imminent death and imminent rape, and I have diffused both situations leaving me quite safe and unharmed. I learned about how PEACE is a power - literally - a real power - that can be used to protect me from those who do not know what peace is.

        And if our physical evolution as a species was enhanced because of a built-in moral code, then we must have taken a very wrong turn at some point, because look at what is happening in the world. We are destroying our nest. We are procreating beyond the ability of the earth to sustain us. Global warming makes it harder year by year. Our fiscal system is designed to encourage the majority of "the race of laborers" to die early from poverty related causes (called "natural law"). This is done by bad farming practices that destroy arable land and potable water and breathable air - to name a few. Is greed and fear the new moral code? Is our destruction built into our genes?

        You do not appear to know what it means to have discovered your own powers. You have not tested them. You are not practicing manifesting things into your reality. You do not have mounds of evidence that you are a powerful being. You have not gone looking for an explanation of how this can be true, and you have not explored your beliefs.

        I have been exploring these things for the last 30 years. I have a head start.

        I suspect that this conversation has gone as far as it can go.
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          Mar 25 2013: No I don't think this conversation is done at all.
          I'm impressed : "I have diffused both situations leaving me quite safe and unharmed". While this doesn't guarantee that I couldn't kill you. (Not saying that I want to.)
          No peace isn't power.
          Power is control and influence over people, not knowing yourself or being more self-aware. That is different. I would be powerful if I ruled and controlled some of the most powerful countries, not necessarily happy or content. Or even making the world a better place, but you can't deny I would have power.
          I would have so much power, as an Japanese anime character said, I could split the world into two armies into two and make them fight eachother.
          Do you believe we all have free-will? Out of interest. I suppose you would considering that you view "Happiness is a complete choice". If destruction is built into our genes, then so be it. At least I will be happy, before my demise and content.
          While you must gain and fight for power. One of my favourite quotes concerning what really matters is :
          "There is something rather comforting facing death in battle, nothing else really seems to exist, except for my pure instinct to survive! It's all that matters. Personal history, sex, nationality, the name given to you. It's all meaningless. This is the only thing which is real: To fight for nothing else except for my own existence!" (I feel I must say : "We are not here to be happy, we are here to survive" - Oliver James. Great man)
          While with power you can do "good" or "evil". Yet you don't believe in morals do you?
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          Mar 25 2013: Out of interest how far would you agree with this quote :
          ""Equal effort does not mean equal gain. People can there is a balance that everything happens for a reason. But the truth is far less designed. No matter how hard you work, when you die you die. Some spend their entire life trying to scratch their way to the top, and still die in poverty. While some are born into wealth and never have to work at all. It's a cruel and random world. But the Chaos is still do beautiful!"
          Because I am getting a strong feeling from you, that life is probably meaningless, while you strive to create a meaning. And your meaning so happens to make you believe that you are eternal and powerful. Not saying this isn't true (I don't believe you are that powerful though :p). While I hate to use the typical atheist saying (Which I actually don't believe) but would be interested to see how you would respond : What evidence do you have to suggest that you are eternal, and it isn't just completely based on "faith"? And that we have just created meaning to deal with our existence.
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        Gail .

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        Mar 26 2013: You're not even trying to grasp what I'm saying here. You just keep making wild assumptions that are not evidence based. You assume I'm lying and you assume that you know what's going on in my head. You want to live in a mechanical world while I choose to live in an organic one. I cannot unlearn what I have learned. I cannot go back to that chaotic jumble of rules that once made my life so difficult.

        My worldview came through years of study that you have not yet engaged in. My belief in an organic world cemented when I discovered quantum mechanics that demonstrated how it could be true, and neuroscience that demonstrates that only the smallest part of me is housed in my body - as quantum mechanics suggested was most probable.

        My power is accessible to me because I know that I have GREAT power within my reality. As soon as I try to lord it over you, it dissipates and backfires. You do not believe my claims of being able to manifest things and situations into my reality because your belief about power is so distorted. You do not believe in my tested ability to protect myself from harm because you have never tested your ability. It is unreasonable (irrational) for you to make judgments about that which you have absolutely no knowledge. Your reasoning skills are not good enough.

        As to meaning: There is only one meaning to life: I think, therefore I am. I do not strive to create meaning. I have purpose, however; but meaning and purpose are two very different things.

        At some point, part of life is faith-based no matter how much evidence I have supporting my worldview. Evolution is faith based, but there is abundant evidence showing that evolution is real, so those with rational worldviews accept it as a "Theory" that is probably right - hence the element of faith. My worldview is rational whereas yours is not.

        As you are not interested in a purpose-driven conversation that I care to participate in, I will end it here.
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          Mar 26 2013: I think this conversation will have to end.
          But you still haven't refuted my claim about power.
          Replace meaning with purpose and your argument falls apart.
          I do not assume you are lying, I just view that you are wrong.
          While Yes I will admit I can't make assumptions about you!
          But I can make assumptions on the knowledge I have and try and make the most logical and rational assumption.
          "As to meaning: There is only one meaning to life: I think, therefore I am." NO that is not meaning.
          Anyway I am getting tired of this debate.
          So yes This has come to an end. (I apologize, I view that you are irrational and probably deluded, and don't want to admit it.)
          While I hope you are more respectable on other subjects.
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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/ 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 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 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.
  • Mar 28 2013: For me happiness is a relative term. If everyone took the blue pill, and everyone were happy, wouldn't it still be possible for some to be happier than others? I
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    Mar 28 2013: .
    “Happiness is the short-time feeling of things being a-step-better for keeping our DNA alive.”

    “Happy pill” makes us live short.

    (For details, see the 1st article, point 2(2) at
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    Mar 27 2013: Awful things happen in a beautiful world. One does not negate the other. Reality my friend.
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    Mar 25 2013: I would like to think that reality is fairly happy, that one can have the best of both worlds.
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    Mar 22 2013: If I may add my two cents.
    There are enough scholarly treatise of the psychology of happiness and I appreciate Bernard's links. I also find Gail's and Colleen's positions regarding happiness being a choice.
    My life experiences prevent me to see happiness as simply sweet. It's a range of tastes of life and self and most often than not, it came to me as bitter sweet. I used to look for it in satisfaction and contentment and delved into the rightfulness of personal happiness when I can clearly see suffering, inequality and struggle for existence all around me. I also felt guilty to be in a perpetual state of happiness while consoling someone's loss and grief.
    I don't have rational answers to Bernard's questions but happiness demanded extreme pain and loss of me, it made me admit my warped ego and see the worthlessness of material attachments. I am not sure if I am happy but after quite a journey of life I am happy not to look for it anymore.
    I don't see the happiness that comes through not caring for happiness in a wide awake world of changes and active participation is all things small and big that can make life a bit better as illusion or a lie. It's not a bliss, I admit, but it's vibrant, exciting and positive.
    One just needs to walk some length to have it. That walk is Bernard's Red pill and strangely it has a side effect - happiness.
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      Mar 22 2013: Interesting.
      It seems almost everybody views that the Red Pill would get you happiness, doesn't it? :)
      Due to happiness being a "choice". I might have to some research (and get rid of my own biases) and find out how much truth is in this statement. :)
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    Mar 22 2013: This is interesting...

    Today I woke up thinking... "today i will have no expectations" i went through the day quite happy. when i was at work, i lost a document, nothing catastrophic, but because i had no expectations of keeping it, i just began again. it was quite a happy day for me.

    So I would definitely take the happy pill, most people think I am on one generally anyhow. just like i realize my shift key is giving out lol...

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      Mar 22 2013: Well one psychologist claims that "low expectations" is the secret to happiness.
      But I suppose if you had none, then that would probably guarantee it.... :)
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    Mar 22 2013: To be happy in any situation is one of the highest form of evolution as a person, to be equinamous always. When situations do not effect your happy state of mind and you can be happy without outside support of drugs, situations or people you have attained eternal bliss. You become a Saint or Budha. All of us may not be able to attain this but even spending life trying to achieve this state of mind is akin to a victory,"Smiling Budha"
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    Mar 21 2013: many paople have already taken the blue pill without knowing it.
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    Mar 21 2013: Escape is good once in a while but not all of the time as then your entire life is the pursuit of a sensation what ever that sensation that might be, drugs, sex, gambling, adrenalin, even fishing.

    Here is an idea take the Red pill and view things as they are, I guarantee you will be happier than with the blue pill and the ever increasing doses required.
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      Mar 21 2013: The blue pill would give you permanent happiness, it would not be like momentarily happiness. (Like drugs, sex, adrenalin).
      I hope I have explained this better now. :)
      You would only need to take it once, and "now you'r be happy for the rest of your life".
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    Mar 21 2013: There is a children's book called The Giver that takes up this point. It's a utopia/dystopia in which everyone takes a pill that regulates emotion so that they are always satisfied with life... except that one person is selected to be the one who is fully aware of everything that is going on.

    I like to see things as they are, to see the beauty and potential in the situation, and to work at positive change.
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      Mar 21 2013: Sorry to be so specific but you would "like to see things as they are".
      I'm not sure you would "like" it, but you might "want" to. :)
      Though I can see your point of few quite well.
      But for me, if this "pill" was available to everybody (and had no side effects, and the world was "okay") then I would see no reason not to.
      "I like to see things as they are, to see the beauty and potential in the situation, and to work at positive change.". Why would you "like" this. (I suppose in an odd way the pill would guarantee you would "see" this, even though it would be an illusion!) While I would have to admit, suffering is necessary for change to a certain extent.
      I find this quite hard to explain. :s :)
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        Mar 21 2013: By "like" I meant prefer.
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          Mar 21 2013: Still I am not sure you would prefer to want to see things as they are.
          But we feel some sort of "need"/ "want" to.
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        Mar 21 2013: That makes sense. It is hard to be sure of what other people would prefer.
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          Mar 21 2013: :)
          Well as many psychologists like Daniel Gilbert have found out.
          We are the worst creature at (usaully) predicting what will make us happy.
          And what I am trying to argue here, which is more important in a way :
          - Happiness.
          or (Assuming you can only have one or the other!)
          - Truth.
          I personally would argue "happiness" with the illusion of truth.
          While to be fair you could argue "truth" with the illusion of happiness. (Not really sure how this work though)
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        Mar 21 2013: I think what makes this a peculiar question is that you are defining away the sort of happiness or satisfaction one might get from making the very best of challenging situations or the idea that some people, at least, need challenge to be content..

        You might be interested in Martin Seligman's TED talk on positive pdychology that takes on part of this issue.