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Why do we chase happiness?

If each emotion we experience is for a reason then why do we try to not to experience some of them as they are? Why there is a race for happiness out of the entire range of emotions? Is it a new phenomena or has the happiness always been sought the most? Is it a human need ?

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    Jan 14 2012: Happiness is not something that is out there, something that you have to find or earn. Feeling happiness is up to you only, is not directly connected to the material things that you have, your health or if you have accomplish all your goals.

    For me happiness is not being “Hi” or tripping with drugs, or being with beautiful women or being rich. I find happiness inside me, even when I failure, is up to me think like this: “I’m a looser, I really work hard and a fail, I give up”

    Or I can think: “Well, I try and a didn’t get what I was expecting, but I can do better and tomorrow is a new day, and if I keep trying I know I will be successful”

    Being wounded in life is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

    Oneself is the lord of his steps, the absolute master of his way, the architect of his dreams.

    If you are happy just when the world is nice with you, so you not are in control of your life. This is my opinion of what is happiness.

    Happiness is necessary to enjoy living life.
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      Jan 15 2012: "Being wounded in life is inevitable, but ...suffering is optional." Thanx David :)
    • Jan 17 2012: Cheers David!
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    Jan 22 2012: Why do we chase happiness? Seratonin and Dopamine. We pursue what is internally biochemically rewarded and avoid the alternative. The poets and playrights have long listed the items, situations and stimuli that result in the reward but the reward itself is a consequence of internal cellular secretion.
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      Jan 23 2012: Very true Michael,

      Can we then say that happines is the ''high' humans get from these and other neurotransmitters and that we are always looking for opportunities and experiences that give us this high / take you higher ??

      Is this why it seems that we chase happiness ??
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        Jan 23 2012: Sorry Mwenjew...I cannot give you thumbs up...I've maxed out for you again!
        This will have to do for now............:>)
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          Jan 25 2012: But it was Michael's contribution ... shouldn't he get the thumb up? (In the singular, that doesn't sound very nice.)

          Ah, I'll give him one.
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Thomas,
        I gave Michael a thumb up. I also like Mwenjew's insightful questions, and wanted to let him know that...makes me happy/content:>)
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      Jan 23 2012: agree even if sometimesthe long term result outweighs the pleasure of today. we are pleasure seeking biological entities.
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        Jan 23 2012: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? We think that by continually seeking something outside ourselves things will be better?
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      Jan 23 2012: I agree Michael and Mwenjew, that natural chemicals in the body contribute to the feeling of happiness/contentment:>)

      I am reminded of an experiment that was done with actors:
      By changing the expressions on the face (smiling or frowning for example) scientists have researched the theory that changing the expressions actually facilitates change to the chemicals in the body, therefor changing our mental/physical health OR our perception of health. We all know that laughter is good medicine, and there are actually "laughing meditations" now, where people are encouraged to laugh together to improve their health:>) I LOVE IT!

      What do you think/feel comes first? The change in the chemicals in the body? Or external experiences? My feeling is that we can change the chemicals in the body with our perceptions, facial expressions, etc. AND external influences/circumstances can contribute to the internal cellular secretion? What do you think?
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        Jan 24 2012: Colleen,
        Think so too.I believe in MIND over BODY. i.e mind has objective and subjective controll of body through the conscious and subconscoius mind. I believe this is how these actors can shed a tear just at the right moment. cant do that yet.

        G M
        I like the phrase, pleasure seeking biological entities.
        the very fact that we are SEEKING these pleasures thrills of chemicals in our bodies i think makes us human. and just as joy would feel so good if it werent for pain, the constant quest for this pleasure is why it seems that people are chasing it.
        does this explain why people do drugs like alcohol for social purposes?
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          Jan 24 2012: Hi again Mwenjew:>)
          I agree that mind/body is very connected, and working together through the objective and subjective conscious and subconscious.

          Having been a professional actor for many years, I would like to tell you how I connected with various feelings in myself. A good actor cannot simply "shed a tear" at will, in my experience. Every emotion I played as a character, I needed to connect with in myself to create the actions/reactions that were needed for the character. So, to cry for example, I needed to connect with the character with compassion/empathy, and step into that characters shoes. I had to feel what that character was feeling.

          I had a great lesson for this idea, one time in particular. I was playing the role of a mother who lost her son, and the character had a very deep, long monologue. The director, who wrote the play about her own life, kept telling me that I didn't quite have the depth of feeling she would like to see. In my perception, I was going as deep as possible to imagine how it would feel if my son died. We often used videos in rehearsal as a learning tool, and sure enough, when I looked at the video, I agreed with her assessment. What I realized, is that I could not go deep enough in myself to actually feel how it would be to lose my son. I played the role successfully, and usually had the audience in tears during the monalogue, but I never was able to take myself totally to the feeling of losing my son.

          I learned with the acting, that I can change my experience by changing my thoughts, feelings and perceptions of the "scene", and I took this lesson into my every day life.
          Sometimes, when my personal life seemed in shambles, I went into the theater and played the role of a very happy content person, and I noticed that my life experiences changed. Sometimes my personal life would be happy and content, and I played the role of a person who was discontent...guess what happened? We CAN make choices.
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Colleen,
        You say, Sometimes, when my personal life seemed in shambles, I went into the theater and played the role of a very happy content person, and I noticed that my life experiences changed.

        Shouldnt we be doing this every moment? and does this everyday acting lead to the "effortfulness" that we were talking about earlier ?
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          Jan 25 2012: Mwenjew,
          That's exactly my point...we CAN be doing this in every moment, and that is the lesson I brought into my everyday life.

          As I said in my previous comment, we don't simply "act" the part, we feel it..."be" it on many different levels. It is not about "pretending", it is about "being". You've maybe heard of psycho-drama? It is sometimes used by psychologists to teach people how to get in touch with deeper feelings in themselves. Well, I did 10 years of phycho-drama...AND got paid and applause for it!! How cool is that? By that time in my life, I realized life was about learning, so I was diligent about learning all that I could while pursuing the acting was a great experience in learning, growing, evolving in my "self". How else can someone experience how it "feels" to be a hooker (Sweet Charity) and a nun (Sound of Music) in the same summer!!! LOL:>)

          I loved the exploration of all the underlying feelings in my "self", and of course, when we know our "self" better, we get to know and interact with others on many of the same levels:>)
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        Jan 25 2012: Soooo happy right now !!!

  • Jan 13 2012: Chasing happiness, searching for happiness , the pursuit of happiness ... are poignant metaphors of the human state,
    for what the searchers seek in the outside world is often that which is missing in themselves.
    The most successful 'runer' in this race looks sometimes like a lost child, looking for home.
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    Jan 13 2012: Good questions Manuj, and very relevant in our world today.

    I agree that some people try to avoid certain emotions, probably because they can be painful at times. Facing some emotions causes us to be vulnerable within ourselves, and that is not always a good feeling. However, facing all emotions, also helps us gain strength and confidence in ourselves. So, while facing all emotions can feel frightening/vulnerable at first, it is also empowering.

    This TED talk might fit in nicely with this discussion:>)

    Sometimes people "chase the happiness", as you insightfully say, because they don't know that happiness/contentment is something we create for ourselves in ourselves? Too many people are searching for happiness from external forces or influences, and not realizing that happiness/contentment is a way to travel, not a destination.
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      • Jan 13 2012: "Happiness is like a butterfly. Chase it and it will always elude you, but divert your attention to other things, and it will come and rest quietly on your shoulder."
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          Jan 15 2012: I don't know, chasing butterflies is pretty fun, lol
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      Jan 13 2012: I love the idea of happiness as an internal force: something to be created, not found.
      • Jan 14 2012: I don't like my answer now, I like this one! Happiness isn't searched for, it's already inside of us, waiting to come out. Deep in the recesses of our mind we know what will make us happy, but maybe we chose to avoid happiness because we value other emotions more greatly.

        Every person has the capability to be happy, but it must come from within.
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          Jan 14 2012: I like BOTH of your answers...seems like you're exploring and growing with your discoveries...I LOVE it! Seems like you very quickly took the exploration from the outside (baggage/expectations making us happy) to the inside..."it must come from within". Good my humble opinion:>)
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          Jan 15 2012: I agree with Colleen, both of your insights are profound and wonderful!

          It is definitely within our power to create anything we want, including happiness. What I was trying to explain above, through the "human needs psych", is that once you realize that you have the power to achieve fulfillment, you realize you don't "need" happiness, but that you can have it anytime you wish. It's freeing not to have to chase those butterflies around if you don't want to, isn't it? lol
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          Jan 15 2012: Yes Amanda, it IS indeed "freeing" not to have to chase anything:>) When we realize we have the power to "create" our life with certainty, variety, significance, love & connection, growth, contribution, acceptance, satisfaction, humor, joy, bliss fulfillment, challenge, etc. etc., we reach a state of happiness/contentment, which becomes the foundation of our every day lives:>)
      • Jan 20 2012: Super !
    • Jan 14 2012: Thanks Colleen, for understanding the question in its entirety that too without my being able to phrase it correctly. And thanks for your answer, it reassures my belief that all emotions, including happiness, sadness, vulnerability etc, are essential to be experienced, identified and embraced as they come and go. None can be skipped and i should not choose to reach out or strive for few selected ones like happiness. Its like a wheel of time, the wheel of emotions(centered at me) also keeps rotating, i should not sleep over the painful ones by diverting my attention and shouldn't hold on to pleasurable ones.
      In fact, when i try to identify & observe a feeling, i see a reason behind and it begins to become normal. At times it becomes normal just by observing it as it is. Sometimes i am unable to clearly identify or define an emotion, then i feel the need to talk about it or read about it, mostly just to confuse myself further :-) this one...the emotion which leads us to chase it because of conditioning by society or because of ever growing sense of comparison....i am unable to define this very emotion which drives people to chase a particular emotion...
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        Jan 14 2012: Manuj,
        I think/feel you phrased it PERFECTLY:>)

        I agree with your belief that it is beneficial to explore and experience all emotions. I believe that is how we find "knowing" our "self" on many different levels. "It's an inside job", as Dru says!

        It is very insightful that you percieve the exploration as "like a wheel of time, the wheel of emotions...rotating". I believe that everything in life, including emotions, are meant to flow. We can explore and experience all emotions, and be aware of them flowing through us, adding to what we "know" about our "self". In my perception, this is how we learn, grow and evolve.

        LOL....I agree...sometimes learning more simply confuses us further...well put! That is where acceptance comes in. We can accept the confusion as part of the process. I don't have to have all the answers right now. I enjoy the exploration, and that is one piece that provides contentment for me...patience and acceptance of the process:>)
        • Jan 14 2012: Colleen, you are so well aligned here. Thanks.

          "accept the confusion as part of the process"..this is what i do and your opinion on this further reassures me.

          Right now, i am enjoying the confusion happening over here by everybody's perception of my imperfect question. The confusion is pulling me to make an imperfect conclusion, but, i would rather accept and enjoy the confusion to let it defog on its own.
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          Jan 15 2012: Confusion - Another great experience we humans are lucky to enjoy! lol
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        Jan 14 2012: Manuj,
        Thank you:>) I've had some very good teachers, interesting and challenging experiences, and many years to learn....or not:>)

        I've also learned to be comfortable with discomfort....maybe that's similar to accept and enjoy the confusion?

        "Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused":>)
        • Jan 14 2012: Indeed, you seem to have been alive. Keep guiding people and making sense in conversations when you can.
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          Jan 15 2012: I agree with Mauj, You rock Colleen!
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        Jan 15 2012: You rock too Amanda:>)

        I cannot get this response near your comment I'm responding to Amanda...
        Your comment..."Confusion - Another great experience we humans are lucky to enjoy! lol "

        I agree that confusion CAN be a great or interesting experience. I appreciate confusion, because it tells me that I have so much information that it is difficult to make a choice. I need to simply give it a rest, and let the information sink into my mind/logical "self", and heart/intuitive "self". When we really listen to all "parts" of our "self", there is no longer confusion:>)

        Often, when we (humans) feel confused, we get angry, frustrated, impatient, etc, which simply adds to the confusion.
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        Jan 19 2012: Manuj & Colleen,

        It is wonderful watching you unravelling the mystery of happiness. I feel like I am reading a story, "Will Manuj find the answer to his question". I can't wait to read on.
        • Jan 20 2012: :-) thanks Jonnie... Its an experiment which i am putting myself and everyone here though.... i am enjoying the dissection of thoughts. Its an open ended question, may or may not have an answer, or perhaps the answer lies with in the question. I am certainly enjoying the process, thanks to everybody.
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    Jan 14 2012: A Chinese proverb:" Happiness is like a sunbeam, which the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring." In the material world, people look like they are chasing happiness but they are actually fleeing from unhappiness. Material Man lives between happiness and unhappiness. Happiness is like a carrot dangling on a string on a stick. No matter how fast one flees from unhappiness, a good, solid bite is very elusive.
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    Jan 23 2012: Chase equals Pursuit.

    The belief has always been that we pursue happiness.

    But I think the pursuit itself is what fulfills us, though we scant recognize this during the chase.

    Pursuit equals Happiness.
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      Jan 23 2012: YES!!!

      "Remember that happiness is a way of travel, not a destination"
      (Roy M. Goodman)

      When we "recognize" that we can experience happiness within the life journey, we no longer need to chase/pursue it? Perhaps we need to recognize and acknowledge that it is the journey in which we experience happiness/contentment?
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        Jan 23 2012: Mam U have always a great answer... thanks for share.... We r just here bcoz share the exprncs... Now I m seeking here Meaning of life Ted is only Platform ....

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          Jan 23 2012: Hello again Harsh,
          I think it is wonderful that in Hindi language your name..."Harsh" means Happy!!!!
          Wherever you are, you are "Happy" all the time...I LOVE it.

          I agree with you that we are here to share experiences, and I'm grateful for your presence here on TED Harsh. Thank you for your kind words:>)
      • Jan 24 2012: I got a fortune cookie a few months ago that said "Don't pursue happiness. Create it." It made me smile and I carry it around in my work badge. Just thought I would share. You are wise enough to write fortunes. :-)
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          Jan 24 2012: I agree Rosemary,
          We can "create" our life experiences:>)
    • Jan 23 2012: "Pursuit equals Happiness" Thanks Dean.
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      Jan 23 2012: Perfect answer...
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      Jan 23 2012: No, pursuit does not equal happiness.

      Happiness equals happiness.

      "Pursuit" often triggers expectation and hope. You may have observed this in yourself: A twinge of "discomfort," in the moment, followed by the anticipation that "something" will make it better. The something could be more money, more recognition, watching TV, eating food, believing in heaven, etc.

      Then we do (or pursue) the "something" and the discomfort is replaced with expectation and hope ... but only for as long as we keep on moving. When we stop, we feel the discomfort (which never really went a way.)

      We like hope and positive expectation more than we like discomfort so we keep on chasing happiness .... because the pursuit is better than the alternative ... but, as long as we are chasing anything, it means, by definition, we haven't "caught" what we are chasing yet.

      If we "caught" happiness we would not have to do or chase anything.
  • Jan 17 2012: I chase happiness because i don't know what happiness is
    • Jan 18 2012: Thanks for your in-genuine comments. Nevermind Zona, most of us here don't know what it exactly is, but your ingenuity makes me feel that you might just find it soon..

      Have you ever seen a pup/dog chasing its tail ?
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        Jan 24 2012: QUOTE: "Have you ever seen a pup/dog chasing its tail ?"

        And should that pup catch what it is chasing, what is it that it has caught?
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      Jan 19 2012: no , you chase happiness because you know it ,so you do something for it
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        Jan 24 2012: Hi Han,

        You are mistaken. We do not chase things we know will make us happy. We chase things we think will make us happy.

        If we knew what would make us happy, we would already have it. It would no longer be necessary to chase it.
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      Jan 19 2012: Come to think of it, if we we sampled amongst ourselves what happiness is, (excluding how it makes us feel).....
      would we arrive at a similar conclusion?
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        Jan 19 2012: Hi Mwenjew,
        Good question! My guess is that all of us may never come to the same conclusion, UNLESS we are all willing and able to accept the very same information? We are all different, have different experiences on which to base our perceptions, different programming, etc. I believe that each and every one of us as individuals sifts through information...or come to our own conclusions, ideas, opinions and beliefs...what do you think?

        You asked another interesting question below, and I cannot respond anywhere near the question, so I will do it here.

        Your question..."is it then true that you cannot experience something outside your mentality ??"
        I think/feel that if we do not have the information in our "mentality", then we probably have no way to "experience" it? Our experiences give us information, correct? If we do not have the experience or information in our mind, how could we experiece it?
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          Jan 20 2012: Colleen, thats very true.

          Our individual experiences shape us to who we are and I tend to think that they give us different perspectives to what happiness is.

          Me thinks that people are on a VERTICAL CONTINUM - X axis and due to our individual experiences we are plotted on various points on this vertical scale and we are looking at the SAME THING - happiness, but because of our different perspectives of it, we tend to have different opinions of what we are perceiving. birds eye, normal eye and worm eye ? what do you make of this ??
      • Jan 19 2012: Fantastic thought Mwenjew. If we try this experiment, to just feel a feeling without having the urgency/need to label it. Perhaps, we'll not need to label it. Because, theoretically, when we focus on a feeling it gets dissolved. The corollary is that when we give it a name, it remains attached with us in the form of a name, stored in one or more memory cells, not allowing it to dissolve. So if happiness is dissolved, the calmness / nothingness will set in.
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          Jan 19 2012: I agree Manuj,
          When we give it a name, it remains "attached" with us, stored in the memory cells, we think we "know", and we become limited by what we "think" we know. Many people prefer this way of functioning...label, think they "know", and limit him/her "self" to ONLY that information.

          In my perception, calm/nothingness leaves me open to new information, possibilities and discoveries. It's always a choice:>)
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        Jan 23 2012: Mwenjew,

        You write..."Our individual experiences shape us to who we are and I tend to think that they give us different perspectives to what happiness is".

        Do you think/feel that the experiences shape us? Do we shape the experiences? Is "perspective" a choice we make to maybe "shape" things differently? Can we change our life experience by percieving or "shaping" our experiences? I believe we can:>)

        Yes, I think/feel that many times, as humans, we can see the same things and percieve what we see very differently. You ask..."what do you make of this ??"

        I believe we are all on different paths in this life journey. Because of our programming (family, cultural, societal, religious, etc.) we have different programming/perceptions in this life experience, which causes us to percieve things differently. We also have our own "character/personality", which adds to the mix of us being different from each other. Life would be kind of dull if we were all the same...would it not?

        My perception, is that our differences are opportunities to learn from each other, so I am happy/content and really joyful with the differences. If one percieves the differences to be problematic, that is how s/he will live the life experience. What do you think/feel about this?
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          Jan 24 2012: Colleen,

          You never cease to amaze

          Do experiences shape us or do we shape experiences ?

          Thats brilliant.
          You say, our differences are opportunities to learn from each other, so I am happy content and really joyful with the differences. If one percieves the differences to be problematic, that is how she will live the life experience. What do you think feel about this?

          I also have to say that I a few years ago came to a point in my life where I became comfortable with other people being different from me, or is it me being different from other people. Anyway I completly embraced other peoples uniqueness, I encourage others to express their idiosyncracies and as you said, turn it to an opportunity to learn from other people.

          I believe that this is the key to truly freeing society by allowing people to live from their hearts.
          ps. cant imagine a world where everyone is the same.
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        Jan 24 2012: Dear Mwenjew,
        I believe that we are shaping our experiences AND our experiences are shaping us...IF....we choose to percieve our world in that way:>)

        I agree that this way of percieving and embracing each other and our "self" is very joyful, pleasurable, happy, content and freeing:>) Why would anyone NOT make that choice?

        I maxed out on thumbs for you again:>(
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          Jan 26 2012: Shaping my experiences from now henceforth !
  • Jan 14 2012: I think the word happiness here carries a lot of baggage. I think that having a brain and being conscious naturally causes one to seek reason and purpose of life. I also think that our happiness, much like our vision of god, is the arrival at a point of understanding in our lives where everything makes sense.

    We chase our dreams because we think they will make us happy, but I think we chase our dreams because we think it will complete our lives, making a partial human finally whole.

    Its amazing to see so many opinions on a thinking question like this!
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      Jan 14 2012: Dear Hunter Bliss,
      Good point..."the word happiness...carries a lot of baggage". I call the baggage "expectations". We often expect that certain things, or people will make us happy, so we carry around this baggage/expectation. As you insightfully say..."we chase our dreams because we think they will make us happy". I have more fun being happy/content WHILE chasing the dreams. For me, it is the process of exploration, learning and growing that is important in every moment. Reaching the dreams is a bonus:>)

      I agree that our "brain and being conscious naturally causes one to seek reason and purpose of life". It may be as you say..."a point of understanding in our lives where everything makes sense". I believe that part of that process is also our heart/intuition. What do you think about that?
      • Jan 14 2012: "Reaching the dreams is a bonus".. lovely thought.
    • Jan 14 2012: Thanks Hunter. Thats exactly the idea that there is a sense behind all feelings we come across, so why ignore some and chase some, and continue swinging on either side of the line which makes sense.
  • Jan 14 2012: In a state of happiness, there is absence of sadness. It is probably why we chase the feeling of happiness, Absence of either state is, in my view, Nirvana where you are neither happy nor sad. So what happens in such state? Listening to a number of highly esteemed speakers on this subject could probably provide us a clue or a glimpse of what it is. We are perfectly content when we sleep. So do we attain a state where we are neither happy nor sad. Can such a state be obtained during our waking hours? I believe it is possible.
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      Jan 14 2012: Sekhar,
      Very good point..." absence of sadness"....very interesting perspective:>)

      You ask... in the absence of happiness and sadness...what happens in such a state? I think you have answered your question..."We are perfectly content". I like using the word contentment rather than happiness, because to me, contentment is a state of mind and heart that I can maintain. The word happiness seems to have different meaning for me, and seems to be more fleeting, while "contentment", for me, is everlasting. Yes, I believe it is possible because it is part of the foundation of my life:>)
      • Jan 15 2012: Interesting differentiation between contentment and happiness, Is a person when he is contented? This is something akin to the state where you are neither asleep nor awake or when something is neither cold nor hot and so on.... I come from deep down south of India and some of us tend to turn philosophical at the drop of a hat. I have a very positive attitude towards life and take things as they come on. Does that represent a state of contentment? Probably, yes. I may argue but do not find faults; I disagree but do not force my view points; and I definitely do not advise. If all such qualities make a person immune to "sadness" then by my definition, I am a happy person and a contented person too:)
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          Jan 15 2012: Hi Sekhar,
          I am in north east USA, and it is -15 degrees here this morning, so apparently it is not the beautiful warmth of southern India which causes us to be philosophical!!!

          I think/feel that we all decide for ourselves if we are happy or content and what that means to us as individuals?
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        Jan 16 2012: Colleen / Sekhar,
        Very interesting conversation here. I was at TED in 2011 and wanted people to talk to me about "Happiness and Contentment". My name badge for the next conference says the same thing. It's specially interesting for me to find this conversation here.

        I agree with you Colleen, that it is contentment that stays, while happiness is momentary. It may last, for example, when one starts to think, "I'm having a really great time, I wish this would last!!". Funny, but that is the moment when it ends!

        The real big thing is to define "Contentment". I believe it is very difficult state to define. In it's true form, it will be a place where there is no possibility of happiness or sadness. There will be a sustained sense of completeness, satisfaction, lack of desire for something in the future with it's associated pain! However, if this so called pure state lasts for some time, say an hour of quite stroll on a tropical beach, is it not as momentary as happiness?

        Does that make contentment any better than happiness?
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          Jan 16 2012: Hi Gaurav,
          Lucky you for being at TED in 2011...must have been a great experience!

          If we look at the definitions, happiness is:
          "good fortune. prosperity, a state of wellbeing and contentment, pleasurable satisfaction".......all good:>)

          If we look at "happy", we see some of the same things AND ALSO:
          "characterized by a dazed irresponsible state, impulsivily or obsessively quick to use something, enthusiastic to the point of obsession" etc. These are the kinds of definitions that cause me to percieve happy, or happiness as fleeting, unstable or unpredictable.

          Content: "satisfied, to appease the desires, to limit in requirements, desires, or actions, freedom from care or discomfort". I don't think it is difficult to define...much easier than happy/happiness...don't you think? Like you is a sustained sense of completeness, satisfaction, lack of desire for something. That is very well said. I don't necessarily think contentment is "better than" happiness, but different. I'd prefer to have sustained contentment, rather than fleeting "strolls" through happiness.

          I prefer the word "contentment" because it more effectively describes the underlying feeling I have in myself most of the time and in my experience, it IS sustainable.
    • Jan 14 2012: So do i Sekhar. Thanks.
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      Jan 15 2012: The next would be question - Do we want to be that content all the time?
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        Jan 15 2012: Good question Amanda...
        "Do we want to be that content all the time?"
        It is a choice we all make as individuals in each and every moment.

        Yes, I prefer to be "content" all the time:>) I accept the challenges as part of the human adventure, and know that I can experience balance by choosing to stay in a mindset which allows me to accept every part of being human:>)

        I've told this story before on TED, and I believe it's worth repeating here:
        After a near fatal head/brain injury and craniotomy, unconscious and hooked up to life support systems in ICU, I'm told I was smiling and giving visitors thumbs up. By that time in my life, I recognized all experiences as an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve, so my intention, even in an unconscious state, was to get on with the lessons with as much acceptance and love as I was capable of at that moment:>)
      • Jan 17 2012: "Do we want to be that content all the time?" Amanda, i guess, the answer lies with in your advance question. The gap between our needs and wants keeps us walking, experiencing and living. During the walk the cause and effect is to be kept in mind, I think that it assures at least a smile, rest is a Colleen says.
      • Jan 18 2012: I like to consider the state of contentment as a state of balance or stability in the scheme of things. Metaphorically speaking, in happiness we are in a state of excitement wherein we are absorbing energy and then begin to expend more and more energy in order to return to a state of balance. As one could determine, this is an unstable system because the excitement is dependent upon a finite source of energy. Even if we use ourselves as the source of energy we will eventually deplete our energy and will return to a state of unexcitement. Sadness on the other hand, is what I like to consider as the creation of a deficit of energy. The energy is drawn from the person and there is no source to return it. In order to beat sadness the person may find a source of energy to draw upon it in order to maintain the balance or find a way to stop their own energy from being drawn out of them.

        In terms of: Do you want to be content all the time?
        I think the answer is, "yes but..."

        As fundamentally selfish creatures we view other people through a kind of cost vs. benefit set of spectacles. That is to say that, It does not matter what any individual person does, but rather how what you do makes other people perceive you.

        As things go then, because as people we crave novelty or excitement, we will constantly be looking for a source of energy to fuel that excitement and what better way to do it than to get it from someone else. So as this translates then, people will see you as an unexcited, content person who would not be a good candidate as an energy source and will not be attracted to you. What's worse is that if they perceive you as being sad then they will actually repel away from you naturally.

        The point is that if you want other people to be attracted to you then you must put forth the image of excitement to draw them in. Otherwise you will maintain contentment but at the cost of attracting only those people who have a deficit (sadness) of energy
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    Jan 25 2012: Short answer:
    positive emotions feel good
    negative emotions feel bad.

    We are programmed to seek good experience (and pleasure/benefice) and avoid bad experience (and pain/harm).
    So I think the answer lies in evolution.

    Our current culture is a bit exaggerating though
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      Jan 25 2012: I agree Christophe, that part of the answer lies in evolution. Do you think that our current culture feels a bit "exaggerating" because our minds may be evolving too? When we think of evolution, perhaps most people think about the physical evolution? Sometimes, we forget that the brain/mind is evolving as well? The brain has actually doubled/trippled in size over many years of evolution. Do you suppose that the exaggerated feeling is caused from the fact that we retain more information and are exploring that information more than we have in the past?
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        Jan 25 2012: Colleen,

        I think that when I point out exaggerating, I mean (1) that we are currently struggling with a discrepancy between how we evolved to experience good stimuli and how we are creating these super stimuli that have some negative consequences that we are not 'programmed' to face. and that (2) we might be over-stressing the idea that we "need" to be happy.
        I don't think we need to. Feeling neutral or a bit negative or pessimistic is not wrong.

        As for cultural evolution, and the adaptation of our brains to it: We start to figure out how to elevate happiness, and apply that to ourselves and society in general if we wish to... I think that's not bad. As long as it does not become like "soma" or that it does not divert us from seeking truth and accepting reality.
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          Jan 25 2012: Christophe,
          I think we are agreeing? I agree that some people are "struggling" with discrepancies...that is pretty apparent here in TED conversations! I believe that feeling whatever we are feeling at any given time is good:>) I also do not feel that we need to label things/feelings as some of these conversations are trying to do.

          You say..."as for cultural evolution, and the adaptation of our brains to it: We start to figure out how to elevate happiness and apply that to ourselves and society in general if we wish to". I agree...that is good:>) Is this similar and/or related to my statement/question..."Do you suppose that the exaggerated feeling is caused from the fact that we retain more information and are exploring that information more than we have in the past?"

          It seems like we are saying the same thing? With cultural evolution, we adapt, start to figure out how to elevate happiness, apply to ourselves and society, this intensified use of our brain/thinking/more information sometimes causes a "struggle"? And/or discrepancy in how we were, and what we are evolving to?

          I will tell you honestly, that with our interactions, I often feel that we are saying the same things, and your comments seem formed in a way that feels like they are in opposition.
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        Jan 25 2012: Hahaha
        Yes, Colleen, I think our opinions are very close to each other...
        Maybe our approach is just from another angle, so that the formulation seems more opposing than the actual content.

        "Do you suppose that the exaggerated feeling is caused from the fact that we retain more information and are exploring that information more than we have in the past?"
        I don't know, but I think it is at least a partial cause.
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    Jan 25 2012: I think happiness is within. It's not a long term checkpoint or a great feat of effort. Rather, it is the result of our own self-perspective. When we see ourselves in third person, thinking about all that we do for those around us, all that we influence for the better...we can decide to be happy or unhappy with ourselves.

    "Happiness is like a butterfly.
    The more you chase it, the more it eludes you.
    But if you turn your attention to other things,
    It comes and sits softly on your shoulder."
    Henry David Thoreau
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    Jan 25 2012: In my most recent research on the topic of happiness, I found out that as we step into this earth as babies, we all come whole, complete and happy. But as we gain consciousness, we enter into a dire pull to conformity which leads to further conformity which disconnects us from our real selves.....our real essence. And the quest to reconnect to our real essence which we most times do not understand leads us to the pursuit of happiness. Happiness has always been the greatest need of man, although sometimes we barely understand what it is we are longing for.
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      Jan 25 2012: Fountain,

      You must be speaking metaphorically because, as I am sure you must know, we do not come into the world complete and whole.


      I'd be interested in hearing how you came to this conclusion.

      Our first expressions in the world are (usually) tears of pain and, perhaps, grief.
    • Jan 25 2012: Fauntain & Thomas,

      I tried and could not revive the experiences of the time i came into this world.

      Could you both please share how you figured that we came complete & happy (-Fountain) and how our first expressions in the world are tears of "pain" & "grief" (-Thomas)?

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        Jan 25 2012: I have been present at the birth of two children. They both cried. I imagine it is painful being squeezed through a narrow canal that requires one's skull to be literally compressed.

        The grief is a guess. Grief from being "expelled" from an environment that was maintained perfectly for one's comfort and development.

        I know of one child whose mother went into labour and gave birth 20 minutes later. The child did not seem to experience much trauma ... she was the mother's third.

        I do have memories of my own from about 18 months but my introduction to the world was somewhat unique. I do not think my experience is common.

        Do you think being born is a pleasant experience?
        • Jan 25 2012: "Do you think being born is a pleasant experience?" ...i don't know. Why a baby cries and laughs is purely our interpretation. That fellow doesn't know the why, he hardly has any memory cells, as a reference, to laugh or cry about. Those expressions cant be termed as emotional expressions. That fellow never chases any emotion. It just is...absolutely in the moment. Crying only out of physical pain or need. I dont know why they laugh.
          Here's a link to both expressions together...

          The chase i am questioning is different. This is running away from some memory cells or chasing some memory cells. Ok...if our emotions are stored in memory cells as references and if each memory cell has a limited life span. Then, by remembering good feelings we multiply pleasant memories and by remembering unpleasant memories we multiply unpleasant memory cells? Does that justify the chase for happiness ?
          I think i am beginning to find the answer.
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          Jan 25 2012: Manuj....GREAT clip...makes me smile:>)

          Perhaps this child is demonstrating what you describe in another comment?
          You write..." is a child born with all this ? Or is a child born blank?....and then these emotions get labelled in its mind as per his exposure?"

          Could the child in the video be simply "feeling" and reacting to those feelings without labeling? I believe crying and laughing are very connected:>)
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          Jan 29 2012: Manuj Sharma
          About that video: I think we have more in common with the infant than we care to admit as adults. Not that they use memory cells or that they pursue happy memories as we might, but all humans have a capacity to synthesize happiness. I believe memory actually gets in the way of our reaching happiness and well-being. The video shows a learning experience for the capacity to synthesize happiness. It is not just an odd behavior. The infant laughs because he is gaining that capacity to create well-being. (synthesized happiness TED talk )

          Find happiness switches, not memory cells.
          Happy thoughts,
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Manuj,

        I am not sure I am following you but, when they are born, babies do have LOTS of "memory cells." They are not a "blank slate" as we used to say. Far from it.

        I am told being born hurts. I don't remember my own birth but having witnessed two, I have no difficulty believing that it hurts ... a lot.

        You may have heard the expression "neurons that fire together, wire together." So, yes, "remembering good feelings" will strengthen those connections.

        I think you would enjoy studying neuropsychology. Amongst other things, it has a lot to say about happiness and "memory cells."
        • Jan 25 2012: Thanks. If they have lots of memory cells, is there anything stored in there or they are like blank cells ready for impressions ??
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        Jan 25 2012: QUOTE: "If they have lots of memory cells, is there anything stored in there or they are like blank cells ready for impressions ?"


        But "blank" isn't really the right metaphor.
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      Jan 25 2012: Fountain,
      I agree that when we are born into the human experience we are whole, complete, trusting, honest, happy, content, unconditionally loving. I believe that life experiences often cause us to disconnect from our true selves by building masks and defences which are supposed to protect us from feeling vulnerable and hurt. The challenge is that the protective defenses also keep us from experiencing life to the fullest, so we feel we need to search for those "parts" of our "self" that we are not experiencing...."our real essence", as you say. That may be why so many people are searching outside themselves for happiness. It can be frightening to let go of the defenses and feel vulnerable, and that is exactly what is needed to "know thyself" and experience true happiness/contentment.
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          Jan 25 2012: Pierre,
          It makes a lot of sense that we all listen to others, read some books, watch so many TED videos because in us is a great bank of knowing which is inate but silent and untapped but is staired at the entrance of knowledge. This knowledge we can gain from our experiences or by learning from that of others.
          Just as Colleen and myslf said before, when we set out in pursuit of happiness, we often think it is in pursuing so many things but one others point us to ourselves through their teachings we are reawakened to awareness and consciouness.
        • Jan 25 2012: I think Pierre is fine the way he is. He may appear to be bit irresponsible here but he makes the environment light with his casual comments.
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        Jan 25 2012: We're not complete and whole when we are born. Parts of us are quite literally missing. Our brains, not to mention our bodies, are not yet fully developed. We may have the potential to be complete but we are not yet "fully baked."
      • Jan 25 2012: Colleen,
        "I agree that when we are born into the human experience we are whole, complete, trusting, honest, happy, content, unconditionally loving." .... is a child born with all this ? Or is a child born blank?....and then these emotions get labelled in its mind as per his exposure?

        As far as labeling of emotions is concerned....can we say that there may be many more emotions yet to be explored and labeled ?
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          Jan 25 2012: A child is content when s/he gets basic needs met, correct? The baby will let us know if s/he is hungry, uncomfortable, hurting etc. They have very basic communication skills and use them appropriately. I think that demonstrates trust, honesty, and contentment. Babies are unconditionally loving and will bond with parents even if that parent is cruel to the child. We hear stories all the time about abuse and cruelty to children, and yet, the children continue to love the parent. That is unconditional love.
      • Jan 25 2012: Pierre, Thanks for your brilliant & in-genuine inputs. True, at times, i feel i am wasting my time here. Perhaps, i am "chasing" answers which exist within or which i will find as i move ahead, without having the need to define/label them.
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      Jan 25 2012: Fountain,

      Me thinks that we are born as a clean slate - nothingness so to speak, and just as a software developer writes codes for a program, the environment were born into coupled with the experiences we encounter, kind of moulds us along the way.

      How do you take this ?
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Mwenjew,

        We're not born as clean slates. We're born already knowing a lot. (There is a TED talk on this ... does anyone remember what it is called?)
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        Feb 6 2012: Good link Koen.......thanks!

        Much of this information was available to us 40+ years ago when I was having children. I guess that's when I learned more about babies/children:>) It was well known, scientifically researched and proven way back then, that babies start to be programmed even BEFORE they are born. All of the child's systems are directly connected to the mother, as they are developing. How can we ever think that they would NOT be influenced? When are we, as humans with intelligence, going to start paying attention to so much information that is available to us???
  • Jan 24 2012: Happiness is ever changing, it is not a constant. It is also not something that is (or should) be experienced all the time. Happiness is a perception, if your life was perfect then you would feel no happiness because it would be normal, you'd have nothing to compare that feeling too. In my opinion, the greater depths of despair we reach in our lives the greater compacity we have to love and experience happiness. Another point is that what makes one person happy, does not make another happy, before we can chase happiness, we must first find what makes us happy, and only then can we begin to chase it.
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      Jan 26 2012: Erin,
      You say, Happiness is ever changing ! - sooo true
      Things that made me happy last year dont right now, and the things making me happy right now may not next year. Its been said here, happiness is a way of travel, not a destination and differs from one person to the next !

      Why would you say that happiness should not be experienced all the time ??
      • Feb 9 2012: If we experienced it all the time, we would not apreicate it as much. As the saying goes about having too much of a good thing is bad. Im not saying we can not be content and have to be depressed or sad when we are not happy, but we should not strive to be happy all the time, for that is impossible and will lead to dispair.
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      Feb 9 2012: Erin,

      You are mistaking relief for happiness.

      Relief from, say, grief may "feel like" happiness by comparison. In other words, if we remove the grief (or sadness) we will feel happy by comparison.

      That is like saying if we remove the darkness, there will be light.

      You cannot create light by removing darkness.

      You remove darkness by shining a light.

      Light is something. Darkness is its absence.

      Happiness is also something. It is not the absence of another thing.

      Happiness is not ever changing. What is ever changing is that which temporarily distracts us from a lack of happiness. Entertainment, enjoyment, pleasure, distractions like TV, movies, and such, often provide pleasant experiences and we interpret this as happiness. We soon get tired of our distractions and notice our "base state" (whatever it is) and it creates the illusion that "happiness is ever changing."

      QUOTE: "...we must first find what makes us happy, and only then can we begin to chase it."

      This is a contradiction in terms. If we find what "makes us happy" we will have already "caught it" and so there will be no need to chase it.

      Of course, the syntax alone will trap us in an endless and futile search: nothing can "make us happy."

      Happiness is a choice.

      Happiness exists (like light exists) and we choose to experience it or we choose not to.* (We may need to learn how.)


      * There are exceptions: for example, people with severe mental illness cannot "choose to be happy" and there are certain extreme circumstances where choosing might be as close to impossible as to make it so.
  • Jan 23 2012: The question contains the answer; whatever we chase, we define as happiness, no matter how irrational or dysfunctional the pursuit. We avoid stasis and call the avoidance the pursuit of happiness. Giving in to stasis can be defined as depression.
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      Jan 23 2012: I agree David, that our questions often contain our answers:>)

      You say that we continue to chase happiness, no matter how irrational or dysfunctional the pursuit to avoid facing other emotions? I agree that this concept may be part of the scenario.

      I've found that facing all the emotions in myself is the way I recognize happiness/contentment in my "self". Knowing myself because of the exploration in my "self" gives me information which helps me understand myself and others. The exploration and knowledge contributes to my self knowledge, self worth, self respect, which all contributes to my happiness/contentment. When I have that in myself, I can share it with others, which again, contributes to happiness/contentment in myself and others. It feels like a wonderful cycle:>)

      So, with the constant pursuit of happiness outside our "self" we may be actually preventing ourselves from experienciing real happiness/contentment? Sounds like a different cycle that prevents happiness/contentment?
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        Jan 23 2012: agree less striving for some ideal state and more appreciating now. and perhaps some acceptance of aging adversity and the final end without dwelling on it too much.
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          Jan 23 2012: I agree G M...
          Less striving, more appreciating, gratitude and being in the moment NOW contributes to more peace, happiness and contentment:>) Sometimes, we (humans) spend a lot of time and energy chasing something that is in us right here and now:>)
      • Jan 23 2012: Colleen, a fresh week allowed me a fresh quota of thumbs up for this moment i am happy for this :-)
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          Jan 23 2012: I am happy/content to see you back:>)
    • Jan 23 2012: Thanks David. Short & superb !
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    Jan 22 2012: Hi Manuj Sharma
    As an American, I've spent the better part of my life fully believing that it is my inherent right to both pursue happiness (see Thomas' nasty 1776 letter to George III) and derive happiness from my choices in life. Even my brand of soda becomes my propaganda enhancer. All humans want to be good, just, and honest. The cultural message I got was that if I was honest about what I wanted in life, then I had to admit I wanted to be happy. Yet I remember that even as a young child watching Superman shows on TV, it bothered me that this super hero from another planet felt obligated to "fight a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the AMERICAN way." Somehow my "pursuit-of-happiness" cultural tradition had an internal contradiction! Your other questions may be legitimate starters for some interesting research projects. The last question, whether it is a human need, I think is false. I think we often confuse the comfort of insured survival and safety with our projected image of future happiness.
    Aren't you glad you asked this question? [:-)
    • Jan 23 2012: Yes Mark, I am glad to know that i am OK. Or at least, i know now, that i am not the only idiot to have such a question, i have found some like minded people here ;-)
      Thanks buddy. Will see the letter.

      hey Mark, could you please forward me the link to that letter? Thanks
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        Jan 25 2012: Sure Manuj Sharma
        I was a bit sly with my reference. I was trying to be funny. Thomas is Thomas Jefferson, the major author of America's declaration of independence, and George is King George III, then being the oppressive monarch we were breaking away from. Actually there was a pleading "we promise to be good" letter of 1775 (see ), and then there was the nasty nagging complaint letter of 1776, the declaration of independence (see ).

        Enjoy the wonderful US History lesson. Here's my mental excerpt from the document from memory: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

        Ta ta
  • Jan 21 2012: Why do you assume that we experience each emotion for a reason?

    Maybe we seek happiness the most because it is hard to achieve. I do think people now seek after happiness more than generations before. This is not because people before didn't want to be happy or thought it was good for them to try the whole range of emotions. It was because many people perceived their place in society (their lot in life) as being one where they would suffer more than others and that there was little they could do to change that. As people's thinking changed so that more and more people were seen as being equal to each other, this changed. I think more people now see the possibility of being happy and feel like they have as much right an anyone else to be happy and to try and achieve happiness in their lives.
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      Jan 21 2012: Excellent point Deborah!
      I agree that people may be seeking happiness more now than in previous generations. There used to be a number of philosophical and/or religious teachings that tried to convince people that they were not "supposed" to be happy....suffering was thought to be more honorable for some reason.

      I think/feel, that as we evolve, more people are questioning those beliefs which were meant to keep the masses of people "controlled" in my perception. I believe we are evolving to the point where we KNOW as thinking, feeling humans, that we DO have choices, and thankfully, many people are questioning the old teachings.
    • W T

      • +1
      Jan 21 2012: Hi Deborah...your comment reminded me of a previous convesation on here about why we acquiesce to suffering. The Ted member from Nigeria was dumbfounded as to why his fellow countrymen did not see suffering as optional. He wanted them to see they had choices in life....seems that in some parts of the world happiness still eludes people, and sadly they don't even know they can chase it......

      Just my observation....I really enjoyed reading your entry, it enlightened me.

      Happiness is always really there, no over there.....people chase it because they don't know where it is at. Happily, they might be helped by this wonderful conversation started by Manuj. Thanks Manuj!
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    Jan 19 2012: I do think that happiness has something to do with a physical state of well being. Knowing that chemicals trigger interesting and desired states, of mind or body, one can say that it's all down to the chemicals your body/brain produces for harmony and perfect function.
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    Jan 17 2012: Choose happiness, dont chase it.
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    • Jan 17 2012: Thanks Adriaan.

      True... sometimes hidden within the help is said by Sir Guy Ritchie in his latest film...hidden within conscious is evil.
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        • Jan 17 2012: haha true
        • Jan 18 2012: Continuation...

          Lastly we must consider that the ego(sub-conscious) is a structure concerned with coping with reality in that it is essentially a survival mechanism. In essence, it is a structure that compels us to act on our own interests in order to survive. This makes sense because (Darwinian theory) those characteristics, pending outside interactions, that enable us to survive by virtue of being more conducive to survival (survival of the fittest) will become more prevalent in a species population through time until something more suitable to the survival of the species takes its place. So again this means that the ego is a structure that compels the individual to act selfishly in order to survive. Therefore this ego(sub-conscious) structure is completely selfish and because it has been paired up with the sub-conscious experience the following perspective can be established.

          Realizing that the sub-conscious experience contains those behavior that are below our awareness and that the purpose of the ego is to act selfishly in order to survive, it follows that humans are fundamentally selfish creatures whose true motives for any automatic behavior are to help the cope with reality. Therefore I conclude that being selfish is not act of evil in its own right but rather a function that allows us to continue living and is outside of morality.

          Yet we have concluded from our morality that selfish behaviors are bad. Well if you re-read the conscious experience I did say that it has the capacity to act selflessly and through that use of directable, focused attention and will power to choose to act in the interests of the individual. This means that we can actually choose to act selfishly.

          It is those situations when we consciously choose to act selfishly that we must individually examine for morality against our own personal code.

          (one more continuation)
      • Jan 18 2012: said by Sir Guy Ritchie in his latest film...hidden within conscious is evil.

        I find this statement and some of the ones preceding it to be somewhat loaded. Loaded with the belief or opinion that selfishness is evil or wrong. While I neither disagree or agree with this belief, I would like to provide a different perspective that we may find to be of use here.

        In setting a foundation from which to extrapolate this different perspective we must first consider the mind as a set of three experiences which have been established by Sigmund Freud. These experiences are named the Superego, the Ego, and the ID of which for this purpose we will only need the first two.

        Next we need to equate the Superego with the conscious experience and the sub-conscious experience with the ego. The conscious experience containing those behaviors that we are aware of and therefore can manipulate through directed focused attention and will power and the sub-conscious experience being those behaviors that are below awareness and therefore are of a highly automatic nature.

        From here we note that the superego(conscious experience) has a purpose of keeping the ego in check(Freudian theory) as (from an evolutionary perspective) the newest structure of the mind. This then is essentially where we hold our sense of morality. What we know of morality is that it is something acquired through the environment of the subject. i.e. We learn it from the people around us. Therefore it is safe to say that the conscious experience has the capacity to act selflessly or for the interests of others but at the same time because the conscious experience contains this directable, focused attention, it is possible to choose to act selfishly or for your own interests.

        (to be continued)
      • Jan 18 2012: (the last continuation) this is part 3

        To me, or in my opinion, I do not like consciously directed selfishness that causes harm to another person under the condition that the victim (victim being the person who receives the effect of the selfish behavior) must perceive the selfish act as harmful upon recognition and must not receive a delayed benefit. In other words if someone is harmed as a result of a selfish behavior and does receive an actual gain or benefit (gain and benefit being determined by the individual being harmed) that outweighs the harm caused in any type of delayed manner, then the consciously directed selfish-behavior is Evil.
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    Jan 16 2012: I think that many people have been conditioned to believe that 'happiness' is a natural healthy state. If you are not happy 100% of the time, then something is wrong. Its even in the American constitution - life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Studies of drug users show that long term drug use can short-out a recovering addict's ability to feel happiness. This is because the pleasure receptors of the brain have been abused so much that they are unable to register the brain chemistry of pleasure and happiness. Depending on the drug use this may be permanent damage or temporary.

    Being happy all the time is impossible - our brains are not wired for such emotion. While we can't feel happy all the time, we can choose to feel satisfied and/or content.

    Research shows that at the root of satisfaction and happiness is gratitude and connecting with other people. Unfortunately as society advances, gratitude and connection with others are practiced less and less.

    We have smart phones that put the internet at our finger tips. Go to any public place and there is someone cursing the slow speed of their internet access. We can cross the world in less than 24 hours - a journey that would have taken years and considerable risk to life just 100 years ago - and go to any airport and you'll see someone having a hissy fit over a late flight.

    Add in the fact that people can't distinguish between a Facebook friend and a real friend and the people who think that text messaging is an acceptable way to end a friendship. You have a society where ingratitude rains and people have difficulty genuinely connecting with others.

    And we wonder why people are so unhappy.
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      Jan 16 2012: Hi Robin,
      No, it's no wonder people are unhappy and searching for happiness. Add to your good list of reasons, the fact that there are a lot of wounded people in our world, who are searching for a way to feel less wounded.

      I agree...we can choose to feel satisfied and/or content, and part of experiencing those feelings is gratitude and connections with people. For me, gratitude is a big step when moving from one life experience to the next. If I don't recognize the challenges I have faced with gratitude for the lessons learned, it is more difficult to move on in the life journey. I think it's important to feel all the emotions, embrace all emotions, and that is how we get to "know" our "self".
  • Jan 16 2012: I also found an easy explanation by Osho, where he makes us see our life as an ocean. He says that till we live a mindless shallow life, we live like on the surface of an ocean. Some waves of emotions take us high some throw us back to lows, we keep getting disturbed by the waves of emotions, we keep struggling with them. But, with a bit of effort, when we go deep inside the ocean, there is an absolute calm; there are no highs or lows. However, most of us cannot dive directly deep into an ocean, one has to face those waves of emotions on the beach of real life, as they come and go and keep striving to go deeper. I personally feel that there is no fun in holding the hand of a god or a guru or a psychologist to dive directly deep into an ocean. “Absolute truth” to self, without any layering, in itself is a god, a guru, a psychologist or a master. Like, we Hindus say when somebody dies “Raam naam satya hai”, “Truth is the God”. It is recited like a mantra while carrying the dead body for cremation, I don’t know if we say it to ourselves or to the dead body :-). The body, which has had its chance, it will be bit late to realize the fact.
    To experience this knowledge which I got from the article & Osho, when I meditated I found that initially I experience a lot of mixed emotions. After sometime, for some moments, the mind disappears, there is no thought, no emotions. This led me to understand that all emotions are originated by some memories from the past or some thoughts of future. While I’m present in the moment, there is no emotion, just an absolute calm. Perhaps most of us are looking for that in our daily life and calling it different names, some call it bliss, some peace, some happiness. And some or perhaps most of us find it too monotonous to live with.
    I’m no god to fully understand such things to conclude them. The forum remains open for your further reflections, experiences and deeper understanding of this phenomenon, for everybody’s good.
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      Jan 16 2012: Hello Manuj,
      It looks like you have been exploring:>)

      I love the metaphor of living on the surface of the ocean...waves of emotions...high and low...sometimes disturbing...we sometimes struggle, and with a bit of effort, we can go deep inside the ocean where there is absolute calm.

      This reminds me of a true experience I had years ago while living aboard a dive boat for a week. Unfortunately, we had serious storms most of the time, and everyone was sea sick, including the crew. We discovered that the ONLY way we could releave the sea sickness was to dive. It was difficult to put the equipment on when feeling sick, but it was necessary. Once in the depths of the ocean, it was indeed peacefull and calm, and we did not feel motion sickness. Sometimes, to discover and connect with the peace and calm in life, it is necessary to dive into a place that on the surface may not look hospitable, but that is indeed where we find peace and calm.

      It also reminds me of a quote I discovered years ago:
      "I tell you how to stave off drowning. Dive down, Embrace it. The sea will spit you back, astonished."
      (David Brendan Hopes - A Sense of the Morning - Nature Through New Eyes)
      • Jan 17 2012: ohh yes Colleen ! I am trying to explore, so far so good, but Its bloody effortful.

        Loved it..."I tell you how to stave off drowning. Dive down, Embrace it. The sea will spit you back, astonished."

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          Jan 17 2012: Effortful? Really?
          Did anyone ever tell you the life journey would be easy??? LOL:>)
          Isn't it WONDERFUL, JOYFUL AND PLEASING though when you make a new discovery?
          That really excites me and motivates me to pursue more....more.....more...........
          I like working/playing/exploring the life experience with the curiosity and unconditional love of a child....have fun with it. This perception causes me to feel happy/content:>)
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    Jan 15 2012: We are expressing emotions as a result of the thoughts we entertain. When emotions are not being expressed, perhaps they are being repressed from ourselves, our conscious minds or suppressed from others?

    Happiness is a spiritual quality, along with joy and peace and understanding etc., So called chasing of happiness does not produce happiness, in fact it keeps one unhappy, strange isn't it?

    The principle "human need" as you describe it is I think the need to live in reality, Spiritual Reality, which requires a transcendence of the human condition. When this occurs, Happiness can become the context in which we start living and forming happier perspectives on daily life.

    Don't waste time chasing Happiness, it is within, if we desire to wake up.
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      Jan 15 2012: Hi Patrick,
      You say..."we are expressing emotions as a result of the thoughts we entertain".
      Change our thoughts, we change our feelings, and change our lives? I agree with that:>)

      Chasing happiness does seem a little "strange" at times, as you say. Perhaps it's not so "strange" to understand when we consider that we are often looking for happiness in all the wrong places? We (humans) are often searching for happiness outside our "self", when, in fact, it is something we have "in" our "self", which you insightfully mention:>)

      I don't agree that experiencing happiness "requires a transcendence of the human condition". Living the human adventure, being totally present in the moment with the human experience is how I enjoy happiness/contentment. If one is striving to transcend the human condition, is that not looking "outside" our human "self" for something? How can we "form "happier perspectives on daily life", if we are trying to transcend the human condition?
  • Jan 14 2012: It iz easier to deny emotions (which iz truth) than to accept and deal with them. As in the truth hurts.One can ignore ANY emotion for a period of time. I feel eventually it will come to the surface almost forcing you to deal with it. Some people never know happiness-ever.can you imagine that ? I feel once you experience true happiness and then you lose it, one yearns for it to come back.Happiness iz a state of mind. People have always been chasing happiness. From the beginning of time. It's the one thing a Mother asks her child once they're grown. "Are you happy honey?"We want it for ourselves, We want it for our loved ones. I feel it iz a human need.We were designed to be happy. It's an inside job.
    • Jan 14 2012: Thanks
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      Jan 14 2012: Dear Dru,
      I love your comment..."it's an inside job"...wonderful and true:>)
  • Jan 13 2012: It feels good. It feels natural. It feels as though that is supposed to be the normal condition of life for everyone.
    I think it is achievable. Using truth in communication - full-time - is one way to achieve it, I think. Using positive words and committing positive acts is another way. We have the power to cause happiness in others and in ourselves. We can use those powers and freedoms we currently possess to generate happiness for ourselves and others.
    • Jan 14 2012: Thanks.
      "Using truth in communication - full-time - is one way to achieve it"....well Rhona, this thought is debatable. The full time truth to self is different from full time truth to other?
      • Jan 16 2012: Manuj, People who treasure truth, know it when they are expressing themselves. If we attune ourselves to others, we may often discern truth in the expressions of others. Listening, for example is a useful thing to do, when one wants to hear, to know truth about something. Manuj, you can do some personal experiments with truth, e.g., speak truth only for 24 hours and observe what is going on. Thank you for expressing your true thoughts here. Best wishes.
        • Jan 17 2012: Rhona, the last time i experimented with truth i created a storm. Nevertheless, i felt light and aligned with life.
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        Jan 17 2012: Hi Manuj,
        You ask... "the full time truth to self is different from full time truth to other?"

        Can we honestly be truthful with others if we are not truthful with ourselves? Can we honestly be happy or content with ourselves if we do not share that with others? Can we give something to others that we cannot, or will not give to our "self"? Do you think/feel that perhaps those who are happy/content/truthful in themselves are the ones who can honestly give that to others? Perhaps everything has to start within our "self"? Is giving or "being" something with our "self" so much different than giving something or "being" a certain way with others?
        • Jan 17 2012: What i meant with it is that one must be absolutely true to himself, however, one should rather choose silence over expressing a hurtful truth to others.
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          Jan 19 2012: Colleen, i love this bit of '"everything has to start within our "self"
          I also think that you have to be before you are.
          And you can only be to the extent that you are.
          you therefore cannot give sth you dont have,

          is it then true that you cannot experience something outside your mentality ??
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          Jan 20 2012: There is no such thing as being truthful to oneself. First, the aforementioned statement implies that there is an essential/constant self. The self, generally speaking, is merely a social construction we impose upon our perception of the world. In short, the self is a convenient fiction we frequently refer to in social situations (i.e. the workplace, social gatherings, etc.), and at times, this narrative undergoes various paradigm shifts: childhood, adolescence, and so on. At this juncture, it would be helpful to paraphrase something Foucalt poignantly touched upon: I am not who I was four years ago. In sum, one can never be "true to oneself, because there is no self to begin with. And Happiness is a lie, etc.
        • Jan 21 2012: Eduardo: Of course there is a self. If the self is a construct (I would argue not so much a social construct as a mental and emotional one), then that is what 'the self' means and is. if the narrative that informs it changes, and thereby alters the construct, that just means the 'self' is not static. It doesn't mean the self doesn't exist. Just because you are not who you were four years ago doesn't mean there wasn't a self then and isn't a self now.
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          Jan 21 2012: Deborah: If the self is fabricated, then does that not presuppose that when we are referring to the self, we are referring to some misconceived understanding of what we call our conscious experience. In a word, does an amnesiac have a sense of self? Human beings have to trick themselves into thinking that there is in fact a constant, unchanging core--who they are, so to speak--that perceives/observes the external world, whilst simultaneously synthesizing disparate bits of sense datum (i.e. watching a movie requires auditory/visual synthesis, etc.). I'm merely arguing that the impetus for seeking a core "self" actually lies in our instinctual fear of death. Humans have a primordial urge to anchor their existence to some stationary, and reliable sense of "self". The self, in a metaphorical sense, is merely an onion composed of various layers of social conditioning. Sometimes, it's a hard pill to swallow, but it this is also something we can't ignore: the "self" you construct for yourself is merely a combination of mannerisms, and abstractions you have retained in your long term memory. Who you are is wholly contingent upon what you have experienced. However, what you have experienced is "retained" in a curious fashion. In the field of neuroscience, the experts generally agree that we are only able to process 15% of the information from sense stimuli, all other sense data is lost in static. Roughly speaking, if we do have a self, it is a self that is based of off a fractured and opened ended narrative--a narrative that is loosely correlated to the actually of reality. "Most of our lives are lived out in our imaginations". The internalized life is something worth looking into, it is a world rife with dead ends and absurdity.
        • Jan 21 2012: Eduardo: You completely miss my point. Whatever the self is, that's what it is. That's how it exists. Of course who we are is contingent upon what we have experienced. So what?Why do you assume it is some kind of misconceived notion just because it is a construct? why is it a dead end?Why absurd? If people are mistaken as to its constancy, they are mistaken, but something called the self is perceived. And, to go back to the original statement you were arguing against, it is possible for us to be truthful, or not truthful, to that self. Maybe even because our self is the sum of our sense and experience and memory and all of those things can be manipulated by our own brains, it is possible for us to deceive ourselves, too. When we don't, we are being truthful. It doesn't matter what the self actually is. It just matters, at least while we are alive, that it exists, because it's the only way we have to perceive what we are at any one time.

          I don't have to trick myself into believing I have a constant, unchanging core. I'm not even the same person I was a week ago. I'm not scared of death (dying, yes, but not of not existing). Not since I left religion and became an atheist, anyway. :)
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          Jan 22 2012: Deborah: Certain religious belief systems are automatically exclusionary (some faiths have a built in "us versus them" mentality). I've noticed numerous instances--throughout history--in which religious ideologies served as main causes for the conflict; the crusades come to mind, the war on terror, etc. Perceived difference has always been a fundamental facet of a "dualistic" form of existence. A daulistic approach of existence argues that the internal self/external world dichotomy is a necessary truth. Upanishadic philosophies (that, in some sense, find commonality with modern quantum physics) posit that existence itself is "non-dualistic"; in other words, there is no "me" within the context of "the universe", there is just "being" in itself--it's just something to think about.
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        Jan 17 2012: AWWWWW .....Got it!

        I thought you were suggesting that truth with our "self" is different than truth with others.

        What you meant is that we can choose to be silent with our truth rather than sharing information that might hurt others. So, the truth, as we percieve it, may not really be "different", but we can choose not to express it?.....I agree:>)
        • Jan 17 2012: Yes :-)... and others can read the silence (sooner or later) without having their ego hurt by the truth.
        • Jan 20 2012: When you are coming from a place of peace and non-judgement you are able to be honest with others without harming their egos but rather as a source of empowerment and change. If your true goal is increased peace and harmony than honesty is the most powerful transformative tool in the human conscious experience.
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          Jan 20 2012: 'Honesty' is an inflated, and misused concept that tacitly suggests something utterly ridiculous: to be 'honest' is to openly convey the 'facts' without dissemblance. How can someone possibly hope to live up to such an arbitrary standard. Honesty presupposes that we understand some 'deeper' truth of the external/internal world. I sad truth is that we have no such understanding. We can only give our best guesses. Instead of saying that we should be 'honest' with others, one should really be saying 'lets be reasonably deceptive with one another'. Conrad had much to say on this issue in his novella Heart of Darkness. Monolithic civilizations that have utilized monetary systems have always had a curious way of operating; ultimately, society expects its citizens to willfully deceive themselves into thinking fiat currency (emphasis on the fiat) has value. This self deception--concomitant with the mutual deception betwixt buyer and seller--is quintessential to the steady operation of the machinery of the modern (and steadily declining) technocratic empire.
        • Jan 21 2012: 'When you are coming from a place of peace and non-judgement you are able to be honest with others without harming their egos but rather as a source of empowerment and change.'

          It is not possible to try to change someone without first judging them, or why would you see the need? It is also rarely possible to accept a need for change in yourself and effect that change without a hit to the ego. But so what? Do our egos need that level of protection? I'm not disagreeing that we should be kind, but in my experience people who attempt to change others without hurting anyone's feelings usually come across as incredibly patronising in the process.
        • Jan 21 2012: Eduardo: you make a lot of assumptions in your assertions. :/

          'to be 'honest' is to openly convey the 'facts' without dissemblance.' How does conveying the facts (as we perceive them) with tact or consideration or even analysis make that communication dishonest?

          'How can someone possibly hope to live up to such an arbitrary standard.' It is context that renders such a standard arbitrary or not. A request for facts alone from a witness in a law court, for example, is not at all setting a standard of honesty arbitrarily. Also, this seems to argue that we should not expect anyone to be honest, because it is not possible for them to be honest. But that is only true based on your given definition of honesty, which is not at all the way most people define it.

          'Honesty presupposes that we understand some 'deeper' truth of the external/internal world.' No, it doesn't. Honesty is not at all defined by how clearly we understand the truth fo the matter. Honesty is reporting the matter as we understand it. Complete honesty means that there is no difference between what we perceive to be the truth of a matter and what we communicate about that matter. We add nothing. We leave nothing out. If we are mistaken, then we are, but if we delivered what we perceived to the truth, then we were not dishonest.
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          Jan 21 2012: " Honesty is reporting the matter as we understand it. Complete honesty means that there is no difference between what we perceive to be the truth of a matter and what we communicate about that matter."
          Deborah: I find the aforementioned statement quite problematic; it presupposes that there is flawless translation in terms of externalizing internal thought processes. This, unfortunately, is not the case--I am referring to linguistic barriers. The constraints of language force us to be "reasonably deceptive". You can never hope to be "honest" with anyone, because language forces us to push our thoughts through the liminal threshold of vocal/written expression. Once an internal abstraction is molded into the metaphorical box of a word, something magical happens: the meaning of your original sentiment takes on a whole new life. In essence, the word's prefigured meaning covertly influences the meaning of your original 'intention'. Therefore, systems of language have their own particular influence on expression--they end up readjusting and re-configuring the original "message".
        • Jan 21 2012: Eduardo: It doesn't presuppose anything. And communicating poorly is not deception. Failure to entirely translate thought into words is not deception. Deception must involve intent to deceive, or there is no deceit. If you had said that we cannot hope to perfectly convey our thoughts, well fair enough. But to say we can't hope to be honest is just ridiculous. Honestly does not depend on perfect expression or perfect understanding - only an absence of deliberate deception or omission.

          Does it ever occur to you that fiercely pulling apart words this way is counter-productive to real discussion? Serously, in a discussion on the statement, 'we can only be true to others if we are true to ourselves', a deconstruction of the concept of self is about the least useful distraction I can think of. In order to have the discussion at all, one has to assume (even if only hypothetically) the existence of a self. And that seems a reasonable place to discuss from, seeing as every functioning human being in the world (including you who believes it is delusion) has a sense of self.
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          Jan 21 2012: We are still always engaged in various degrees of self deception. The mind has an instinctual drive to associate sense stimuli with elaborate false narratives; human beings associate emotional/anthropomorphic characteristics to the objects-or events-we perceive (i.e. the color red and its correlation with 'passion'). The problem arises when perceived difference facilitates conflict. When humans begin to realize that constructs like 'identity' and self are merely tools used by the power dynamic in order to keep population centers fragmented, we can start looking forward to positive social change.
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        Jan 17 2012: Manuj,
        I believe we came full circle with part of this topic. I percieve the practice of "reading the silence", as an underlying perception or intuition. When/if we are in tune with all emotions, we have opened the heart and mind to accept more information, which is carried by the energy that flows through our body/mind. So, rather than chasing happiness, we can recognize the energy of happiness/contentment flowing through us?
        • Jan 17 2012: Yes, i thought that everybody here is slowly zeroing in from extreme emotions to fine emotions like contentment/bliss/peace till i saw Amanda taking it to another level by asking 'Do we want to be that content all the time?"....haha, now, that makes me feel like we came full circle with part of this topic.

          Practice of reading silence would be very interesting. I feel that more communication happens by the silence between words and letters than by the words themselves. However, one needs to be very very sensitive to read silence even without words. You, ladies, are good at that.

          "When/if we are in tune with all emotions, we have opened the heart and mind to accept more information, which is carried by the energy that flows through our body/mind.", Thanks.
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        Jan 17 2012: I agree Manuj, that communication often happens in silence...between words. We need to be able to feel, or intuit on that level, for that to you say...very sensitive:>)

        So, back to happiness/contentment. Most people on this thread agree that it is something within ourselves, rather than external....correct?

        What do you think and feel about this statement?
        We can obtain, sustain and experience happiness/contentment to the extent that we are willing and able to explore within our "self"?
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          Jan 18 2012: Well put Coleen !

          And may I add,.... whatever other emotion and or feeling we would like to experience in our lives both positive or otherwise !

          Remember, its the intention & attention that governs the intensity !

          This explains why say, two people may go through the same experience whether good or otherwise but experience it on differing levels of intensity.
        • Jan 18 2012: Colleen: "Most people on this thread agree that it is something within ourselves, rather than external....correct? " yes, thats why we dont need to chase it, just stop and see.

          "We can obtain, sustain and experience happiness/contentment to the extent that we are willing and able to explore within our "self""...well, like i said, there is nothing to be obtained and sustained, we just need to stop and see that what is, is. It can only be experienced with in. The challenge in sustaining it is not in making an effort but in stopping ourselves from making efforts to obtain it....even from with in.
      • Jan 17 2012: Manuj, " created a storm...." We have a choice about what to focus on. Sometimes we focus on positive truths and sometimes we focus on negative truths. It's a free country. Take your choice. You do have the option of focusing on positive truths and expressing them. You might want to try that experiment. Truth is the main thing. As you said, you got some substantial benefit from your truth expressions. Feeling "light and aligned with life" seems pretty valuable to me. Happy today.
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          Jan 18 2012: Thanks Rhona,

          Ultimately, the choice is yours.Focus on the good and experience it with the intensity of the focus.You may however experience things that you never focused on (read no so good),but these will not afflict you intensly cause your focus was elsewhere.

        • Jan 18 2012: Rhona:
          From my experience...a truth is a truth...there are no layers of good/bad or positive/negative. If we begin to layer it, then our power of inner vocabulary takes over and begins to justify every layer of it to ourselves. However, the expression of it to others can be termed as harmful or beneficial in that time and space... thats the only choice we express it or to choose silence.
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          Jan 18 2012: Rhona, Mwenjew and Manuj,
          I like this idea that is developing:>) I agree Mwenjew...what we focus on expands:>)

          What happens when/if we do not need to label experiences/situations as good/bad/positive/negative? What happens when/if we view a situation from a neutral place in our "self" without labeling it? What if we suspend our "truth", as we may label it, and percieve something from a different level of understanding?

          I think of my near fatal head/brain injury and cancer for example. I wouldn't exactly say these were "good" experiences, nor would I say they were "bad" or "negative" experiences. They were simply challenges that needed to be met in some way.

          As Mwenjew insightfully says..."Ultimately, the choice is yours".:>)
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          Jan 19 2012: Colleen, me thinks that by default, human beings simply expresses how a certain experience makes them feel and thus the labelling, which in my view falls as good or not good but we give them all sorts of names in a bid to specify the particular feeling.

          Am impressed by how you handled the injury and cancer experience, product of elevated thought, where you are the captain of your ship and determine how a certain experience is going to affect you instead of the reverso, being at the mercy of whatever happens to you
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          Jan 19 2012: Mwenjew,
          Me thinks that humans often want to "KNOW" and be able to define the answer NOW, and that is why we sometimes get attached to a way to "prove" that we KNOW the answer? And who are we "proving" that to...our "self"? I believe that when we are content/happy in our "self" there is nothing to prove, nothing to label, and we can detach from any attachment to believing we "know" anything:>)

          Thanks for your kind words regarding the injury and cancer exploration. The head/brain injury was an excellent lesson in detachment from labeling, detachment from expectations, detachment from "knowing" anything at all!!! Interesting, because at the same time, I was divorcing after 24 years of marriage and my mother and father died around the same about lessons in detachment!!! LOL:>)

          After the head injury and craniotomy though...after living...when they said I would not live ...after being unconscious and hooked up to life support systems for a couple weeks... they told me I would never function "normally" again. One question to myself at the time was..."WHAT THE HECK DOES THAT MEAN"???

          At first I could not even walk or talk, so I detached from what I was PRIOR to the injury. I detached from any espectations of what I might be, or how I might function in the future. I detached from anything I had previously known about my "self", and dedicated myself to a new life exploration. I was content/happy in believeing that I would function to the best of my ability at any given time regardless of the circumstances.

          This, I believe to be the underlying sense of happiness/contentment that is within all of us. We do not have to chase it. We have that energy flowing through all of us:>)
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          Jan 20 2012: Colleen, WOW !

          I stand here .had to give u a standing ovation, least i could do. speechless, with no right words to express what I feel for you right now as they would seem sooo feeble next to your deeds.

          You say, I believe that when we are content happy in our self there is nothing to prove, nothing to label, and we can detach from any attachment to believing we know anything.

          This is absolutely amazing. I like this new concept of detachment, as it provides you with the CHOICE of what you would like to reattach to for your benefit. And even after all you went through you still believed that you would function to the BEST of your ability REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES !

          Colleen, I feel humbled and honoured to draw from your fountain of knowledge.

          Keep sharing.
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          Jan 21 2012: Dear Mwenjew,
          Thank you for your kind words AND standing ovation:>)

          There are, of course, many people in our world who face unbelievable challenges in their lives, and mine seems insignificant. One thing I often do, when facing my own challenges, is read about people who have moved through incredible situations, and it seems to minimizes my challenge. Another thing I often do when challenged, is volunteer to work with people who are much more challenged in his/her life. Change our thoughts, we can change our feelings, and change our lives. My purpose in sharing my life adventures, is to help inspire others in moving through their's pretty simple:>)

          Yes, I believe that when we are content, there is nothing to prove and we can detach from any attachment. You know this is not a new idea...right? This information has been passed down by teachers, psychologists, philosophers, sages, guides and gurus throughout history. I'd like to claim that it is my original idea, but I cannot:>)

          Yes, we can make choices regarding how we accept and deal with the challenge. With my head/brain injury, for example, I did not consciously "choose" the circumstances. And I cannot deny the incredible lessons I learned from being fully present with the situation.

          For example, I had the opportunity to move from a child like state to adulthood TWICE in this same cool is that!!! First when I was born and secondly after the head/brain injury.

          When I regained consciousness after the injury and craniotomy, I was AGAIN in a child like state emotionally and physically. Somewhere in the back of my mind (such as it was) I remembered that I learned to walk and talk before, and I believed I could do it again. I wasn't sure to what level, but I was going to do the best I could. Interestingly enough, a few months later, cognitive tests indicated that I was high average/superior!!! How the heck did THAT happen??? LOL:>)
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        Jan 18 2012: Manuj,
        You write..."The challenge in sustaining it is not in making an effort but in stopping ourselves from making efforts to obtain it". I certainly don't think/feel we need to chase happiness/contentment, and we can stop "chasing" if we choose to.

        I agree with Mwenjew's statement however..."Remember, its the intention & attention that governs the intensity !" In that respect, I believe that sustaining happiness/contentment is supported with our intention, attention, mindfulness, awareness, etc., and that takes a certain amount of effort, don't you think?

        This is what you wrote yesterday:>)
        "ohh yes Colleen ! I am trying to explore, so far so good, but Its bloody effortful".

        I agree...exploring, attention, intention, awareness, mindfulness, etc. takes effort:>)
        • Jan 18 2012: yes ....there's constant effortfulness in sustaining a state of effortlessness.
          There is a very thin line. There is a thought involved even in stopping the mind from thinking. The more we do this mental walk the thinner the rope becomes...and sooner we reach a state of a ropeless walk, the mind gets astonished... gets awakened just to make the bloody rope appear again...and so on and so forth. I dont know what happens after that, haven't gone ahead of this yet.
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          Jan 19 2012: Brilliant !
          >>..."The challenge in sustaining it is not in making an effort but in stopping ourselves from making efforts to obtain it".

          I think this is excellent, its a good indication of our true state of being.

          Manuj, ROPELESS WALK - love it !
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          Jan 20 2012: We can never stop chasing any facet of our perception, we are literally living in the past--and always trying to catch up to the 'present'. In other words, I'm referring to the millisecond lapse between events that have already occurred, and when your brain processes this information. We are chasing our perception of reality itself.
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        Jan 18 2012: Manuj, may take effort if it is a new concept we are embracing:>)

        The more we practice, the less effort it takes and it becomes a natural, normal state after my humble perception and experience:>)
        • Jan 20 2012: Thanks Colleen. Come to think of a new concept...How about if the humans race becomes emotionless by dissolving all extreme or subtle emotions? Will we become robots ? Animals ?Trees ? Rocks ? Rivers ?

          That also makes me think, that i am yet to see an alien with extreme emotions in any sci-fi film, except Mars Attack. In ET, the emotions of the alien are very subtle. I think film makers are some of the most important people in shaping societies. What do you think? Do we need a film "In pursuit of nothingness"?

          Why TED allows only three layers of dissection of a thought? Cant put fourth thread without breaking continuity of thoughts.
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      Jan 21 2012: Dear Manuj,
      I'm honestly not very fond of your "new concept"..."is the humans race becomes emotionless by dissolving all extreme or subtle emotions?" Why would we want to do that to ourselves? I LOVE experiencing all the emotions, because it reminds me that I am alive and living life with gusto!

      I agree with you that films contribute to shaping societies. Many times, in sci-fi films, we see things that much later are proven with scientific research:>) Did you see Avatar? Emotions CAN be subtle. Just because we don't express emotions with extreme outward actions/reactions does not mean we don't feel emotions on a very deep level. In fact, maybe it is a deeper level, when we're not "spending" the energy with all the common outward manifestations? That's one reason I keep using the word contentment rather than happiness. The feeling of "contentment" seems to be more subtle and quiet, while the feeling of happiness seems to be more acting/reacting...what do you think?

      Yes, TED allows only three layers of comments, and I realize that Rhona will get the notice for this response...oh may get it eventually Manuj:>)
      • Jan 24 2012: Colleen, Just reached my maximum in thumbs up for you so you will have to receive my thumbs up using extrasensory perception. That may be a more efficient way to communicate anyway. I think today we may as well create fun-filled fabulous days for ourselves and everyone we encounter. Happy Right Now.
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          Jan 24 2012: Rhona,
          I got it by ESP...LOL:>)
          The thumbs up are fun, because it reminds me that I'm having discussions with like minded people. That however (discussions with like minded people) creates the pleasure and joy of this TED experience...thank you for that:>)
      • Jan 25 2012: Again I could not give you a thumbs up. So............:>)
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    Jan 13 2012: If one really believes in happiness one doesn't have to chase it! The chase/pursuit expresses something which is hard attain or impossible at all. As if we are trying to catch up with a running cheetah to get the best possible shot/glimpse of it. It's hardly manageable without the additives like a jeep or a camera with great zoom.
    My point here is that all the tools we need are within us we shouldn't look for happiness outside of us! Just believe and search for it deep inside yourself ...
  • Jan 13 2012: "I went looking for paradise and found hell. Only to discover that we carry them inside us wherever we go".
    - Christopher Columbus.
  • Jan 13 2012: To reach true happiness, we need to know what is the purpose of our life.
    People need to eat every day to supply their bodies with energy and to keep themselves healthy. If they stop eating for a period of time, diseases will sneak up upon them and overtake them, and perhaps even kill them. Similarly, people also need food of another kind, food for the spirit and heart. It is unfortunate that while people are careful never to forget to feed their bodies, they do not show the same concern for the health of their souls and hearts. The heart needs food as the body does. The diseases of the body and the debilitating effects they have are not more dangerous than the diseases of the heart and soul.
    • Jan 14 2012: Thanks Kareem. To know the purpose of existence is a must, i think being one the natural self (including our natural feelings/emotions) at all times helps in finding and meeting it.
  • Jan 12 2012: I assume the main reason is because society convinces people that being 'happy' is either
    1) Something that must be attained at all costs
    2)The default position
    A perspective that I assume can infact be harmful to humans, potentially directing people towards materialistic greed (as a substitute for actual happiness?) or suicide when failing to meet the 'requirement' (among many examples).

    I don't believe there are many (if any) examples of the strive for happiness among other animals.. Nor do I see examples of Suicide of Greed among those animals either. Whether correlation = causation in this case, I don't know..
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      Jan 12 2012: I think the opposite, the search for happiness is the normal drive for life with animals as well as humans.

      If you look at a singing bird. It takes a seed and is happy to find it, it looks around and find another seed and again it is happy. In spring it's the same as it finds a strow for the nest and again and again.
      If a human being can follow his or her bliss s/he will be happy all the time.

      If there's nothing ahead, no perspective, people can become unhappy, suicidal even.
      • Jan 12 2012: 'If you look at a singing bird. It takes a seed and is happy to find it, it looks around and find another seed and again it is happy'

        I question whether this is actually 'happiness' or just a sustaining of its existence by doing what it needs to do (being content).
        Lets try a polar bear. Is it actually demonstrating happiness that it caught a fish, or is it merely indifferent or fine with its catch and WE project our feelings of accomplishment onto its accomplishment?

        'If a human being can follow his or her bliss s/he will be happy all the time.'

        Well let us take celebrities for example. They began wishing to fulfill their dream by earning large amounts of money and admiration for presenting their talent and are now doing so..Are famous celebrities historically known for being consistently happy?
        Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt that people can be happy by following their ideals, but having a sustained permanent happiness doesn't appear to be realistic to me, based on what I can observe from people.
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          Jan 13 2012: A few remarks:
          Being content and being happy, I can't see much difference there.
          And most celebrities aren't content or happy they search for a kick.
          The ego always need a kick to get happy because it has nothing of its own. And of course the pressure they have to bear by impresario’s and to always live up to the expectations people have. If you just love to make your product you can easily get mad.
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          Jan 13 2012: The truth about bliss................... is that it is not something you "follow".
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          Jan 15 2012: There are two types of people "Those that believe they are the only sentient beings with free will, emotions and consciousness." and "Those that believe all things are beings of consciousness, emotion and free will."

          Personally, I believe that people don't maintain happiness, because they don't fully understand it. Contentment and fulfillment are what cultivate happiness, not things or actions or careers all by themselves. Celebrities aren't happy, not because they got what they wanted, but because one of our basic needs that we have to meet in order to be "happy", is Variety/Uncertainty. We aren't happy if things are the same all the time. Most people don't understand this, though I know you do, and that's what stops most people from being "happy".

          If everyone understood that we have a true need for Variety and Uncertainty, they wouldn't wallow in unhappiness so much. They would realize that they can bring back that happiness, simply by finding fulfilling ways to sate their need for Variety. as well as their other needs.

          In essence, what happens with all people who are successful is that they achieve success and do it again and again and again, then get bored with it, and start to create failures just for the change of scenery, emotion and experience. This all usually happens on a subconscious level though, making it appear out of the persons control. Though once you come into conscious control and awareness of your needs, you have the ultimate control over how to fulfill them anytime you need, and to be happy when ever you wish.
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          Jan 15 2012: "all things are beings of consciousness", and we humans are the ones with free will and choice to rise within our good spirit from animal and transform ourselves through love :)
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        Jan 13 2012: "If there's nothing ahead, no perspective, people can become unhappy, suicidal even."

        Yes, I agree. But I don't think that happiness lay in future, I guess the most happy people are those who live in this proper moment, not in past or future. In that meaning we could say that happy people don't care about future. They are happy, positive so they probably know that whatever happens it will be fine, but they are in NOW, not in TOMORROW :) I guess the most happy people I met, where just like this :) And I don't mean short-term happiness, but the long one :)
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          Jan 13 2012: It's exactly like you say it is for those that has arrived, that are matured, are in balance and at peace. Like a cat after dinner, it stretches and lays down to enjoy its being.
          But life runs a program and young people need to find their way, meet their desires and can only develop further if they satisfy them. If they're stuck because any outlook on work, house, a loved one etc. is barren they can't mature and get unhappy.
          So happiness is the drive to get at the right place, to develop and to enjoy life forever.
        • Jan 14 2012: Thanks Marcin
      • Jan 14 2012: Thanks Frans.
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      Jan 13 2012: Happiness - "Is it a human need ?" I guess so :) I did an excercise like this, during some training:
      1. You take whatever action into consideration
      2. You ask Yourself a question "why do I do this" until U go to an end, to statement which don't change anymore
      3. In my and others experience, always on the end was happiness :) whatever we took on the beginning

      For example:
      - I do water plants in the garden
      - why?
      - so they live and grow healthy
      - why?
      - cause I like to have healty plants in the garden
      - why?
      - cause they are nice looking/tasty and I feel nice being in green nice garden
      - why?
      - cause it gives me a good feeling, comfort, it makes me happy
      - why You want good feeling of comfort?
      - it makes me happier :) to by happy :)

      You can try it for Yourself and write me what happend :)

      If it would be so, that in every action we look for parts of happiness, small "income" of happiness, then wouldn't it be a need for humans to be happy? And even more.. wouldn't it be THE MAIN NEED, the HIGHEST one to humans? :)
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      Jan 13 2012: "I don't believe there are many (if any) examples of the strive for happiness among other animals.. Nor do I see examples of Suicide of Greed among those animals either. Whether correlation = causation in this case, I don't know.."

      I guess we don't know the emotions of animals. I guess a statement that we know them is a part of ignorance actually, as we have no way to check it with full certainty, or I haven't heard of such. No, I did, sorry. I heard of an experiment where to rat's mind was put an electrode, which did activate pleasure area of the mind, each time he did push the button. There was another button, which give food after pushing. Every time doing the experiment the rat did push only the first button, not pushing the second one and dying from hunger.

      I know that pleasure is not the same as happiness. Pleasure is rather short-term and happiness long-term. Rat may feel something like orgasm, I don't know how strong it was, but all of them did die from hunger, so we can say that animals do have at least hedonistic nature.

      And according to my higher post on the "why?" excercise, I guess animals as well do everything to be happy. There are many differences, bigger or smaller, like that they do act instinctively more often, but I guess all their actions are to lead them to happiness.

      And about greed, my cat eat so much that he do vomit. I don't know if it's sick, but seems to be greedy for food, as it happened many many times, maybe a 100 ones or more. I would expect him to learn not to eat to much after some number of times, just like Pawlow's dog.

      About suicides I heard about lemmings which are supposed to die in big numbers sometimes, but it's just like hearing, haven't checked it. And maybe, probably I think, it's not cause of suicidal motivation but rather risk taking motivation when there's not enough food for the population or something.
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        Jan 13 2012: Maybe your cat is sick. I know there are humans that can't feel that they've eaten enough for a defect in a sensor in the stomach. Maybe the same can happen with cats.
        What you tell about lemmings I know of and indeed if they're overpopulated and can't find enough food. They run en masse into the sea and drown. Maybe they lack sufficient predators and found a way to keep the population down by getting depressive. Nothing new in the animal kingdom. What we have with humans you find everywhere. I kept fishes for a long time and you can observe all this kind of behavior with fishes as well. If they haven't the space they need, if water is bad depression follows, resistance goes down and they get sick and die.
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    Jan 24 2012: I personally seek happiness because the effects of fear and anxiety seem damaging to my mental health.
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        Jan 25 2012: Manuj,
        I think I may understand what Tyne is expressing, and hopefully she will pop in to clarify. You say Manuj..."lets forget happiness for a moment. Seek Fear & Anxiety".

        Here is another "experiment" I suggest, and it is a way that I live my life. Try embracing the feelings of happiness, fear and anxiety all at the same time. We are multidementional, multi sensory beings, capable of experiencing several emotions/feelings at the same time. I call this being comfortable with discomfort:>) For me, happiness/contentment is a way of life that is part of the foundation of who I am and how I live my life. We can be frightened and anxious, and also realize that it is part of the life experience, so we can, at the same time, be patient, compassionate and unconditionally loving with our "self". This is how the underlying feeling of happiness/contentment can be part of every moment of our lives.

        Perhaps Tyne is saying that she focuses on the happiness rather than fear and anxiety? When we focus on fear and anxiety, that becomes the reality in our lives. When we focus on an underlying happiness/contentment that we can tap into, then that becomes the dominating reality:>)

        After my head/brain injury/craniotomy, while unconscious, hooked up to life support systems in ICU, they say that I was smiling and giving everyone thumbs up, even when the body was near death. Happiness/contentment is one of the dominant "parts" of the underlying foundation of my life, no matter what is happining in my life...or death:>)
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          Jan 25 2012: Colleen, that is how I feel. I seek happiness and do my best not to cultivate negative and nervous feelings. Anxiety is unhealthy to experience.
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        Jan 25 2012: Manuj, I have severe reactions to anxiety (blacking out) and I investigate anxious feelings as they occur. When I do this exercise of holding anxiety inside I feel stress on my heart and my body feels light and weak. Mentally I feel separate from my body's experience and maintain a calm demeanor through an anxiety 'attack'.
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          Jan 25 2012: It sounds like you know yourself pretty well Tyne. Investigate....I like that! We can investigate ALL feelings and emotions in every moment. I think holding onto anxiety causes everyone stress and illness at many different levels, don't you? That seems to be one of the reasons for "stress" in our world...people holding onto feelings of frustration, anxiety, anger, etc?

          I believe emotions/feeling are meant to flow, rather than be held onto, and that's why I like the use of the word investigation Tyne. When you say "cultivate negativity and nervous feelings", you mean focus on them? Hold onto them? I agree that to cultivate and focus on negative, nervous feelings is unhealthy for the body/mind.

          Thanks for asking Manuj, what do I suggest? I suggest that it is not helpful to tell another person what s/he "needs" to do.
        • Jan 25 2012: True Colleen. Thanks
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          Jan 25 2012: Manuj,
          Like I said, it appears that Tyne knows herself pretty well, and can probably teach us if we are open to that possibility:>)
        • Jan 25 2012: Colleen, you are right. There is a learning in how she copes up with her negative emotions. My intention in suggesting a different approach was to figure the root of her extreme emotions (anxiety & fear). I felt responsible and made a suggestion.
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    Jan 24 2012: we don't. it chases us but we keep on missing it.
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      Jan 24 2012: Hi Jean-Pierre,
      You touched on a very important piece of the puzzle:>) "It chases us but we keep on missing it".
      I agree!!!

      Opportunities for happiness are all around us...the people we love and who love us...the fact that most of us have food in our belly, a safe shelter, clean drinking water, and freedom. To me, these are things I am grateful for, and happy/content with every day of my life. How many people in our world do not have even the very basic needs met? I agree Jean-Pierre, that many times we are missing happiness........ because we are too busy chasing happiness?
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        Jan 26 2012: "Opportunities for happiness are all around us"

        Colleen, Colleen, Colleen !
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      Jan 24 2012: Maybe if we stopped moving, it would catch us.
    • Jan 25 2012: Jean, Colleen, Thomas,

      I agree with all of you here. However, i would like to put it bit differently.

      I feel that no emotion is chasing us. We are a set of different emotions in different proportions. And mostly, all are caused by us and exist with us all the time. However, we want to have & feel only the pleasurable ones. Its ok (if not good) till this point. I think the problem begins when we think that this art of self deception is the way of life. We keep ourselves/mind busy with the chase of happiness/pleasure so that we dont have to experience self in totality.
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    Jan 24 2012: We do not learn that happiness is not a possession but a momentary feeling because we first depend and believe that external stimuli is the only source. Most of us are not in a meditative state or fulfilled in quiet solitude. Happiness as a quest thus leads to frustration because we keep changing our measure according to society, and believe it is linked to possession. Happiness is what one finds occasionally when one enjoys ones work and can afford to live with integrity.
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      Jan 24 2012: Hi Uday,
      What happens when we DO NOT "keep changing our measure according to society"? What if we have our own measure?

      What do you mean when you say..."...can afford to live with integrity"? Are you suggesting that integrity has a cost attached to it? I don't quite understand your statement.
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        Jan 25 2012: Hi Colleen, sorry to have been silent because as the conversation gets more subjective and philosophical, that means we all have different perceptions. I would be repetitive and say that IIF one is active in this messy urban existence (and not in a constant state of bliss in some remote island or cave) then we must know that happiness is not "something" but just a fortunate experience and it was relatively momentary. The FIRST experiences of happiness are almost always because of an external stimulus.One is happy and thrilled with something new, a new place and new addition to the family and then the big achievement and hope is that one remains satisfied with that. One cannot be happy with the same thing as a constant and someone will disagree using semantics and say "i am in a happy place". That happens to fortunate people but is almost always relative to others. IN THAT connection i said our measure "keeps changing for happiness according to our changing environment and society. This gives us the relative comparison of our state of happiness. Then you asked "can afford to live with integrity". If you believe that the "measure changes relative to our achievements and so, what we now believe to be the NEXT external need for happiness" we evolve to that happi"er"place. BUT only if we are living with integrity". Bad people are happy doing bad things and so since all of us here are hopefully talking about "legal, clean and honorable experiences of happiness" i mentioned "if we afford to live with integrity". In India we see lots of urban poverty and increasing crime. One can say that the criminal must be thrilled and happy the day he snatches a chain from a ladies neck ( a big source for criminals and similar to snatching a bag). In India the value of a chain around almost every ladies neck (which made her very happy) has become disproportionate in value to income. Difficult to argue about perceptions. Each persons experience is therefore "their honest truth"
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          Jan 25 2012: Uday,
          Are you saying that living in the "messy urban existence" is NOT happy, while "in a constant state of bliss in some remote island or cave" IS happy? Some people may percieve the opposite:>)

          I don't believe that our external circumstances necessarily creates happiness. It is our perception of our circumstances that cause us to be content, or not. As you say, "we must know that happiness is not "something"". It is a feeling we have in ourselves. So, I don't agree that happiness is simply a "fortunate experience", but rather how we percieve the experience. I don't agree that happiness is "almost always because of an external stimulus". External stimulus may cause one level of happiness, and I don't think/feel that it is the underlying happiness we have been talking about here. I don't agree that the "criminal must be thrilled and happy". I worked with criminals in the dept. of corrections for 6 years, and I did not witness "happiness".
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      Jan 25 2012: Uday, Collen,

      Can you really experience true happiness without integrity ?
      Or even other emotions feelings such as joy, love, harmony, contentment, or even success ?
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        Jan 25 2012: why one specifically mentioned "integrity" is that evil people also derive happiness from evil deeds. We are hopefully concerned about ethical living and honest happiness which is not based on making others miserable. Many evil sciences exist who believe that your gain or happiness ( a plus) can come easier if you create a MINUS ( misery) elsewhere. Does that familiar? Its actually now a profession and is called Politics. SO if the question would be how does a politicians become happy?? The answer would be by making many many people miserable. This is actually a scientific strategy but i will not go into it here and intend it to be taken as jest.
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        Jan 25 2012: Mwenjew,
        "an unimpaired condition; soundness; firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values; incorruptibility; the quality or state of being complete or undivided; completeness; honesty".

        Personally, I could not experience true happiness, which includes all feelings and emotions without integrity. Could someone else? Good question! I don't think so. As Uday points out, however, "evil people derive happiness from evil deeds". I don't agree with that, because although people sometimes may appear to be happy while performing an evil deed, I think that evil deeds adversly impact us on another level. I don't honestly think/feel that evil deeds create happiness.
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          Jan 26 2012: Uday, Colleen,

          I like this word - incorruptibility
          Morally degenerate, tainted and not genuine are words that can be used to describe corrupt.

          I tend to think that these evil people mistake the rush of adrenalin, and as we learnt of dopamine and seratonin, that they get from doing evil deeds to be happiness !

          The question here then is, whatever these evil people are feeling, take a step back, watch them closely. Can you honestly say that they are experiencing true happiness ?
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    Jan 23 2012: We only chase happiness if we are not already happy (and if we want to be.)

    And I don't think we "chase happiness" (happiness is an inner emotional state) we chase things we think will make us happy. Usually we are wrong.

    For example, many of us "want" children because we think they will make us happy. We are so convinced kids will make us happy, we tell ourselves, and others, we are happy when we do have children. But, it turns out, we are actually happier without children. ("We" is the general "we" ... there are exceptions.)

    We may think money, or religion will make us happy only to find they don't.

    We chase things we think will make us happy.
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      Jan 23 2012: I agree that we chase that which we think will make us happy. I also agree that these things will not make us happy, because happiness dos come from inner contentment. Money, religion, children will not make us happy.

      However, while I have known people who have indeed had children to try to save a marriage (believing that it would create a bond, and subsequently, bring happiness), I must state that the vast majority of people have children for two reasons: they either are content with their lives and realize that it is time to take that next step in life, or they've had a big "oops!". (yes, I've had children under both condittions).

      But I will say that regardless of circumstances, children themselves bring to our lives a happiness that is indescribable, because they bring this happiness along with the stress and the tensions and the worry.

      Yes, I have read articles that say the childless are happier, but I disagree with your implication that people in general choose to become parents in order to chase elusive happiness - that chase is more in the realm of chasing money, power, prestige, things, and sex. But not children.
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        Jan 23 2012: QUOTE: ".... children themselves bring to our lives a happiness that is indescribable, because they bring this happiness along with the stress and the tensions and the worry."

        Virtually everyone says this (it's a variation on "children are a blessing.") But using different testing methods, when we measure how happy people are with children (not how happy they say they were) it turns out there are not that many things that make us less happy than being with our children (commuting is one.)

        QUOTE: "Yes, I have read articles that say the childless are happier, but I disagree with your implication that people in general choose to become parents in order to chase elusive happiness - that chase is more in the realm of chasing money, power, prestige, things, and sex. But not children."

        Perhaps it's been a while since you spent time with 18 to 30 year old men and women ... children are often perceived as a source of happiness.

        This seems to be true of women everywhere but, here in China, the men also embrace this belief ... more so than in North America.

        My last two comments are anecdotal and based on my personal observation.


        It is likely we "choose" to become parents because we are biological organisms and that is what we are programmed to do. If we thought procreating would make us unhappy, it would defeat the purpose. It makes sense that believing children will make us happy would be a thought pattern that would be "selected" for.
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          Jan 24 2012: I'm well aware of the tests, and yes, there is a happiness that is measurably greater for us when we are empty nesters (but only so long as we have maintained a healthy marriage independent of the children).

          I can not comment on Chinese culture, but I can accede to the point that the biological need to procreate might be perceived as a chasing of happiness. However, I interpreted the question to be speaking to what we consciously determine will make us happy - such as buying that car or landing that promotion. Yes, it's been awhile since I've been 18, but i would venture to say that relatively few people say, " I'm unhappy. A kid would certainly solve that!"

          As for consciously chasing what we think will make us happy, yes, we do. The sadness is that often we will chase what we think will make us happy, but we either never achieve it, or when we do,we find that it is hollow and empty.

          And yes . . . Regardless of what happiness or misery they being, children are a blessing. As cliche as that sounds, they are. We can't often see it, but their blessing is that they force us out of our own selfish need to chase our own happiness, and find that fulfillment though the fulfilling of the needs of others.
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        Jan 24 2012: Hi Verble Gherulous,

        We seem to be in agreement on several points.

        However, I do not think people say, "I am unhappy ... let's have a kid." In fact, most of us would not say we were unhappy at all ... probably because we are not unhappy.

        I think the point is, we often think something else will make us happy (or happier) and I do think kids would be one of those things.

        I also think it is useful to make a distinction between happiness, pride, and other positive emotions. We do feel pride in our children (usually) ... and we have a justifiable sense of pride in ourselves when our kids turn out to be not too badly damaged. So, sure, having kids is satisfying on some levels (by the way I do have one) but that is not the same thing as saying kids make us happy.

        QUOTE: "... [children] force us out of our own selfish need to chase our own happiness, and find that fulfillment though the fulfilling of the needs of others."

        I disagree with this statement. "Chasing happiness" is not selfish ... it is what we do. It is our primary responsibility.

        For example, Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

        And biologically, we are programmed to maintain homeostasis ... if we are "out of balance," we seek balance. (We're just not always right about what will restore our equilibrium.)

        We should "chase happiness" until we "catch it." It's just we need to chase it in "the right way." If we are chasing a dog and it goes east, we will not catch it if we go west.

        And we cannot fulfill ourselves by fulfilling others. We can, and I think we should, draw pleasure from creating an environment that enables others to fulfill themselves. But we cannot fulfill their needs for them, nor will helping them fulfill their needs, fulfill ours.

        You cannot drink water for me. I cannot eat food for you.
        • Jan 24 2012: I disagree with your view that having children, and being a parent, is not a source of happiness. Having had a child 15 months ago "by accident" rather than purposefully seeking a child as a means of fixing a relationship or making myself happy, I can honestly say that my child makes me genuinely happy in a way that literally nothing else can - even though I strongly suspected I would feel the opposite. I did not want to be a parent and always held a cynical view of parenthood - as a childless person until the age of 28, I felt pity for those that had accidentally been saddled with child and saw them as having messed their lives up and sacrificed the prime of their lives by having children. On the night my daughter was born (when her mother went into labour, but before she was born) I was depressed and felt that all the good things in my life were about to end as I was forced into being a parent.

          At the moment of her birth, and as I held her, I was overwhelmed with what I can only describe as feeling a deep, unique flood of perfect love and joy, along with disbelief at having become a parent - we had created another human being!

          In the months following I definitely had ups and downs, and often wondered what might have been had I not accidentally become a father. But as time has gone on, my child's existence has created a maturity and joy in me that I couldn't have accessed without her being in my life. Her happiness, which is undemanding, innocent and beautiful, is my happiness. Watching her playing at the beach, or dancing to music, or learning something new and wondrous that we, as adults, take for granted (the sensation of a cat's fur, the taste of an olive, an acoustic guitar chord) gives me constant joyous moments, along with a general feeling of emotional warmth and and contentment when I am spending time with her. My life is much, much happier thanks to having my daughter in it. My guess is that the majority of parents would feel the same.
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          Jan 25 2012: Excellent Mary,

          I also enjoy giving.

          As you say, time, mind, energy, complements, hugs, kisses, love, even a smile !

          Is it me or do you also get the feeling that these seem to pack more punch than the materialistic things ??

          At least no one can say they are too poor to give !
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          Jan 24 2012: If nobody receives, no one can give. They are equal.
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          Jan 24 2012: Mary, there is truth in that principle. Example: a lady I know mentors a young boy. One hour a week she gives of her time, and the rest of the day (and the rest of the week), she is so much happier.. And i receive a benefit as well, for giving her an hour of time, I receive better work from her in 7 hours than others do in a normal day. Just an example that while the actions might be equal, give/receive (like two sides of a coin) they are weighted differently. The beneficial effects of self-sacrifice are almost incalculable.
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          Jan 24 2012: Which do I enjoy more?

          It kind of depends on who I am giving to or from whom I am receiving. So in any given situation I might have a preference for giving or for receiving.

          But it averages out. So I would have to say I like both equally.

          How about you?
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        Jan 24 2012: Hi Sam,

        You disagree with my view that having children, and being a parent, is not a source of happiness.

        It is not really "my view" although I do agree with it.

        We are actually "designed" to feel euphoric when we have children. It is natural and normal that we do. (It doesn't always work though as we see with postpartum depression.)

        I think most of us are "happy" much of the time ... or maybe it is better to say we are not unhappy much of the time. And there are many things that we like.

        But, the point is, over time, there is a higher degree of likelihood we will be happier without kids than with kids.

        Does that mean you would have been happier without children?

        There is no way of knowing.

        Are you happy with them? Obviously!

        The research will not tell us what a specific individual will experience; it only tells us the likelihood of a given person experiencing this or that. And, at that level of generalization, it is more likely that kids will contribute to our unhappiness.

        My personal view is that if you are already happy, you will still be happy if you have kids. If you are not already happy, having kids won't help ... and will likely exacerbate the situation.

        And, happy or not, having children is not "fun" ... late night feedings, diapers, financial obligations, concerns for safety, and so on.

        Rewarding? It can be.

        Fun? Not so much.


        A large percentage of divorces happen within the first 18 months after the birth of a first child.
        • Jan 24 2012: Thanks for your reply. I too have seen the research saying that on average, many believe they would be happier without children. More money, less responsibility, more fun, more freedom. And that is the research, so, so be it - as you say, I am an individual rather than representative of everyone with children.

          You might have seen the TED speech, however, showing that on average, winning the lottery and losing a limb (at two opposite ends of the spectrum i.e. the happiest you can be and the least happy you can be at the time of the event) are fleeting moments of joy and despair. While we would suspect that these events would result in a permanent massive increase or decrease in happiness, people return, pretty much, to their set happiness point within 6 months of this event. We've all bought some material thing - a car, a pair of shoes, a computer - thinking that it will enhance our lives and make us happier, only to find moments, hours or days afterwards that we are no better off than we were prior to purchasing.

          In the research you refer to, the researchers cite the experience of those in their 40s and 50s and beyond with no children as being the happiest. They are well travelled, financially secure, own nice homes and cars and so on. The least happy are those that have children late in life - because they know what they are missing out on now that the kids have put an end to their lives of material success. But my guess is, the perception of lost opportunities to build material wealth (and therefore be happy) is what makes people unhappy. In reality, having that wealth probably would not have made a jot of difference to their level of happiness.
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        Jan 24 2012: Hi Sam,

        No, I am not referring to research that says people believe they would be happier without children. In fact, when asked most people say they believe they would be happier with children (or if they had had children.)

        When we "look at our lives" we see them the way we think they should be ... most of us think we should be happy with kids.

        The research I am talking about is based on asking people to report on how happy they are ... at the moment. (I don't know how the research was done but I imagine it involved random pages on a beeper of some kind, and a journal.)

        When asked to report on how happy they were feeling "in the moment" ... people self-reported one of the lowest levels of happiness when they were with their children. I believe commuting was the only thing that was rated lower than spending time with children.

        I think you are right, there is a TED talk on this ... it is also being written up in books like "Stumbling on Happiness" and others. I don't remember which book, or books, I read it in ... if I stumble across it, I'll let you know.
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          Jan 25 2012: Important to acknowledge that every ones individual experience is their very honest truth and hence legit belief. But it becomes tough to have an interaction about whether children, religion or any other external animate or inanimate object is a universal source of happiness or misery.
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        Jan 24 2012: Hey Verble, Mary, and Sam,

        I think we may be missing a point or two. The point isn't that children make us miserable (obviously that is not true ... well, most of the time.) The point is we are more likely to be happier if we do not have children.

        The research was not based on perceptions or idealism, it was based on what we actually experience. And we experience more happiness more often if we do not have kids (generally speaking) or so the research says.

        Our personal experience will not actually tell us much because we cannot have kids and not have kids at the same time. And it's probably a good thing that having kids is rewarding (imagine if it were not so.) We are not really that good at remembering how things (really) were; or anticipating how they will really be, for that matter. We're better at knowing how things are.

        So is it wonderful having kids?

        Based on our subjective experience; or notionally:

        Many, but not all, people would say yes.

        Would we be HAPPIER without kids?

        Most, but not all, of us would say no.

        The research says yes, we would be happier.

        But the research findings are generalized and will not apply to everyone. And like I said, for any given individual, the answer is not really possible to know.

        As for the giving receiving thing ... true giving and true receiving are, in my opinion, quite rare. When I open myself to either, they are both powerful experiences.
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          Jan 25 2012: Another aspect we haven't touched on is the. Distinction between happiness and joy. Happiness is a condition created by outside circumstances, but joy is a state of being. It's rather like that with parenthood. Being a parent is a joy, parenting sometimes brings happiness and sometimes just brings a giant headache. But as much as I ever want to send my kids to sleep in the back yard in the rain, I still love them and would protect them with my life.

          I think that's probably a distinction that he should bring to the main question. Why do we chase happiness? Why do we chase the illusory and temporary happiness when we could be seeking the state of being ("joy")?

          Still, though, Iapaet from this tangential exalt of children, what do we think about why we are looking for happiness?
        • W T

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          Jan 25 2012: Speaking from personal experience, I luxuriate in the silence of a home free of children, when they spend time with the grandparents. But I can say the same thing about my spouse. I love my alone time, and I need it from time to time.

          I totally agree with your statement..."We are not really that good at remembering how things (really) were;" You are absolutely right!! How do I know? I'll give you an example:

          When my husband and I moved to Miami, and we bought fresh baked bread at a bakery, I was all excited for him to try the bread. After tasting it he goes: this is terrible, the bread back home is much superior.

          Well guess what? After one year, he went back home to visit his family. And the first thing out of his mouth when he came back here and got off the plane was: "the bread back home is terrible". We both laughed very much.

          Seems like grass is always greener....but then you go over the fence and realize yours is much better.

          I'll end with this illustration: A dog holding a bone looked into a pool of water and saw another dog with a bone. Wanting the other dog's bone, he proceeded to try to grab it, and so let go of his own bone. His bone sunk to the bottom of the pool, and of course there was no second bone because he was looking at his own reflection.

          People chase what they already have......we can be happy, it is a choice.

          You can be happy with children
          You can be miserable with children
          You can be happy without children
          You can be miserable without children

          Ultimately, the choice is yours to make...Choose to be happy..

          That is my humble opinion
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          Jan 26 2012: A very valid humble opinion Mary,

          And can i also add > the same for everything else in this world !

          You can be happy as a billionaire but you could also be a miserable one !
          Happy as a poor man, but also content with no material wealth.

          I have personally experienced this and can say that, going after those things that I think will make me happy doesnt make me happy after I get them !
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    Jan 23 2012: ..keeps me going to improve situations which I in fact have the power to change the situation. But I also think that you get happier the more emotions are ok.. When I resist something, it usually persist. Happiness to you and vote for a basic income for all children of the world!

    Sincerely Bastian
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      Jan 23 2012: Bastian,
      You presented another reason why happiness seems to be elusive to us! Resistance! I totally agree...when we resist something, it usually persists. When we try to resist circumstances of our lives, it becomes an opposing or retarding force, which you insightfully recognize. I believe this force or resistance prevents us from moving forward. It keeps us from reaching our goal, which could eventually create happiness/contentment in our lives? Good for you for knowing you have the power to change things...Kudos to you:>)
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    Jan 23 2012: One reason we chase happiness is that it feels good compared to a neutral state or sadness/unhappiness.
    Just like a full stomach feels better than an empty stomach.

    From an evolutionary perspective the good feelings rewarded behaviour that enhanced survival, the drive to reproduce and to help our offspring survive - from an individual and group perspective.

    The things that give us pleasure or cause our happiness can also have negative impacts if overdone or used/pursued in ways that cause other problems. Problems may also relate to our tendency to give short term pleasure precedence over longer term rewards, and additive natures.

    Food keeps us alive - too much reduces our life span
    Recreational drugs feel good - too much depending on the drug (some may be immediately damaging or additive others less so). This includes cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine and all the illegal ones.
    Sex feels good - but there are issues.
    Adrenaline buzzes, sport etc.

    Suggest there is a continuum of risk of a downside e.g. Heroin at one extreme perhaps something like meditation at the other. Yes even meditation taken to extreme might have adverse consequences - social disengagement, starvation etc
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      Jan 23 2012: Hi G M,
      It sounds like you are advocating balance? I agree with that! To find balance in ourselves, it's important to know our "self"...yes? And to know ourself, it's important to face all the emotions? There's that cycle again!!! :>)
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        Jan 23 2012: yes agree colleen. balance and moderation. balancing present happiness with the future. self and others. serious and fun. purpose and improvement with appreciation for all we have now.
    • Jan 23 2012: Thanks GM
  • Jan 22 2012: I like to think of happiness as my spiritual scooby snack. I wouldn't get out of bed, and work all day, every day for nothing. I would break down and maybe even contemplate suicide. But I would do all those things for the chance at happiness, much like scooby doo does all those things he hates just for his scooby snack.So maybe we created happiness to improve the survival of our species. Or if your spiritual/ religious.Happiness could be that scooby snack that god lays out for you. but you must overcome and learn life lessons in order to obtain said scooby snack.And like scooby snacks, if you have too much it becomes worthless and boring. And either god shows a new snack or you're mind creates one so you have something to work for.Most animals are happy with basic necessities. If you give a dog love, affection, food and water it is almost always happy. Maybe its because its fulfilled his destiny, or maybe its because his mind never created that new scooby snack.I don't know.But to answer your question on why we don't chase other emotions, i think its because we don't have too. They come to us.Read the happiness hypothesis by john haidt. Very informative book.
  • Jan 22 2012: I think before this question can be answered, we all have our individual definitions of "happiness".
    Happiness is money or is it? Happiness is the golden rule, or is it?
    Money can make life easier, no one can dispute that. We can use money to help others and bring happiness.
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      Jan 23 2012: Good point Kathryn,
      So, do you agree with David Grammer..."that the question contains the answer"?
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    Jan 22 2012: True the majority of us chase happiness, but in the end are we happy or not is a different story, but yes we do chase happiness. The reason is we feel incomplete, there is a sense of lack.But few are 'awakened' souls who are happy, they accept the 'isness' of life, they feel contented, they do not chase happiness, they are happiness personified.
    • Jan 22 2012: :-) Thank you Asgar sahab.
  • Jan 21 2012: even if i will only be given a single day of happiness in my entire life i would still grab and live that life for it is better than just be a lifeless matter. so why do we chase happiness? i never chase it! I'm already happy being alive. happiness is everywhere just open your eyes you don't need to chase it but to feel it. every detail of your life defines happiness so open your eyes wide.
  • Jan 20 2012: Before I move into answering your questions, set your mind to the idea that you are not your emotions, they are simply a perceived tool of the mind and body. Now, each emotion you experience is for a reason, because your mind attaches a perceived situaton at hand to an emotion. As you age, you condition your mind to react with certain emotions to certain perceived situations. The reason you try not to experience some emotions as they are is because they simply do not feel good. We as humans are often times conditioned into avoiding unwanted emotions. This is where stress and anxiety are created. The reason for this, is because we are forcibly diverting the natural flow of emotions through our bodies and this causes distress. This of it as a wave in water. A perceived situation cause emotion (the wave) to move through your body. When you try to stop this emotion, you create a break wall which the wave crashes into and causes disorder (distress). Therefore, trying not to experience the emotion causes a disturbance and is ultimately the wrong approach to take. Why do we 'race' for happiness? Because happiness feels good! Happiness is our natural state, therefore, you perceive happiness as good because you are then at your most optimal state of being. It is not a new phenomena - it has been 'chased' for thousands of years in one form or another. It's humanities most prolonged illusionary race, because the truth is that happiness is already here, in you, you ARE happiness. The reason you do not see or feel this is because you taught yourself to see certain things as blockades to you state of happiness. Sometimes your mind goes out of its way to recognize obstacles that prevent you from being completely engulfed in happiness.

    Happiness is not a human need. It is a universal state of being. When you recognize the blockades you allow your mind to create you will then begin seeing that you are trying to be something you already are.
    • Jan 20 2012: Both thumbs up..for your well organised thoughts... My question(s) here is actually a statement, an experiment with truth, with the natural state of being... and why people perceive it to be an unbearable / monotonous state of being.
      Request put more details on "you are not your emotions". Lets go beyond humans and take pets, dogs to be specific. One of the main elements which defines their breed is their temperament (an emotion). Is being a fox their natural state of being? Has humans conditioned even their emotions by domesticating them? If your answer is yes, then, do humans have intrinsic habit of influencing other's emotions and not allowing others to be natural ?
  • Jan 19 2012: Manuj, Colleen, Mwenjew, I am very happy that we are participating in this conversation. I reap value from all of your inputs to this thread. Joyous Right Now. Let's all enjoy the happiness habit, even if it takes a bit of effort to establish. Seems well worth it.
  • Jan 18 2012: Chasing happiness is a fake concept. To chase it, is like chasing your shadow. It is within us awaiting our awareness to experience it first hand. Rhona and Colleen speaks of that in their notes on the subject, and it's all tied into the personal experience. That's known as an experiential perspective, not an academic one. When you heighten your awareness in daily activity, you'll see that being happy is a choice we make. Being grateful for what we have can truly make one happy - making a list of what you think makes you happy is eye-opening, e.g. when we're hungry, a good meal could serve that purpose. You will one day see that 'money' will never make you rich. It's one's ability to produce that makes having money possible. It's interesting too, to consider the difference in a 'want' and a 'need'.

    Thanks to you all for such good ideas and expressions.
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      Jan 18 2012: Hi Annie,
      I totally agree with everything you have written, and especially agree that gratitude is a big piece of the puzzle regarding sustaining happiness/contentment in our lives. There are so many things and people in our lives every day that we take for granted. When we are aware of everything and everyone in our lives, we may start to experience more happiness/contentment. I am grateful for your insightful comment:>)

      "Be happy with what you have, and you will have plenty to be happy about"
      (Irish proverb)
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    Jan 17 2012: I think we chase happiness because we believe its a positive emotion.However I think the real question is what is happiness? and how much of it do we really appreciate? The definition of happiness differs from person to person ,for example one might feel happy from simple things such as hugging a loved one or seeing a child playing in the playground,wheras for another, the term happiness might mean being successful,being beautiful,being rich etc..So the road followed in finding happiness is different for everyone .But in the end its up to us to either shorten or lenghthen that road .
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    Jan 17 2012: Well,the emotions in humans are envitable yet we experience it in a unique way which depends on the individuality & the way they respond to that.
  • Jan 17 2012: This would be a definition thing I guess....
    Don't we just call "happiness" ALL things that make us happy? I think it's in the definition of happyness that we "like to feel that way".
    If you "like" emotions such as hate and despair etc. Then for you those emotions would also be called "happyness".

    You don't go around chasing emotions you don't want to experience (like fear or anxiety).
  • Jan 17 2012: We are all addicts to pleasure fulfilling neurotransmitters. It is needed for learning and development for it provides the incentive to do them.
  • Jan 16 2012: Because happiness is the natural state of being. Circumstances of our Physical Reality keep showing us contrasting situations that we don't like, and whenever we are in balance and centered in our inner selves, connected to our higher minds, we'll be able to turn around and look for improvement, so to change that what we don't like and is making us unhappy. Be Happy!
  • Jan 16 2012: Hi guys,
    I took a break from here and tried to understand the Why. It’s good to come back and see that the question no longer belongs only to me; so many people have reflected themselves. However, since I raised it, I feel that it’s my responsibility to share what I experienced during the break from the confusion here.
    I read an article and found that there are some fundamental beliefs well explained in Buddhism:
    1. The universal regime of cause and effect.
    2. The interdependence of all phenomena (here, we can say, all emotions)
    3. There is certain dependence in origination itself, that is that which originates, changes, disappears and disintegrates.
    4. The impermanence of conditioned things and absence of inherent existence.
    5. The suffering that follows from mistaken perceptions in permanence of reality. In our lives, we have to encounter suffering caused by false apprehensions of reality and happiness.
    For the ease of understanding this knowledge and for imparting it in our daily life, we can learn to see both sides of the coin or the emotion. If we can feel joy or happiness, the same sensitivity of ours can make us feel suffering or sadness also. To accept this reality of life is perhaps the knowledge which helps us to reduce suffering and improve the quality of life. Heard it long back in school, “know pain know gain”, the gain here is in knowing the cause of the pain and allowing it to make changes in ourselves so that it disappears. The mindless pursuit of happiness, material possession, power has the risk of causing suffering. The mindful living with ethics and morality allows us to reduce the cause of suffering and makes us experience the impermanence of happiness drawn from satisfaction of ego after chasing & achieving it by some unnatural means or external sources.
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    Jan 15 2012: Maybe happiness can only be experienced against a background of sadness?

    Sadness makes happiness more profound and clear, if it is present as a contrasting state. I think it is the acceptance of sadness, as an inevitable and necessary component of a positive overall demeanour, that may be the key to the average feeling of 'happiness'.
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      Jan 15 2012: Hi Allan,
      Your comment reminds me of another insightful statement on this thread made by Sekhar Thodla:
      "In a state of happiness, there is absence of sadness. It is probably why we chase the feeling of happiness, Absence of either state is, in my view, Nirvana where you are neither happy nor sad. So what happens in such state?"

      I am in agreement with you Allan, that "sadness makes happiness more profound and clear, and it is the acceptance of sadness as an inevitable and necessary component..."

      I am also in agreement with Sekhar, that there is a place in between where we are neither happy nor sad, and this, to me, is contentment, or balance, for which one of the components is acceptance.
  • Jan 13 2012: Happiness is the reason we choose to get up in the morning. It is the emotion that makes us remember yesturday when we were younger, when life had its glorious moments, simple moments. Happiness makes life sweeter. It makes life tolerable. Give me happiness over anything else, and I will build a world for myself, a place where I can love, cry, live and even die and feel like a Man.
    • Jan 14 2012: Very well said Tiago! beautiful.
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    Jan 13 2012: Sure, I can understand how it seems that way. Haven't you been conditioned belief in those terms?
    • Jan 14 2012: Yes, i think so Amanda. Just trying to keep walking wakefully while flipping the pages of conditioning backwards to see the root.
      :-) Thanks
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        Jan 15 2012: Yes, that is a fulfilling way to learn, isn't it? =)
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    Jan 13 2012: You'd be surprised, but "happiness" is NOT a human need. According to modern human needs psychology, we have six basic human needs:

    Love & Connection

    When all of these needs are filled, it creates bliss and fulfillment, which what we really seek more than "happiness", isn't it?
    • Jan 13 2012: but It is the nature of every person to seek happiness.
    • Jan 14 2012: Neither the traditional "Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs" mentions it clearly as a need.
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      Jan 14 2012: Modern man has no need for the challenges of mystery, adversity and opportunity? Hmmm. That would explain a lot about the trend of deterioration of courage and excellence.
      • Jan 14 2012: Edward, i think it would be an excellent time if humans don't seek challenges of adversity as their "basic" need.
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          Jan 15 2012: Agreed Manuj that there are times when adversity is so unwelcome that it is unlikely to be beneficial. It is also not something that should be actively pursued. But, I cannot imagine a life completely free of adversity. QUOTE: "No man is more unhappy than the one who is never in adversity, the greatest affliction in life is never to be afflicted. (Anon.)
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        Jan 15 2012: Mystery, Adversity and Opportunity ARE needs. They fit into the category of VARIETY or UNCERTAINTY. We need to feel challenged, experience newer and diverse things. We love to be mystified, and to explore things greater than our current selves, which also fulfills our need for Growth, Contribution and Significance.

        Though adversity, opportunity and mystery don't usually create "happiness", in the sense that people think of it. They provide FULFILLMENT, and the energy, wisdom and knowledge to do more and be more. Basically, they fulfill our six basic needs.
      • Jan 17 2012: "No man is more unhappy than the one who is never in adversity, the greatest affliction in life is never to be afflicted" Thanks Edward.
  • Jan 27 2012: I'm a bit confused on what you're trying to say, as you switch from dog to fox and I lost your point there. As social creatures, we cannot help but influence each others emotions, would you agree? This not only applies to human to human connections, but also human to non-human, such as dog. I don't feel that 'habit' is the correct word here, because a habit is something that is learned, where I feel emotional influence is a natural occurrence that cannot be turned off. The reason for this is because in emotional influence you have the broadcaster and the receiver. The broadcaster may have no intention of influencing the receiver's emotional state, but it is up to the receiver to decide if they pick up on certain communication ques and allow or deny emotional influence.

    I think non-human interaction, such as a human to dog, is different because the dog has more difficulty choosing whether to allow the human to influence it emotionally or not. The dog most likely uses tonality of voice and body movement to decide an emotional response and has more difficulty ignoring certain triggers which would influence their emotional state. If you yell at a dog, it will experience negative emotions. When you yell at a human, they will have similar emotional reactions as the dog, but they can choose to move through these initial emotional reaction and can decide to simply not allow you to influence them emotionally. It's called emotional intelligence.

    I think the bottom line is that every second of your life where you are awake, you are broadcasting emotional information for other beings to received. You can choose what to broadcast, but it is not your choice on how these beings will perceive this information.
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    Jan 26 2012: Sorry I couldn't find a way to reply to our previous comments so this is a reply for Manuj who said, "There is a learning in how she copes up with her negative emotions. My intention in suggesting a different approach was to figure the root of her extreme emotions (anxiety & fear). I felt responsible and made a suggestion". Thankyou for the suggestion, I search deep for the root of my anxiety and I find it just lies within my physical body. A calm minded person whose body fails them during certain types of stress. :)
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    Jan 25 2012: Hello,

    I recommend the book "The Five Things We Cannot Change: And The Happiness We Find By Embracing Them" by David Richio.

    I agree with Mr. Richio that: Our brain is designed for 4 basic emotions: (SAFE) Sadness, Anger, Fear, Exuberance... Not only does our brain crave exuberance, it wants to avoid sadness, anger, and fear...I believe these are the needs of every creature with a central nervous system.

    Happiness is a feeling, not an emotion. Happiness comes in many different varieties and flavors, based on the quantity and intensity of the four basic emotions. A Brain is simply trying to reduce SAF, and trying to obtain E.

    Humanity will probably never know I am glad we have philosophy.
  • Jan 24 2012: I think the reason many people chase happiness is that they have not yet realized that happiness is found within. It is like the the question goes, " Two people are walking together down the street, one is enlightened and the other is not, how can you tell which is which?" Answer: One is enlightened and the other is not.
    Happiness = Contentment
    If you find you are living your life around, "I will be happy when I get this or I will be happy when we do that..." You will never find happiness because you will continue to look for that something else. Once you put a condition on something or anything for that matter it suggests something as being final and over. Happiness within is never final but is ongoing contentment with the current moment and what is right now. Living in the moment and creating happiness now (as many others have already stated) is the key in my humble opinion.
  • Jan 24 2012: Hi manuj,

    you seem to have stormed all kinds of emotion buddy...but you know people battle through the tough times only for a reason which is happiness, if was not there he would have dealt or probably lived with it is the fruit one get or simply a result...and being happy keeps your mid away from aging..

    i am too young for all this but have witnessed it a lot and am telling you out of my work life..

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    Jan 24 2012: Well, why not?
  • Jan 24 2012: Definition of HAPPINESS
    1obsolete : good fortune : prosperity
    2a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

    Happiness is different for everyone. What makes you happy may not make me happy. And many people's happiness is either an illusion, or short lasting. Happiness cannot be bought, and in many cases is hard to sustain for long periods of times. Many of our other unpleasent emotions are simply a result of our unhappiness.

    Happiness is a human need, and research conducted on babies proves this theory. Being over stressed is unhealthy, as is depression and feelings of anxiety. Everybody needs something to live for, something to look forward to, and something to be happy about.
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      Jan 26 2012: Landon,

      Definition 2 sounds more like happiness to me. i.e 2a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience

      Definition 1 tags it to materialism which may bring happiness but cannot guarantee it !
      But as you said it, happiness is different for everyone. A rich and miserable life may still bring happiness to someone
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    Jan 23 2012: Happiness create a soulful mind. We never know how to chase!!!!!! Bcoz everyone have own explanation about Happiness.
    I chase everyday but at night I see some awkward things happen in My around i just forgot today what we Got ...nothing.
    so we just spread Love around each other that is happiness. Now the best thing is happiness is always not come in form of Smile Sometime come in form of Tears if we accept this .... than we say Happiness always with us so I dont want 2 chase happiness. It is always with Me.


    Thank u for this conversation...
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      Jan 23 2012: Harsh,
      You talk about a good concept. Happiness does not always come in the form of smiles. Sometimes it comes in the form of tears as well. There are tears of joy, and tears of sadness. Do you know that it is scientifically proven that tears and laughter BOTH release healing chemicals in the body and mind?
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    Jan 23 2012: Hi Manuj.

    I think happiness is bound up in being content with your lot in life.
    I have the blessing of only workin in the mornings. After the initial shock of the alarm, I am motivated to go to work. I work with interesting people & enjoy reacting with them. My greatest regret is that they are looking forward to holidays, retirement, or anything that gets them away from work. They are chasing happiness. I like holidays as well, but to be honest, I get more fun out of working with people. That, for me, is happiness.
    We need to take a good look at life & acknowledge where happiness lies, instead of believing the stereotypes; work=bad; holidays=good. Maybe we have chased so hard after happiness that we've overshot the target !

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    Jan 22 2012: The only answer that makes sense to me is that we seek happiness because it feels good inside my body.
    • Jan 23 2012: Yes its a simple and genuine expression. I'm sure that if you dig deep here, you'll find a lot more amazing expressions.
  • Jan 22 2012: You can turn your question in one that's even more general; What is our goal in life?

    Everyone has a different opinion about that, but in general there are alot of people that do not know any good reason and therefore try to make the best out of it. People feel that if they aren't happy, their feelings mess with their minds. People want to set goals for themselfs, they want to feel that there is something to live for. Happiness is nothing more than 'feeling good'. People simply want to feel good, so they set happiness as their ultimate goal of life, simply cause they want to feel good and set a goal for themself.
    • Jan 23 2012: The purpose of one's existence is a far bigger question. The purpose of this lesser question is to first touch base with self without being intoxicated by "happiness" or drowned by "unhappiness". Then, perhaps, one can begin to think at peace that if everything (including the body) belongs to the existence then who am i & why am i here, find and get on with it.
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    Jan 22 2012: My pleasure
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    Jan 22 2012: I agree abruptly that most of us chase happiness; the reason lies in being granted a blue chip of having the opportunity to smile.It's like a puzzle game: everybody goes on searching for the most suitable and fitting portion in order to complete the riddle and achieve his own need (of happiness).
    To wrap it up, yes, happiness "always been sought" ,and it's a right for every human to search it. whether being contend with the less or more gain. (depends on the person)
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    Jan 22 2012: Yes it is a human need.

    Even better, it is a living need.

    Plants are growing toward the light, because the light provides warmth and warmth is translate in happiness.
    Animals are eating because the chemical reaction provides happiness, same goes for every living thing. Reproduction provides happiness and its a vital need for the living.
    • Jan 22 2012: True. Thanks.
      But, plants experience all seasons as they come and go. Without craving to keep themselves green/fruitful/flowery all the time. Do you think that all seasons are essential processes ?
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        Jan 22 2012: Not all plants survive winter. There are tons of different eco-systems throughout the globe, but all plants grow toward the light, seasons are essential in a sense, they bring a cyclic pattern in which all life-form respond according to the season and it sustains a form of natural balance.

        The ability to feel pain and suffering is as essential as the ability to feel joy and happiness, one protects you from dangers through fear and the other rewards you through love. These two basic feeling (Fear and Love) are essential to maintain an equilibrium in nature.

        If "everything" would feel good and bring happiness, people would start dying from drought because the stomach "pain" would bring contentment instead of pain. So pain is essential but so is happiness. If "everything" would bring suffering, people wouldn't eat food because it would feel bad and the same would happen.

        So they are both essential in nature. So perhaps the plants, during the winter, feel pain only so they can enjoy a little more the summer season, that is to say, in the regions where there is a winter season. They might feel pain during the winter but they won't face a drought ever, each region has it's advantages and it's inconvenients.
        • Jan 23 2012: Nice.
          "ability to feel joy and happiness"
  • Jan 21 2012: We chase happiness because the alternative is worse. That is what we do as we go through life, we compare with what we know and set goals with priorities as we think appropriate.

    Truth is only what we perceive to be so (what we think we know), thus can easily be mistaken for untruth when conversing with one another and then escalate.
    I find communication much easier when by default assuming the other person is trying to speak the truth. Although our competitive/imago driven economy really motivates us to do otherwise. Being critical is a skill you can't do without.

    I Agree with [Rhona Pavis]:
    "We have the power to cause happiness in others and in ourselves. We can use those powers and freedoms we currently possess to generate happiness for ourselves and others.".

    In fact we already partially do this today. We just need to get rid of competition and scale things up to world proportions instead of fighting amongst each other for happiness through all kinds of groups. Like countries, companies, families, etc. Which themselves are examples of cooperating entities. Yet the end result is currently negative compared to what could be if all these "small" groups were to not compete but cooperate.

    We got to get rid of these old (trusted) ideas and behaviours. Changes in behaviour come from our environment, which includes ourselves. Meaning it can be done through others.
    If we understand this and then set goals with priorities in alignment with what we know of reality per time, I think we would create a happy future for all.
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    Jan 21 2012: Eduardo Martinez,
    Do you ever review what you are writing and posting on this and other TED sites? Here, you say there is no such thing as self, then you go on to explain exactly what "self" is. You say there is no such thing as honesty, then go on to explain what honesty is. It appears that you like writing a lot of words, and it might be beneficial to connect the words in a way that makes sense to you and others?
  • Jan 20 2012: On a simpler note, I think emotions are like flavors, some are bitter, and some are sweet. Now it's hard for us to try to understand how we can get a sense of peace from anger, sadness or even fear, because these emotions have a bitter taste. So we instead go towards the sweeter flavor because its easier to get a sense of appreciation and peace. So the issue is finding the key to unlock the sense of peace in the bitter flavors. Sadness might be the easiest in the bitter spectrum to get a sense of peace, by just realizing that what you are feeling is needed for yourself to learn and evolve. I guess that way of thinking can work for all of the bitter flavors but it just gets a little tougher to swallow the farther down the bitter spectrum you go.
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    Jan 20 2012: We chase happiness because the human hamster on the wheel of life needs to look at a moving picture to stay entertained--whilst it slowly wastes away on the tedious human hamster wheel. Happiness, as "a destination", and not a "way to travel" has been fabricated by the mass media. One would do well to watch a documentary called "Sin Nombre". It is no mistake that when people are asked 'what is happiness' they answer: a secluded beach in an island in the Caribbean. To these sad individuals, happiness is--quite literally--a destination. Corporations like Kayak and Hotwire depend on people believing in (and buying into) the false narrative of happiness in the form of a destination. Other enterprising individuals would venture to answer that happiness to them comes in the form of power and prominence--a position as a CEO, perhaps. This brand of individuals seek happiness by way of material fulfillment, and conspicuous consumerism. "Quasi obligatory social ceremonies" like Christmas condition the young to correlate "feeling good/happiness" with receiving material goods. The culture/cult of acquisitiveness is clearly visible in the United States. For instance, after 'sacred' thanksgiving, the populace is incentivized by "blowout sales" into a buying frenzy where the wolves ferociously feast "cheap" products that have been produced in sweatshops. And the list goes on and on.
  • Jan 20 2012: There is a fundamental flaw with your question. The true question might be, why do we choose to stay in the addicton of disliking ourselves instead of choosing peace and happiness. The choice for true happiness only comes after the choice for honesty which is the essential building block of peace and real understanding.
    Happiness is based in perception which can be fatally flawed. So really, people are racing for their perception of happiness, not true happiness which only can arise from peace of mind.
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      Jan 20 2012: The self is also based on perception. "Peace of mind" suggests that one can reach some sort of idyllic cerebral equilibrium--of which there is no such thing. And "true happiness" is an essentialization of sorts, which in turn prepossesses some sort of metaphysical hierarchical structure--which, of course, is also nonsensical. Positing that a meta-reality of "true things" exists outside of existence is merely pontification.
      • Jan 20 2012: That is the truth of the human experience, to finally realize cerebral equilibrium, if only for a moment in time. Each of these moments (of which we have all had at least one) acts as the ripple that spreads to the rest. Without hierarchy but with an equality between all. Pontification only exists if we recognize the idea of it or put power to the word.
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          Jan 20 2012: I agree with you in respect to the valuation of abstract concepts, they only exist insofar as people "empower" or infuse said concept with meaning. However, the issue of hierarchy cannot be ignored, "true happiness" can be construed as an amplification of "happiness". Generally speaking, this sort of rhetoric blatantly engenders a hierarchical methodology. The dialectic is then turned into a distorted discussion on the intangible (and wholly arbitrary) notion of a gradient scale of emotional states (i.e. sadness, 'true' sadness, happiness, 'true' happiness, etc.). Instead of imprudently attempting to superimpose an arbitrary hierarchical structure on the nature of human emotional states, we should just look at the mind as an amalgamation of neurophysiological processes. The mind is a fancy computer with high end software, and this is the direction the cognitive sciences are taking us in. Deal with it, we are all just biologically based robots.
      • Jan 20 2012: Love it! If the robot is processing peace then all is great in that robots world :-)
  • Jan 20 2012: Colleen, i too have maxed out thumbs up for you.
    "When we give it a name, it remains "attached" with us, stored in the memory cells, we think we "know", and we become limited by what we "think" we know. Many people prefer this way of functioning...label, think they "know", and limit him/her "self" to ONLY that information.

    In my perception, calm/nothingness leaves me open to new information, possibilities and discoveries. It's always a choice:>)" ....we think alike. Right now, i am observing this happy feeling of having like minded people around. I think people aligned with the law of nature are bound to think alike. Cheers buddy !
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    Jan 19 2012: Happiness is a state of well-being that is characterized by relative permanence, by emotion ranging from mere contentment to deep and intense joy in living, and by a natural desire for it to continue. . It thus differs from mere pleasure, which may come about simply through chance contact and stimulation.

    The chasing or pursuit of happiness has been going on for a long time.THE United States Declaration of Independence proclaims the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ For many today, the key word is pursuit. They do it avidly, filling every minute with frenzied activity. Anything and everything to avoid unfilled spaces where they might have to sit quietly and face themselves—and boredom. This frenetic pursuit of happiness, however, never catches up to genuine happiness

    Some pursue new life-styles in their happiness quest. Many others equate happiness with material possessions, but their accumulation only heightens an acquisitive itch that craves ever more scratching.

    Science swells the materialistic flood, as biologist René Dubos complained: “All too often, science is now being used for technological applications that have nothing to do with human needs and aim only at creating new artificial wants.

    If our feelings of self-worth are nurtured only by external possessions rather than internal values, those feelings soon become anemic and leave us prey to a gnawing discontent. Materialism with its superficial trappings does nothing to satisfy the deep inner needs of the human spirit, and it will never lead to happiness. “Unrestricted satisfaction of all desires,” psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said, “is not conducive to well-being, nor is it the way to happiness or even to maximum pleasure.

    Why do we chase happiness? In my opinion, based on the above, it probably has something to do with the lack of understanding of what our self-worth is, in addition to not satisfying the deep inner needs of the human spirit.
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    Jan 19 2012: The misconception about happiness is that it is synonymous with contentment.
    • Jan 19 2012: yes i guess so, contentment is like a plateau or a valley, the happiness however is a peak.
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        Jan 23 2012: Contentment is naturally maintained altitude of the spirit -via sustained positive mental attitude. It only appears like a plateau (to the outsider). It is not a "valley". lol Manuj:)
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          Jan 23 2012: I agree Juliette...contentment is a maintained attitude...altitude:>)
        • Jan 23 2012: Superb ! Thanks Juliette, for making me think actually is a naturally maintained altitude which appears like a plateau to an outsider....valley is a wrong are right..

          And Colleen has put a cherry on top of it by ...maintained "attitude"
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    Jan 18 2012: We chase happiness because it is part of our core, we are transcendent beings that are not easily satisfied, we are constantly looking for something that fills us. I think that happiness is not a state we can achieve, we can only be happy if we refocus our perception of what happiness really is, we should limit it to the here and now, to what makes me happy today and conquer that instead of expecting one event in the future to guarantee our sole happiness.
  • Jan 18 2012: Happiness is relative. I can be happier than you. But we are still both happy.

    We can both experience exactly the same thing. Say a small win on a lottery - £500 / $750 etc - yet one of us (probably the poorer one) is likely to feel happier than the other.

    Happiness is a continuum going from very unhappy at one end, through to ecstatic on the other. We clearly all wish to avoid the unhappy side of the spectrum. Even those who choose poverty, self-flaggelation, and other seemingly unhappiness-inducing activities seem to do so because they believe it will bring them reward in the longer term (usually after death) and this thought makes them happy. But not everyone seems to want to reach the ecstatic part of the spectrum. Many seem content to be merely content.

    The other thing about happiness is that you can not achieve it and then tread water. What makes you happy changes all the time. Yesterday a nice piece of cake made you happy - but today it will need a larger piece, perhaps with a cherry on top, to create the same level of happiness.
  • Jan 18 2012: Actually we are not chasing happiness but it is a state of mind that we sought after.... its a perception altogether which makes us feel good.. it may be momentary or long-lasting depending on what we go after. Sometimes it might just be a smile of a kid passing by... a satisfying meal.. a pat on shoulder... a sales deal ... anything that makes u feel light :-). We chase it as it gives you a feeler of being alive.....
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    Jan 18 2012: Because Sadness sucks.
  • Jan 18 2012: true...thanks
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    Jan 17 2012: It beats the pants off misery. Maybe it has something to do with 600 million years of biological survival. I'm pretty sure that's why we have a nervous system. For some silly reason, most spiritual belief systems reward self-willed suffering with the experience of an epiphany, which leads me to consider spiritualism to be sadistic and heaven/nirvana filled with submissive agreeable slaves. If I were a tyrant, I'd want my subjects to be ambivalent towards happiness. I could chain them to their machines and they'd go "whatever...".
  • Jan 17 2012: Simple and true. Thanks.
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    Jan 16 2012: Because happiness feels good, and people like to feel good.
  • Jan 16 2012: Indeed, we human beings are in need of happiness, if not , we will not devote ourselves even the whole lifetime to chase happiness. Noone wants to lie in grief.
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    Jan 15 2012: I was intending to infer that transcendence of the human condition is required to realise a deeper sense of Spiritual Reality. Of course as you mention, we can all enjoy deep happiness at various stages of our lives as humans and as I point out , happiness is within, I also think that according to the meaning of the word, happiness - per-hap as per chance implies that happiness comes to us as a result of.........

    Thanks for your comments.

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    Jan 15 2012: happiness is not what everyone seeks,its what everyone prefers.We do not prefer sadness because we do not want to experience the feel of sadness.its our mindset,of every human.And it is not even human need,it is the way that we choose to live in this complicated world.
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    Jan 14 2012: We all know folks who chase unhappiness.... who can find a problem with every sunny day... who can see flaws in everyone.... who are always miserable.

    Actions speak louder than words. When folks like this say they want to be happy, I just snort derisively. "Sure!"
  • Jan 13 2012: I am alive! And I am happy for it... Please give me some more.
    • Jan 14 2012: some more what ? Life ? Ok... Have some more...:-) kidding...have a lot of it.
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    Jan 13 2012: I got to a little conclusion that it is useful for the nature that people would be as happy as possible, because that leads to a healthy psychological state of mind and healthy body; besides, healthy-minded and bodied people are more likely to raise healthy child and give her/him a needful direction to reach her/his happiness and bring up a new happy child.
    So,to me, the happiness is a natural goal for people.