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The Problem With Happiness (athenaeumreview.org)
140 points by hoffmannesque 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 156 comments



As I get older what calms me isn't what you'd normally call happiness. And although I do things that you'd normally call "making me happy" like eating a nice meal or seeing friends, the thing that is most calming is the sense that everything seems to have some sort of perspective that can be invoked.

Once you've come across enough life events, along with perspectives like the one in the article, you tend to feel a degree of autonomy about how you see things. You can focus on the (really) big picture of things, where you're an insignificant short-lived ball of carbon and water, or you can warm yourself on the details of why it is you think little babies are cute.

There's also a sense that nothing is really new anymore. Whatever someone throws at me, I can fit it somewhere in my worldview. Part of that is reading a lot of stuff such as HN, part of it is meeting a lot of people can getting their view.


The older you get, your "highs" are never as high as in the past, but your "lows" are also never as low. You'll never be as happy or excited as you were during your first christmas. But you'll never be as disappointed as you were when you didn't get what you wanted. You'll never be as happy or excited as you were on your first or the first few dates. But you'll never be as disappointed as you were when you were first rejected or had your first breakup. Christmas and dates, like life itself, becomes transactional. The great joys and disappointments are gone. At some point society beats you down, you gain experience and life goes on autopilot. You've pretty much seen it all and done it all and there isn't any more "magic" or disappointments.

And I agree that "nothing is really new anymore".

Nihil sub sole novum.


This is a very sad perspective. You have thousands of years of art, history, media, culture to dive into. There are more hobbies out there than you could ever even attempt in your lifetime. There are more regions of the world than you could ever visit, more hikes than you could ever hike. Every day, artists all over the world make entirely new creations the world has never seen before - and there'll be even more tomorrow.

Having your life on autopilot is a choice you make.


I sold my startup stake and found out that "nothing is really new anymore" couldn't be further from the truth. Not even any big amount of money. The time I gained helped me more than the money.


Was the stake enough to never work again (if you chose)? If so, how do you conceive of the rest of your life?


Not in my country but yes in Thailand etc.

I moved to the frontier of technological development and intend to stay here for the foreseeable future. What I think about now is pushing technological boundaries, not fulfilling my personal monetary needs.


Could you expand on this?


Go backpack for a year or two to Ukraine and Russia, it's fun and you'll see things you've never even imagined

If you have family, going around in a converted van/bus is a very fun thing to do with endless possibilities


How much time did you get? How has that experience changed you today?


I completely understand. My younger years were packed full of pretty intense experiences - D1 athletics, the military, building and selling a startup, building and test flying an experimental aircraft, etc, and not much feels new anymore, even though I'm relatively young.

I used to teach skydiving and watching the student's excitement during the first several jumps always brought back strong memories the initial joy. It was like reliving my first jumps.

I wonder if raising kids - sharing life experiences with a young person - has the effect of reliving the initial experience.


I have kids and no doubt they have reinvigorated the journey of life. Watching them grow and learn and experience things for the first time brings back that taste of life that grows stale with age.

But before you have kids, it is more important to find a committed partner. There is nothing that will wreak havoc more on your life than a broken family. If you ever hear a parent regret having kids, you can bet there was trouble with their partner.


Wow, this is crazy -- I didn't realize others experience this as well.

I feel this way about many things in my life that I used to care about that now seem insignificant due to that "big picture" feeling, e.g., all of social media; but if I focus I can enjoy the "little details" when, for example, my SO shares a meme. Also accompanies is that nothing is new, everything is a repost, etc.

It's a weird new sensation for me that I'm still learning to deal with, especially with regards to enjoying previously enjoyable activities. Or do I just drop them and search for better endeavours?


Do activities stop being enjoyable? I suppose in a way, but normally I still get something out of having a little slice. I won't be immersing myself in another MMO like WoW though. The grind is in fact a grind that needs to be seen in a larger perspective.


I loved immersing myself in fantasy worlds, both literary and gaming, and gained immense enjoyment from doing so; but since I've had this "realization" I really can't care about lore outside of the main storyline and my enjoyment from such activities has considerably reduced. Not sure if that's entirely a loss though, as I now would rather focus on something that provides a more direct improvement to my quality of life in the future rather than fantasy trivia.


Do the last bit, but also consider working in some cannabis.


Definitely helps. But not so much when you're hitting it all day... Any resources to help bring consumption under control, i.e. maybe to a few times a week?


> There's also a sense that nothing is really new anymore. Whatever someone throws at me, I can fit it somewhere in my worldview.

I find this hard to believe. Are you not surprised by traveling? Art? dmt experiences?


No the OP but I'm no longer surprised by art, traveling or drugs. At some point you see the same broad patterns repeated over and over. I can't get excited about another speakeasy, temple or museum. I can enjoy them but they don't feel "new". Art is the same way, something meant to be "shocking"? Doesn't feel that way to me, just feels cliche. Abstract, realism... I've seen it all before. It doesn't mean I don't appreciate it, again it just doesn't feel new.

Drugs are probably the first thing on the list that get old fast.

Even things I really love, like eating authentic food from different countries, while highly enjoyable, isn't shocking or new the way it was when I first had exposure to different food in general.


Would a strong psychedelic experience not take you to a different realm of thought? I'm curious why you say it gets old fast, most psychedelics aren't habit forming.


In my experience you can only visit that realm so many times before it ceases to offer new insights.


Fair, how many times has that been for you? I'll make sure to stay well under :)


Does life get really boring for you, then?


Not at all. I'd say one of the reasons these things don't seem new and exciting is because as you age, you acquire things that feel much more important than new experiences for the sake of new experiences. Having a family for instance will give you near continuous new experiences at an intensity level you basically can't match outside of that situation.

It's also interesting and exciting to continue to get better at things I love (programming, hobbies...).


Heh, I'm only 31 and I feel like there's nothing really new.

Is there stuff I don't know/haven't experienced? Sure. But it's been a few years since the last time I encountered something truly mind-blowing or perspective-changing. Maybe I'll try mushrooms some day.

It's just a function of the internet really, most things that once upon a time seemed like exotic, alternate paths have been de-mystified. For example, after seeing how kung-fu holds up against MMA and BJJ, I no longer have the perception of kung-fu masters as great, master fighters.

Similarly, turns out the classical Spartans arguably weren't nearly as elite as their common reputation. They were just one of the few Greek factions that bothered to regularly train at all, and that often put them over the top.

The information required to formulate both points with any support is only possible because of the internet, where in previous years a historical lay-person like myself would likely have to spend months in the library in dedicated historical studies to arrive at the same conclusions.

The more I look at the world, the more I think the Taoists got it right. "The Great Path is simple and direct yet people love to take the side-routes"



I have no idea what you’re trying to say with this video - which is Floyd Mayweather (a boxer) clowning Tenshin Nasukawa (a Kickboxer) in a boxing match. Nothing to do with MMA (or for that matter, Kung fu).


dmt? Not sure what that's short for.

While travelling does show me stuff I haven't seen, that doesn't mean it significantly alters what I thought about the place I'm visiting. Or the world in the larger sense. Sometimes there's a slight surprise in how I expected things to be vs how they are, but those tend to be degrees of difference rather than requiring a large revision.

Art, it's such a huge field. I try to get a context when I see something, but I haven't spent my time learning a lot about art history. But generally I'm not surprised when I see some work of art.

One thing to think about is whether being able to fit everything nicely is itself a symptom of a problem. Hard to know.


DMT is a psychedelics drug.


I've tried a few drugs too, I really don't see what it added to my life. Especially in exchange for the risk, who knows what could have happened to me?

It's one of those things you try because people around you are trying. But basically, I felt nothing from smoking joints or mushrooms. I had one fun experience once in Amsterdam with some hash cookies, but could I live without it? Yeah.

I feel much the same about alcohol. That at least has a common cultural set of expectations, but at the same time, I didn't think it really changed much about what I thought about the world.


"I felt nothing from smoking joints or mushrooms."

It's quite common not to have any effect from the first few times one tries smoking marijuana. Eventually, the body seems to "learn" how to appreciate the high.

As for mushrooms, if you felt nothing from them I wonder if: 1 - your dose was too low, or 2 - the mushrooms you had weren't psychoactive.

Believe me, if you've tried a high dose of a real psychedelic drug, it would be a very intense experience (assuming you remembered it, as some people do have amnesia from too high a dose of psychedelics, possibly because the experience is too intense for their conscious mind to assimilate).


"I felt nothing" is perhaps the wrong expression. One time I had my vision strobing (as in I could turn my head and the picture in my mind would be like several images rather than a video) and ended walking around a music festival camping ground for hours.

What I meant was the experience did not really add much to how I thought about the world. I didn't have particularly meaningful conversations with anyone during that time. It didn't add perspective, which is kinda what I thought would happen.


Sorry to suggest that, but from your last few posts I feel that perhaps you may have a hidden depression?


I wouldn't consider a music festival the right setting for introspection


You didn't do enough/were in the right setting.


I agree. It sounds like lordnacho got a weak dose.

It should be kept in mind, however, is that people's sensitivity to various drugs varies. So what might be a weak dose to one person might be a strong dose to another.


> I find this hard to believe. Are you not surprised by traveling? Art? dmt experiences?

Those are the lightweights, largely because they are also manufactured experiences:

- Traveling: Whoa, in that other country, people are speaking a different language, have different customs, and have different values? Who could have known!

- Art: Sure, art can evoke some feelings, but rarely is it earthshattering

- Drugs: Okay, that I don't know - and don't care for

The bigger things are other life events, like change in relationships, change in worklife, moving places, friends and family getting ill or worse. Sure, those will never be easy, but the more you go through them the better you know that "this too shall pass" and how to deal with it.


I believe you are accidentally describing equanimity. Which I think it would be a much better function to optimize for than happiness, at any scale.

The article has some interesting points but I believe it lacks a reflection from the eastern point of view and a critique to capitalism as it does for socialism.

Without them the discussion seems incomplete.


You're right, he takes off from some observations about the Soviet union. Perhaps the main issue with that is pretty much everyone thought that was a terrible system and thus we are prepared to accept the viewpoint about happiness that he presents.

Free markets, as I prefer to call it, are different. There's a fair case that a lot of good has come from it, along with not so good things. Thus to present the case from a free markets point of view would require a fair bit more explanation:

- Why is it that you're not more happy being able to choose from 10 varieties of toothpaste than when you just buy the one that is there?

- People who work minimum wage jobs, why are they not happy there was at least that? They's be starving otherwise, right? Why aren't they all grateful?

- What is it about extreme specialization that's so unsatisfying? Even Adam Smith touched on this IIRC.

> I believe you are accidentally describing equanimity

Think I learned a new word today!


Thanks!

Honestly when I read this I was not expecting it to touch politics and how societies organize themselves. My point is not that capitalism is bad for happiness, is that I don't think politics are that relevant in the discussion.

Happiness is almost always defined as the opposite to something else. As a solution for a problem. Socialism and Free markets and many other structures provide slightly different manners to enable those solutions. This is what your average zen monk would perhaps call duality.

But being happy is fundamentally a game where the only winning move is not to play. Equanimity, as acceptance of the present is a much more sustainable approach to use a more common language.

If we want to talk about which system would favour this better, well, I honestly don't know. I feel this is much more deeper matter of education, philosophy and appreciation for life. Freedom of speech is probably better for it but I'm not sure it makes a significant difference and we will not be able to measure it.

Socialism might remove the struggle of life and therefore the meaning of it. Free markets fosters artificial struggles and distractions to life, making meaning artificial. You could then argue that all meaning is ultimately artificial, which I would probably agree, but I don't see how it makes it better.

Ultimately, I don't think the solution is in the society. It must be the individual, only he/she/it transcends. Any transmission of that happens via direct experience, or a lot of books and introspection, not abstract models that you can teach easily. I have no idea how to do this at scale, I suspect it is not possible.

But the closest ideal would probably be to just teach and discuss philosophy across the world for the genuine interest of leading a better life and not to project status.


The way I see the internet evolving puts things in-check for me. It add to the negative balance of my happiness.


Happiness and unhappiness are like the day and the night. Both are needed to differentiate between light and dark (you wouldn't know if you're happy unless you also had a sound contact with unhappiness). But life itself is not about happiness: life doesn't particularly care about happiness. Life goes through waves of happiness and unhappiness, over and over again, as it makes progress of its own. Being happy or not merely colors life.

And herein you come into the play yourself: if you want to be happy you'll have to recognise the happy waves and immerse yourself in them for they will pass shortly. Some people only feel the unhappy waves as they don't recognize the happy ones. Other people look for happiness themselves and never find it as it's a matter of knowing how to receive and seize happiness whenever it's there. You could say happiness is a state of mind which is on the right path but there are times you can't get happy by tricking your mind into it. You do have to have the right state of mind to first wait and then seize happiness when it next hits your life.

Happiness is like scooping buckets of water from sea waves. You can only do it when the wave is at its highest phase, you have to be prepared and you have to be in the moment because you ca no longer do it once the wave has passed.


What a wonderful view and explanation. Thank you.

It's hard to let go realizing we are not in control. It's also really hard to be present enough to enjoy things fully or detach ourselves from suffering during the bad times. But it's definitely worth a try.


No, happiness is the result of making others happy. Unhappiness is the same thing but for when you treat people badly. A person riding waves of happiness and unhappiness is doing so because they do not understand this fundamental reality of human existence and have not learned how to treat others accordingly.

We alone have free will and the Law of Karma (reaping what we sow in others) is the universe's feedback mechanism to nudge us away from animalistic competition at the expense of others and towards humanitarian cooperation for the benefit of one and all, no matter what their superficial differences.

To become consumed with universal compassion for all others and therefore be committed to helping create happiness in all those around us is to have become the owner of a deep abiding peace and happiness that cannot be shaken irrespective of external circumstances.

Becoming consumed by active, selfless love for all others is the zenith of human self-evolution and is the ultimate meaning of life. That so few understand this absolute truth is precisely why so many suffer and those who gain riches are left so very empty.


>No, happiness is the result of making others happy.

If only it was that easy. There are very self-content (happy) people who make others miserable.


There are, in fact, sadistic people who are only happy if they are torturing someone for no reason other than their own personal gratification.


Which is the opposite of a "deep, abiding peace", would think it's more like a hole that can never be filled.. one might even call it a deep, abiding suffering from which people seek temporary refuge by hurting others.


More like "No true scotsman": e.g. "yeah, but those people are not truly happy", etc.

Well, I say they are truly happy, doing the thing they enjoy most inflicting pain.


Oh, so you say that. That's different, then, that totally negates anything I ever witnessed.

> doing the thing they enjoy most inflicting pain

I'm not going to insult your intelligence by listing known sadists and sociopaths with childhood trauma or brain damage -- from serial killers to Hitler, you name 'em... but do you know of examples where no damage could be found? I haven't even heard of that once, nowhere in pyschological literature. And all the truly happy people I've known have been kind. All the cruel people I've known are weak and never really at ease. Your "I say" isn't even a "in my experience", you can't even commit that much.

> I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong.

-- Leo Rosten

This matches my experience. It's not the argument, it's the summary of it.


Good people also suffer.

Saints were usually not contented people. Quite the opposite. Everything I have ever read indicates they felt tormented by things like sexually explicit dreams. To be canonized and officially become a saint, you have to be a martyr, iirc.

There are people who get tortured by life and "do the right thing" -- do things the world admires as selfless, morally righteous etc. And then there are people who get tortured and decide to hurt others and blame it on what happened to them.

Some people simply are born without a conscience or sense of empathy, etc. Sometimes, they are raised by people able to help them understand that behaving badly will eventually come back to bite you and they manage to be decent people.

Sometimes they aren't.

I have raised two special needs children. I've read up on brain differences and other pertinent things. I have a child who has no innate sense of empathy or a conscience, etc. I was able to help him understand "What goes around, comes around. So if you want good people in your life long term, you need to treat them right."

In part because of that background, I have a tendency to attract young people who are wired differently. It has gotten me repeatedly burned. Being kind because they have a sob story has not helped these people become better people. They took advantage of my kindness and generosity. They had no plans whatsoever to treat me well because I had been good to them.

I also have a sob story. Most of the world has zero sympathy. It doesn't get me the kind of support these users have managed to get.

I don't fully understand that. Presumably, it's at least in part because I'm not enough of a user to run around playing the victim card.

I've also known people from cushy backgrounds who, by all accounts, have never seriously suffered in life. Instead of being kind, compassionate and loving people, they were selfish, lazy, impatient, thought everything should go their way with minimal effort on their part etc because that's how their life had always worked.

Good people are often people who have suffered terribly and took that as a lesson in having compassion for others. They aren't necessarily contented people. They aren't necessarily happy.

Plenty of people feel perfectly happy with treating other people badly and either justifying it as "Well, I was hurt first" or they simply expect it as their due in life.

I've known some really good people. I've also known at least one genuine sadist who intentionally fucked me over for shits and grins after I was incredibly kind, supportive and generous to them.

But I'm sure you don't actually want to debate this or talk about facts. Your mind is made up and will not be changed.

My mind was changed by first-hand experience with people who did not want to change. They enjoyed being cruel and had endless justifications for why they couldn't afford to change. But when push came to shove, the real reason is they don't want to change. They enjoy hurting other people and taking advantage of others helps provide them a much more materially comfortable life than I have ever had. And their comfort and personal pleasure is the only thing they care about.

Have a nice day. I don't intend to discuss this further with you.


You're not responding to anything I actually said, any view I hold, you are solely talking about what you incorrectly extrapolated from what I did say, and you don't even try to show how it would follow from what I said. You didn't even begin to discuss anything in earnest.


There are people who are incredibly shitty people with zero remorse who genuinely enjoy hurting others. They seem to count on people believing that they are miserable, they have a sob story, they need compassion and understanding because huge sob story etc while they intentionally and on purpose shit all over everyone around them.

They love it when people promote the kind of dumb ideas you are promoting because it helps them get away with figurative and possibly literal murder indefinitely.

At no point will they ever actually have any compassion for anyone else. They talk a lot about the importance of caring in order to manipulate fools into catering to their whims. They absolutely don't care about anyone at all except themselves, not for a single nanosecond. Their claims that they care are all entirely fabricated BS. They laugh up their sleeve that anyone believes this shit from them.

Promoting the idea that such people aren't truly happy is both clueless and enabling. It helps them keep victimizing everyone they interact with without negative consequences while they play the victim card, pretend to not know how to behave better due to an unfortunate childhood etc ad nauseum ad infinity.


Where does a lack of empathy or an inability to feel empathy come from? Oh, they're just "incredibly shitty" and that's that.

> Promoting the idea that such people aren't truly happy is both clueless and enabling.

You extrapolate so much from that. I also think Hitler wasn't truly happy, that doesn't mean I have more sympathy for him than for his victims. But I also wouldn't be shamed into unseeing what I see.

The adjective "clueless" doesn't move me at all, show, don't tell.

> It helps them keep victimizing everyone they interact with without negative consequences while they play the victim card

No, the victim card is what enables that. That they're deeply unhappy and getting a temporary fix by abusing others because at the core of their person is a howling, empty landscape, an abyss -- which, armchair simplification or not, is what I am talking about -- doesn't even come up.


That hole can be filled as long as they keep doing it.


That is not happiness; that is sadistic pleasure.


Only if you define happiness in your own unique way to make your point a tautology.

If they are content and happy with their lives, and enjoy what they do (inflicting pain), then for all its worth, it is happiness.


There is a difference between happiness and pleasure and happiness requires no unhappiness to result in others. The only way a sadist can earn happiness is if they are only dealing with masochists and everyone is getting precisely what they want. But masochists do not want misery, they just enjoy the pain, which is as different from misery as happiness is from pleasure, though they may coincide.


That's a "no true scotchman".

Happiness is simply being happy (or, if you want, content and enjoying yourself).

If you do that by inflicting unhappiness, or by depriving others of things, etc, it's still happiness.

There's no part of the happiness definition that says it's incompatible to with "unhappiness to result in others". That might be part of Bhudism or Christianity etc, but it's not some given of human nature.


One can't be a Scotsman if one's ancestors don't come from Scotland.

There are things that are true because they fit the proper description and there are people who use "No True Scotsman" because they don't want to learn the truth.


These are synonyms to some.


People are free to misunderstand anything they choose, but words have meanings and reality can be accurately described using words with specific meanings.

[Editing because I can't reply for a while]: The dictionary writers are not the definitive masters of knowledge. What I am teaching here is (obviously) not only unknown to most people but actively denied by most.

Happiness is an internal upwelling of feeling. Pleasure is a physical sensation. They are not the same. That is why a person can be unhappy but still experience pleasure and why a person with poor life circumstances can still be happy.


Alright then, let's go see what the dictionnary has to say.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happiness

Happiness: a) a state of well-being and contentment b) a pleasurable or satisfying experience

No where does it say that it comes from making others happy(which again, this is in itself illogical). Also, you claim many times that "sadistic pleasure" isn't happiness, but that clearly contradicts the second definition of happiness. You are free to misunderstand happiness as much as you like, but happiness has a meaning and trying to force definitions from your own universe down other people's throat and denying other's doesn't seem like the right thing to do.


>People are free to misunderstand anything they choose, but words have meanings and reality can be accurately described using words with specific meanings.

Words have commonly understood and dictionary meanings.

Not some meanings you or some other person with a strong opinion gives them.

And the standard meaning of happiness doesn't include "not inflicting pain to others" as a requisite.

>Happiness is an internal upwelling of feeling. Pleasure is a physical sensation. They are not the same.

That's just pseudo-profound hocus pocus.

In fact the nuance goes even deeper: if you think you have the upper moral superiority, you could even think you do good, and are totally justified to feel happy, while inflicting untold pain on others (e.g. if you're a Nazi supporter hunting Jews, which you think betters mankinds).

So, it's not just that you can be happy inflicting pain because you're sadist and enjoy it, but also because you think you do something very good and laudable by inflicting said pain!

And, a third possibility, is that you could very happy with "an internal upwelling of feeling" because you got what you want, and your personal life and relationships go great, while still inflicting tremendous pain, if it's to people you don't even care about, and never spend a moment thinking about them (e.g. you're a rich person with a perfect family life whose riches depend on your minions exploiting lower classes which you never personally meet, and could not care less about).

How's that for nuance?


>> How's that for nuance?

You are too stupid to know how stupid you are.

Is that you, McArthur Wheeler? Dunning & Kruger send their appreciation for inspiring their groundbreaking work.


So this is what you ultimately resorted to? Pettiness? Way to make your stance look even worse.


Dunning & Kruger's work is far from petty; I merely gave him a dose of his own "How's that for nuance" attitude. He is wrong and his confidence is perfectely explained by D&K's groundbreaking work.


I stated you resorted to pettiness. Nothing to do with the work of anything you referenced. It seems like you’re being purposefully oblivious to this. As it was very obvious Dunning wasn’t what the pettiness was aimed at. Further showing your [lack of] candor


It seems a lot of people don’t get your point of view, but I think you’re spot on. You only get what you give, etc. In fact, I’d say this almost goes with that article the other day about how to be successful, and the big takeaway was to be a genuinely pleasant person. If nothing else, spreading good “karma”, being pleasant, and building a momentum of it can help to breed happiness and success.


> We alone have free will

Do we? You seem pretty sure of yourself here

> the Law of Karma (reaping what we sow in others) is the universe's feedback mechanism to nudge us

Why should the universe care about the infinitely small meaningless short-lived speck of sand that I am?


Because our Creator is the ultimate loner, utterly peerless, absolutely Unfathomable. We alone can choose to contemplate It and Its incredible Majesty, and we, as creatures, can only grasp tiny aspects of its Being.

It would prefer that we choose to live humanely, deciding to rise above our animal potential to create happiness for others, so that more of us have the peace and time to contemplate this beautiful creation.


Is that first or second degree?


I am curious why you're convinced that Karma is a "universal" law. Your ideaology is interesting and good-willed but I don't think the universe gives a shit about karma.


Let's say that, before Einstein and Boltzman, physicists thought they understood how the world worked but not only did those two expand our understanding to a much deeper level, very few of their peers acknowledged the truth for decades.

I am convinced because I know the truth. Beyond that, it is the only explanation for happiness and unhappiness because it is the only truth of how this world works. As quantum physics underlies all of creation, there are some truths one must experience to understand; i.e. we must each 'open the box and see' ourselves.

We are the only creatures in this plane with free will and the price of that free will is learning how to use it in cooperation with our fellow human beings for the happiness of one and all. It is the design of the universe. If we had adopted this attitude as a human race we would not be mindlessly destroying our Earth's environment for immediate gratification.

Perhaps two trillion galaxies with a couple of hundred billion stars in each, our universe's point-source Big Bang origin has been confirmed by theory and the measurable remnants of that explosion, called the cosmic microwave background radiation. And yet there is no Creator? Not only is not scientific, the truth of our having a Creator is the only explanation that makes logical sense.

We are each made to directly interface with our Creator via the information system that underlies this universe in order that we can learn how to live happier lives, yet we are completely free to choose to ignore this fact, as our free will is absolutely freely given. There are many fools who deny this reality while failing basic science by having never made that inward journey; I tell you that this is possible and they would call me the fool, yet they can offer no understanding of this universe and our purpose of human life: to be happy by helping ALL others be happy, too.

"The Way goes in." --Rumi

Einstein proved Boltzman correct but it was years before Einstein was accepted. And so I am downvoted by the legions of closed-minded materialists present on this site. Alas, they don't know happiness and only increase their unhappiness by fighting this Sufi Message of Love. It is up to each individual to make that connection for themselves. We are each both the experiment and the performer of the experiment. To be consumed by love with our Creator's help is the goal and the purpose can be stated with one line: "On Earth as it is in Heaven." That purpose is the same across all forms of religion, though hypocritical liars are also present in all such forms. There are also those of us in each of them that are attempting to be consumed by love for ALL our fellow human beings, irrespective of their path. We are the Sufis.


For you, maybe, but there are people who happiness is the results of making others not happy.

Maybe fundamentals reality is happiness is subjective.


Happiness is not the same thing as pleasure. Happiness comes from within and is unrelated to external circumstances. Pleasure is a purely physical feeling and there are certainly people who take pleasure in other people's misery.


You were saying happiness is a result of making others happy. Isn't this external circumstances ?

What about people who are happiness is the result of making other unhappy.


That is not happiness, it is sadistic pleasure and it only increases their unhappiness.

[Editing because I can't make a new reply for a while]:

Happiness is an upwelling feeling in our being. Pleasure is a purely physical sensation. Sure, they may happen together but they may also happen in apparent contradiction. That is why the sadist who likes taking pleasure in creating misery in non-masochists is doing so to while increasing their eventual unhappiness, and also why people in difficult circumstances can still experience sublime happiness.

The key is that the Law of Karma has a cause-and-effect relationship in time ("you reap what you sow"). It's like getting drunk and then having a hangover for those who sow unhappiness in others, while creating happiness in others is like a drug with no negative after effects.

This is why you will never see Trump truly smile as he can only fake it: he has ripped off everyone he could, used his powerful lawyers to keep from being held accountable, cheated on all of his wives, skeeved on Miss Universe pageant contestants by walking though their dressing room, lied any time he thought he could gain from them, and belittled every person around him for his own narcisistic pleasure. When you see him in a relaxed, introspective moment, his life of creating misery for everyone around him shows as plain as the sun at high noon on his face.


Ok going by your definition, there are people who experience the same upwelling feeling, when they make others suffer.

Or you are just saying this people doesn't exist ? Or they are just lying and somehow you know better then themselves regarding what they feel or experience ?


Ok so using your definition they is not happy. But thats just because how you define happiness.

If you define happiness = a result of making others happy. What is your definition of happy?


Reading is fundamental. Let me quote myself:

>> Happiness is an upwelling feeling in our being.


>No, happiness is the result of making others happy.

By your own definition, you can't make others happy. Because, again by your own definition, for them to be happy, they need to make someone else happy, but for that someone to be happy, he needs to make an other person happy etc... A never ending chain. Your definition is illogical.


That's a really nice try. I'm sorry no one has ever told you a joke that made you laugh or treated you with concern and kindness when you were down or gave you a gift.

The chain only ends when one link is left unconnected to another. That is why happiness only to the extent that people keep creating it from whole cloth. It is our choice.

Every compassionate act creates happiness in the receiver and then the feedback loop creates it in the giver. Once a person has tasted enough such transactions, that is all one wants.

Mock congratulations to you, my fellow traveler! You are just like Trump. That is not a good thing.

Choose to spread light and love to one and all and reap the benefits of that sowing! Or choose to live in shallow animalistic competitive selfishness and experience their brutish life in the company of callous alpha-seeking pack members who will have you so long as you keep your place or provide value for their worldly pursuits, ever ready to take you down a peg and show you the door.

Me, I'd rather hang out with the likes of Louis Armstrong. "Love baby, love. Yeaaaaaaaah."


Why are you so unhappy?


I've used the following formula (adapted from Dr. Julian Simon's work) for the past 10 years, with a good degree of success:

  Happiness = Perceived State / Expected State
You can either improve the numerator or reduce the denominator.

  Happiness = f(Reality, Perception) / f(Perception of Peers' State, Personal Needs)
By this logic, one needs to learn to ignore what others (particularly one's peers) have and focus more on the question "What do I want?" Trying to increase happiness by changing Reality (which is what most people do) is a very inefficient strategy, especially after your basic needs are met.


So if you expect nothing, you'll either be infinitely happy or infinitely unhappy based on whether your perceived state is positive or negative?


Presumably the domain is (0,1).


So you can only be infinitely happy?


Successful application of this approach can also in some cases significantly alter your reality as well.


If you want to be happy, start by looking around you and finding gratitude for the things in your life that are going well. Everything from the big things like a special person you're seeing or in a relationship with, to the small things like a sunny day. Do this frequently. There will always be negativity and problems, but choose not to focus on them as much.

You'll find that by consistently finding things to be grateful for, and being mindful of the things you enjoy, you will become a more grateful, and therefore a more happy person.


A key concept here is identifying with a desire.

You have some desires you don't identify with: you would be glad for them to be taken from you (eg. smoking).

You have other desires you identify with: you would not want them to be taken from you. For example, you not only want your children to be healthy, you would be horrified at the notion of losing that concern. It is part of your identity, and losing it is like a part of you dieing.

Hence the Budda teaches to see everything as anatta or "not self": nothing is worth forming an identity around.


I concur that we should follow Bhutan's example and switch to GNH as the most logical way to create a healthy society. Clearly GDP as a measurement is failing us badly given the many troubles in modern society/culture; primarily i am thinking about all the mental health issues associated with competition/money.

Having said that i would like to point out an insight i came across recently:

> Happiness is a byproduct - Krishnamurti


"I concur that we should follow Bhutan's example and switch to GNH as the most logical way to create a healthy society."

The article you're replying to argues directly against such measures of happiness, and against the very idea that happiness should be the goal of society or of life.

The article deserves reading in full, but here are a few relevant excerpts:

"To assign numbers as the UN does, one must assume that happiness is a single thing measurable by a single gauge."

"As the philosopher John Rawls pointed out, a society of happiness-seekers would have no reason not to borrow heavily and leave the debt to future generations."

"Even if one's goal is the best life for the individual, the search for happiness may be a false path."


Which is why i referenced the quote afterwards to illustrate that the pursuit of happiness is not necessarily the answer and of course happiness in itself is very hard to quantify but attempting to use it as measurement would create a better situation for humanity.

If we assume that Krishnamurti is correct and happiness is a byproduct the question naturally arises, a byproduct of what?


The word “concur” means to agree.

As the article makes no reference to Bhutan, national policy, nor concludes that happiness is a worthy goal, perhaps you intended a different word?


You are right i should have articulated better. I do think there is a problem with happiness in that:

1) Any measurement is only an approximation

2) It is quite possible that the "pursuit of happiness" is a damaging force in humanity (it is detrimental to the environment driven by rampant consumerism with the never-fulfilled goal of being "happy")

3) That there is the possibility that it is a side effect of something else amd therefore seeking it is a fools errand.

I mentioned Bhutan as they are the only country i know of that does currently use GNH and regardless of the problems i perceive with the concept of happiness i still think using it as basic measure would change the dynamics of society in a positive way


Having been to Bhutan the GNH thing was made up a bit on the fly by one of their politicians and the populace are a little cynical about it along the lines of voters having doubts about Cameron's big society and making America great again. That said I wish them luck and think it's a noble objective.

The 2019 world happiness report had Bhutan at number 95 out of 156 countries which looks kinda mediocre though I think they are happier than most countries at their GNP/capita level (about $3k/yr, more at PPP). The top countries in that report are the nordic ones, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Iceland at the top.


I think this piece is excellent, but it does seem somewhat confused one one thing. There are utilitarians and hedonists who believe in virtue, personal growth, and self-sacrifice. Hedonism says "happiness is good." It does not say that my happiness is more important than yours, let alone that your happiness doesn't matter. That would be egoism.


> As the philosopher John Rawls pointed out, a society of happiness-seekers would have no reason not to borrow heavily and leave the debt to future generations. (...) What’s more: if the only reason to have children is to make oneself happier, rather than to fulfill a social or moral duty, a lot fewer people will have children. Mounting national debt and a birthrate well below replacement level: that describes Western Europe today rather well.

Those two statements are inconsistent. If "mounting national debt" is evidence that the people of Western Europe only seek their own immediate pleasure, and if having children makes oneself happier, then we should expect those same people to have many children.

Maybe the author meant that having children don't make people happy (which may or may not be the case); but it's not what he said.


When you're not dating someone seriously, you're asked if there is anyone special in the picture.

When you are dating someone for a while, you're asked if this is the one.

When you've made that official, you're asked if there is any news, children-wise.

There's a lot of societal pressure from family and friends to have kids or risk being perceived as a disappointment or failure.

If none of that was there, fewer people might have kids.


I sometimes wonder whether this pressure is exerted because children are the main way one's parents, grandparents and extended family can stay relevant in one's life.


I've heard that there might be some evolutionary biological reasons why families would be inclined to desire children and grandchildren... :)


Or you know, because with fewer children, it would be quite possible that neither those asking the question "why are children needed" would exist to pose it, nor the species in general.


I suspect it’s just fun to be a grandparent - I imagine it’s a tiny bit like being a parent, but nowhere near as intense, esp. regarding the stress and workload.


When you have 3 kids, your asked if you are going to have any more kids.


> As the philosopher John Rawls speculated....

The reason for my seemingly useless pedantic correction is because it seems to me that using language like "pointed out", as if "a society of happiness-seekers would have no reason not to borrow heavily and leave the debt to future generations" is a matter of fact (he has no way of knowing such things, obviously) results in valuable ideas and perspectives being rejected by those who have a more rationalist approach to ideas.


>If "mounting national debt" is evidence that the people of Western Europe only seek their own immediate pleasure, and if having children makes oneself happier, then we should expect those same people to have many children.

He doesn't say that "having children makes oneself happier" (i.e he doesn't say that that's a fact).

He says that "if the only reason to have children is to make oneself happier" -- meaning if having children is just upon your fancying having children or not (as opposed to "fulfill a social or moral duty") -- then there would be fewer children.

So the two statements are not contradictory.

People procreate more on a personal whim (based on whether or not they feel like it) nowadays, and less based on moral / societal pressure (they is still that, but way less), and as such, indeed fewer people have children.


> Maybe the author meant that having children don't make people happy

He did not necessarily mean this, but necessarily did mean a weaker thing: Having children does not make some people happier. Let me explain.

> if the only reason to have children is to make oneself happier, rather than to fulfill a social or moral duty, a lot fewer people will have children.

1. (happy) ⊨ (children) 2. (happy) ∨ (duty) ⊨ (children)

If (1) is the case rather than (2) being the case, then you can expect that (children) will be the consequence in fewer cases. You may disagree with the idea that a lot fewer people will have children, but he certainly said what you thought he possibly meant.


> Maybe the author meant that having children don't make people happy (which may or may not be the case); but it's not what he said.

The author at least strongly implied it by "if the only reason for one to do X was if it made one happy, a lot fewer would do X".


I think happiness can be a handy practical objective if you don't analyse it too deeply.

It's interesting contrasting the countries me mentioned - Germany with Nietzsche saying "Man does not strive for happiness. Only the Englishman does" and Tolstoy and other Russian writers along the same lines. That was mostly in the 19th century and kind of followed by the English doing fairly dull money making stuff while the Germans and the Russians embarked on revolutions and wars causing huge death and suffering. Give me shallow happiness rather than that lot. Still I'm English so I fit Nietzsche's theory.


I subscribe to Frenkl's [1] theory. Some people seek happiness some purpose in life. Most are probably in between.

> What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.

[1 https://www.pursuit-of-happiness.org/history-of-happiness/vi...


When one strives for the happiness of others one has fulfilled the greatest purpose in life and the reward is a deep abiding peace and happiness, regardless of circumstance.

All it costs is your entire life and the scorn of your fellow man who are mostly embroiled in the seeking of pleasures and therefore know not happiness.

What a bargain!


So you agree to go wherever the carrot of happiness and the stick of suffering lead you?

Part of what you sacrifice in doing this are freedom, self-determination, and dignity.


Freedom is our fundamental human right, self-determination is limited by material means, and dignity is knowing that you seek to both understand and embody the highest ideals.

But sacrificing the freedom to cause misery to others? What a small price to pay.


You don't have to cause misery to others merely because you have chosen to go your own way rather than choosing to chase happiness.


Happiness : Pleasure :: Unhappiness : Misery.

The former of each are karmic, the latter of each are physical.

Happiness and unhappiness are not "chased"; they are earned as a result of one's treatment of others.


Eh, I don't like this article. Of course the gulag makes seeking happiness absurd, but it destroys all belief systems. The gulag destroys a faith in human goodness too, or a faith in social justice, or in individual will. It destroys religious faith as easily as faith in political atheism. Using that to say a life based on maximizing happiness has issues really isn't helpful.

And to be honest, no, suffering does not making your life meaningful. That's one of the most absurd things there is. Even Jesus prayed the cup be taken from him, and wept tears of blood. The author confuses having to survive with suffering as giving meaning beyond simple self-interest, but a lot of suffering is just meaningless. the camp cruelties are meaningless, people torment others for pointless reasons.

Finally, I always am wary of "meaningful." A lot of times you can make meaning in dangerous things that harm others. Happiness...well, at least you end up limiting the damage you do to others; the revolutionary who focuses on transcendent causes may have a meaningful life, but birth a system that gives us the gulag.


Classics have a way to taking things to extreme to illustrate various points. The Gulag example highlights that when a person had a choice to take the road to the left (selfish) or the right (selfless), they took the right road and gave up their self/happiness but ended up achieving meaning. Frankl's book on search for meaning also talks about meaning being more desirable than happiness.

The point is not that suffering makes ones life meaningful but the struggle or striving or the road seems to be preferred by the wise than an end state like happiness.


I agree with you, that was the aim of such camps (I'm also thinking of the Nazis here), and for most of the people, that probably was the result. It broke so many people who physically survived, too. And I think it's important to not focus so much on the "silver linings" of this "cloud", to avoid the sheer horror of it. But all that being said, "L'Espèce humaine" by Robert Antelme is a book worth reading. I only have the German translation:

> Die SS, die uns miteinander verwechselt, vermag uns nicht so weit zu bringen, daß wir uns verwechseln. Sie können uns nicht daran hindern, unsere Wahl zu treffen. Im Gegenteil, hier ist die Notwendigkeit, seine Wahl zu treffen, maßlos gesteigert und konstant. Je mehr wir uns verändern, je mehr wir uns von zu Hause entfernen, je mehr die SS glaubt, uns zu einer unterschiedslosen und verantwortungslosen Masse zu machen, was wir dem Anschein nach auch unbestreitbar sind, um so schärfer werden diese Unterschiede.

> The SS, which mistakes us for one another, cannot bring us so far as to make us mistake ourselves. They cannot hinder us to make our choice. To the contrary, here the necessity to make one's choice is limitlessly increased and constant. The more we change, the further away we get from home, the more the SS believes to have made us into an undifferentiated and irresponsible mass, which we undeniably are on the surface, the sharper these differences become.

I can't speak for any of this, either way. As I said, I'm mainly with you, and I certainly don't want to glamorize concentration camps. But for what it's worth, I recommend this book.


Although an interesting read, I have a problem with one of it's central premises, that security is not a good measure of happiness, and that the UN World Happiness Report has security as a contributor to the score. It uses statements like: "The UN calculators of happiness also presume that the more security, the better. The less insecurity, the more happiness points a society is awarded."

This actually doesn't seem to be true. They use reported security as a possible explanation of happiness score, but security score does not contribute to happiness score calculation.

It sounds pedantic but kind of throws a lot of their further arguments out.

https://worldhappiness.report/faq/


Happiness is a feeling. It's purpose is to reward you for doing the right thing. What that is can be pretty flexible but it's ultimately informed by our biological and genetic imperatives. It follows that you can not expect to be happy all the time just as a healthy human is not constantly angry or sad. Happiness is a means to an end which is to get you to and keep you living a good life and not an end in itself. The surest way to invite misery is to go chasing happiness. Ask a heroin addict, he knows in a real sense what Novaks pleassure machine is like.


>It's purpose is to reward you for doing the right thing

And who defines what "the right thing" is?

>The surest way to invite misery is to go chasing happiness. Ask a heroin addict.

Or you could ask an entrepreneur who made his dream come true by chasing happiness. He would tell you the surest thing he did to get out of his misery was chasing happiness. Depends on who you ask.


> And who defines what "the right thing" is?

Your human nature. Eat well, be outside, have friends, move you body, have children and strive towards something that is important to you.

> entrepreneur who made his dream come true by chasing happiness

I co-own a small business and running and growing it has absolutely nothing to do with chasing happiness.


I think it’s a lot easier to describe what happiness isn’t than what it is – it’s much less difficult (although still not trivial) to instead identify what suffering is. In that sense a good goal would be to minimize the amount of suffering in the world. But do you minimize the maximum suffering experienced by any single individual, or do you minimize the mean suffering, or something else? The particular form of the cost function is a bit difficult to reify.


Nature Boy: in the end, the greatest thing is to be loved, and to love in return.

The golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you (which I have read is a good summary of the Torah)

Tolstoy only had to make his hero live to love others first and then if he died unrequited its tragedy but less futile?


The platinum rule: do unto others as they would like to be treated. And, yes, that is (within limits, for we don't want to give the alcoholic more alcohol) the essence of religion.

I don't know Tolstoy but we are only responsible for loving others; if they don't return it that determines their outcome, not ours. Love is the opposite of selfishness so to require something in return is not love at all but some kind of manipulative transaction. That doesn't mean it doesn't emotionally hurt when someone treats you cruelly.

And 'Nature Boy' by Nat King Cole is a great, great song. It's amazing when a song can embody wisdom. My favorite is Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" with his spoken word intro:

"Seems to me, it aint the world that's so bad but what we're doin' to it. And all I'm saying is, see, what a wonderful world it would be if only we'd give it a chance. Love baby, love. That's the secret, yeah. If lots more of us loved each other, we'd solve lots more problems. And then this world would be a gasser."


Thank you for the Nat King Cole reference. Upon initially reading that "in the end, the greatest thing is to be loved, and to love in return", I thought to myself that that sounded nothing like Ric Flair.


Now 41 years old I relate to this on a deep level. Although I work in an industry which interests me, most days are spent thinking that none of it means anything. I struggle to not walk out and abandon everything a few times a week. I think I'm waiting for death.


Wealth would cause happiness, just at the beginning, the anticipation of all the stuff you can do, but as time goes on, it becomes normal and for some can lead to reverse as the disease of more infects them. That’s amongst many other factors that can mess a person up


"Happiness cannot be pursued. It must ensue." - Victor Frankl


"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be" -Abraham Lincoln


Happiness is a metric for how well you're doing in life, by your own belief (alief?). Our culture seems to be all about gaming the metric.


“I’ve never seen a happy man”

— Stalker

(from the movie Stalker by Tarkovski. A stalker is a guide that leads men to a place where their innermost dreams are fulfilled)


I read "Roadside Picnic" which is the Soviet sci-fi novel on which the movie is based. That has to be one of the bleakest most depressed sci-fi books of all time. It's up there with "A World Made by Hand" or "The Road" in terms of epic bleakness. It's weird that there is a literary style dedicated to exploring profund sadness and depression. It seems that somehow sadness has become obsolete in our society even though the statistics show that suicide rates have been rising sreadily since 2000.


>It's weird that there is a literary style dedicated to exploring profund sadness and depression.

I find it more weird that there's a prevalent way of living and organizing of our society dedicated to inflicting profound sadness and depression...

As a mere literally exploration it would be very welcome indeed.


Happiness is like intelligence: the word might have significance, but it's not really well defined if you want to measure it.


A Buddhist would tell you that the source of all our suffering is when our expectations diverge from reality.

I think they may be on to something.


If your doctor tells you that you have terminal cancer and you will die within 2 weeks. You expect to die within 2 weeks, but I dont think that makes you suffer any less.


I don't think that's a Buddha teaching and I would call that a learning experience.


The correct would be attachment/craving/desire, not expectation.


I believe happiness requires respecting the overall natural environment


Happiness is silly,

suffering is good,

socialism == Soviet authoritarianism and they're bad because they don't understand that,

and so wealthy unhappy people should not be expected to contribute to a social safety net.

Got em


>> Observing that wealth has not made people happier, some economists have proposed that

The fact that wealth and happiness are often mentioned together in articles and books is a very strong indicator that they are related.

The problem is that people who are greedy enough to actually acquire a good sum of money in this system are usually psychopaths. The problem with psychopaths is that their only pleasure in life is knowing that they are better than other people. Capitalism is built to make sure that psychopaths are never satisfied; there will always be someone who has more money. If you're not a psychopath and you manage to make a lot of money, then you will almost certainly be very happy because you won't care at all if a lot of other people are wealthier than you.


I can think of some well known entrepreneurs who could be said to have behaved in a psychopathic manner when younger, ruthlessly dealing with competitors, but then turned into philanthropists later.

One name in particular jumps to mind, which I won't mention because it's just my opinion.

But, generally speaking, how can one explain behaviour like that?


> But, generally speaking, how can one explain behaviour like that?

Physiological changes between youth and old age, in particular less testosterone.

Positional changes, going from being single to having a wife and kids. Suddenly you're protecting their future instead of aggressively ensuring your own.


That sounds plausible. There was one teacher I had who seemed to have a complete personality change after he nearly died (heart problem I'm pretty certain). He went from being demon* who specialised in humiliating students to being pleasant and easy-going. The first time I ever interacted with him was in front of the public when I did my very first bit of what might be termed work experience when he loudly proclaimed to all around that he was dealing with the "absolute pits here"


Yeah, a guy I worked with was known for crazy outbursts as well. Really mean behaviour, that sort of thing. After he got married and had a kid it mellowed a lot. And that's despite his frustrations with work being the same.


I can think of at least one entrepreneur turned philanthropist who is clearly still a psychopath. Billionaire philanthropists simply have large coffers of 'good PR' money; but this doesn't mean they're actually any less psychopathic than when they were in 'entrepreneur' mode.


Being a biggest, baddest MF in the business world, he now seeks to prove himself in a new field (filantropy and „saving the world”). I suspect it’s just as ego-driven, but lucikly this time not a big net-negative on the world.


People's Maslow Heirarchy of Needs need to be satisficed in order to not be stressing. I think the safety net of some European countries is a good model to emulate in many respects.

Ideally, you want people happy enough to form long-term, stable pair-bonds and have kids.... no kids, there's no future.


Your second paragraph is mostly correct. Furthermore, the vast majority of people who acquire great wealth have done so by taking advantage of many, many others, from the workers that they pay as little as possible (e.g. Uber) to their customers whom they charge as much as possible (e.g. the Pharma corps).

>> Capitalism is built to make sure that psychopaths are never satisfied;

Although it happens all the time, it's not the nature of capitalism that makes it so, just the greedy potential of human beings. We each develop an inertia of life and capitalism (especially 2019's unfettered capitalism) definitely allows the rich to get richer, but that is not built into the system, just the majority of human beings. No, capitalism is also very good at letting those who earn a great deal of money share that money with those who have been less lucky in the roll of life's monetary dice. More simply put: systems designed/implemented by human beings are only as good as the human beings who manifest them. If they are callous, then the system will be callous, and that is precisely what we have today.

>> The fact that wealth and happiness are often mentioned together in articles and books is a very strong indicator that they are related.

No, that just indicates that most people don't understand the difference between pleasure and happiness. Pleasure is related to physical well-being -- i.e. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and the like -- and wealth is the easiest way to get any kind and amount of pleasure one desires. Happiness and/or its opposite is the accumulated results of our treatment of others; it results in a feeling that wells up inside of us. It is absolutely unrelated to any physical pleasure.

At the most raw, basic level of our universe are the physics-level automatic systems but at the most sublime level (and only for human beings) there is the Law of Karma. Because we are endowed with free will and are required to live in groups to survive and prosper, the universe is designed with an automatic feedback mechanism to nudge us toward selfless cooperation and away from the selfish competition of our animal physicality. As such, we quite literally reap the feelings we sow in others. That is why wealth has no direct bearing on our happiness, although it is very negatively correlated with the tyrannical corporate execs who have reduced their workers to 'human resources' to be brutally bargained with to maximize the owners' profit.

As surely as a person can be drunk on power or alcohol or drugs, one can be drunk on accruing wealth at the expense of others; in all instances, the hangover is unpleasant. If the intoxication leads to maltreatment of others, then that hangover will be a deep-seated unhappiness that can only be cured by creating fresh happiness in others; each day is a new day, i.e. "there's still time to change the road you're on". The problem is that the inertia of our lives combined with the general denial of the Law of Karma's existence usually leads the person to only dig the hole deeper.

The entire purpose of human life is to rise above our mammalian competitive instincts and self-evolve ourselves and our societies into cooperative groups of humanitarians where we are obsessed with compassion for everyone. That such compassionate regard for the poor is almost non-existent in today's world societies is the source of much misery and unhappiness -- misery for the poor and unhappiness for the selfish, unfulfilled wealthy who callously disregard their ability to uplift their fellow man.

There was a great story that popped up here (IIRC) about a successful health-care company whose owner was in the process of converting it to a non-profit. Because he had realized that his wealth was the direct result of his workers' efforts he out-of-the-blue gave large bonuses to ALL his employees (based upon seniority). That man gets it and his happiness should be held up as how capitalism is capable of enriching society.


>by taking advantage of many, many others, from the workers that they pay as little as possible (e.g. Uber) to their customers whom they charge as much as possible (e.g. the Pharma corps).

This is not a useful definition of “taking advantage of”. I don’t see anyone clamoring to pay anything more than the lowest prices at Walmart or Target or Amazon, nor are they offering to accept less than the most their employer or customer offers them.

If there is a power imbalance between buyer and seller, that is the responsibility of the government to remedy. In your examples, options would be UBI for people who “need” to drive for Uber, and taxpayer funded research to develop medicine so that they aren’t patented by a private for profit entity.


The price of a product is not the same as the wages a corporation pays its employees. Walmart's billions of profits could have been shared more fairly with its employees but that's not how the "Cult of the MBA" treats their fellow human beings.

And it is not the government's responsibility to make us treat our fellow human beings with generosity and compassion, though I would welcome any attempts for them to do so. Unfortunately, the governments of the world are nearly wholly controlled by the callous wealthy.


> Walmart's billions of profits could have been shared more fairly with its employees but that's not how the "Cult of the MBA" treats their fellow human beings.

Except, to a large extent, Wallmart hiring executives is kind of like you or me buying groceries. They'd love to pay them less, but they can only choose from what's offered.

It's supply and demand and information asymmetry all the way down. It's not a feature of capitalism per se; it's something arising naturally out of desires and scarcity. Economic philosophies differ by the ways they approach this phenomenon.


But you are missing the very ethos of their hiring and wage practices: greed above humanity. It is what I call the "Cult of the MBA" and it drives our current world economic system is is destroying the Earth and effectively enslaving the vast majority of its population. And they own our governments.


Price of a product and wages a corporation pays (prices of the labor product of an employee) are exactly the same.

Generosity and compassion won’t prevent your customers going to the vendor across the street who will supply what you do for cheaper.

And Walmart’s profits would have provided $3k extra dollars to each employee (not life changing), and with 2.6M employees, that indicates a profit margin so low that they are selling everything they have as cheap as possible. How’s that for compassion and generosity for its customers? Should they give products away for free or pay people to take products from them?

Should they double their employees’ wages and thus raise prices so that their customers go to Target or Amazon and then lose out on revenue, and then how will they pay their doubled wages?

You can’t fight the benefits of technology and efficiencies of scale with people’s charity. You have to make laws that lead to everyone having a better quality of life. Everyone working a maximum # of hours per day/week, everyone having access to education, etc.


Competition is for animals; cooperation is solely human.

That our capitalistic system is competitive has good points (like keeping prices low, keeping markets efficient), but without compassion, generosity and fairness it becomes a tool of the wealthy to oppress the poor. The evidence is abundant.

Yes, the government MUST absolutely take an active role in legislating fairness for the powerless, but it really comes down to the individuals to manifest such fairness, and fairness only comes from compassion. And generosity in a business setting must meet the economic standard of recouping the costs of business, but when the business is set about solely maximizing profit for its owners, it has taken its darkest path forward. What that has led to in 2019 are laws crafted by the industries that seek to exploit the Earth and its wage slaves.


Some of people i know, earned money by just stealing other's people products, and they're happy about it.

Happiness is not about morality, it's about $$$ stealing. (Mean you can earn more than you can spend).

That means, in general, if you're moral to be happy, you'll in the chance of being fucked by robbers.

Fight for your safistation and goals, and you'll find happiness.




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