Part of the wisdom of meditation lies in the following: There is baggage we all carry, the self, this belief we're the center of it all, the author of (and subservient to) our own thoughts. How do I stop doing what makes me unhappy, if that's "who I am"? But, in reality, I can abandon "who I am" and find new processes of living and new ways of thinking about the world.
In practice, this resetting of your mind is achieved without training by various psychdelic drugs, which peel back the layers of the onion in an effortless fashion. In meditation, you train your mind to actually pay close attention, eventually achieving an effortless open-ness that drugs achieve very simply. Once you're good at following your breath, you can turn to thoughts and feelings, recognizing them as mere arisings in consciousness.
Mere arisings in the mind do not require response: there's no need to act upon our desires, urges, distraction, and regular patterns, they are just heuristics or mental shortcuts the brain uses over and over to save time/effort of decision making. Do we have to respond to all our noticing sounds, light, smells? If not, why do we have to respond to negative thoughts?
Negative thoughts may become crystallized into negative actions. However, if you know what behaviors of your own contribute to unhappiness, you can always pause for 10-15 seconds, meditate briefly, drawing upon your training of the brain's meditative ability, and you will notice the actual feeling of the urge to behave, and not act upon it. It will disappear like very other appearance in consciousness.
I’ve been taking up meditation and bubiddism but still very much a novice. I find that as you open your mind and see through more things, in a way things gets less interesting. It’s that feeling that you’ve seen this movie before. Maybe this is normal for older people but I’m in my 20s and it feels very odd.
How do you deal with that and not feel like a zombie.
Pretend your active focus or attention is like a fishing line. Pick a single thing, usually a physical object like a tree, and "cast" your focus onto that. Focus on specific parts of the tree, the bark, leaves, how the wind moves through it, how it makes you feel, etc. This will cause your attention to wander. Being aware that this is happening is crucial. "Reel" your attention back in and focus on just the tree again. Repeat this for roughly 15 minutes, at least once per day. If you can only manage 5 minutes at first, that's still a great start.
You are effectively training your brain to be aware of it's own attention. The idea is not to prevent wandering or emotions, but to be mindful of how those thoughts got there, and what you are thinking and feeling. In essence, how could you possibly control your thoughts if you aren't even aware of them?
Your zombie comment was something I was worried about at first. Spoiler: you're still free to act on those emotions or thoughts, but now with undivided attention!
Mindfulness reconditions the subconscious conditioned level in which thoughts and emotions lead to automatic behavior (i.e. conditioned behavior).
It’s subconscious because most people aren’t aware of how they are being swept away by thoughts and emotions. The reconditioning happens by training your awareness through breathing meditation, body-scan meditation (IMO better name than mindfulness/vipassana) and other meditations. Now you’re more aware which is how you’re reconditioned and with that you can decide to not act on your old habits.
CBT is a thing from psychology. Meditation is taken by psychologists from Buddhism and integrated into it. But IMO it doesn’t follow the philosophy of CBT. So to say it us CBT or falls under it ignores what it really is: a technique from religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
Search Inside Yourself is a good book to read more about it from or positive psychology from Harvard (2006, taught by Tal Ben Shahar, it’s on YouTube).
I find that it gives another option other than the default reaction to situations, so you can be more intentional.
Get a pencil, paper, and small object that you can fit into your closed palm. Like a nut, or other piece of plant. Set a timer for 10 minutes and spend that time describing as much as you can about the object. How it feels, looks, tastes, sounds. From all different angles in different contexts. Abandon preconceptions and play with the object. You might be surprised how much detail there is and how quickly the 10 minutes passes.
If you find a good knowing teacher, they can guide you through a process where you can attain the bliss of meditation, which is completely worth it and different from "regular" happiness.
As you practice, this newfound happiness becomes ingrained and you become happier. It's very natural.
But maybe it is age - I am in my mid 30s.
I'd read about people traveling to Tibet to learn meditation and how, interspersed with their actual meditation, were periods of instruction. This never made sense to me. Now I understand the value of that instruction. Sure, some people can pick up an instrument without ever taking lessons; most people can't. It's the same with meditation.
Highly recommended for both novice and experienced meditators alike.
It's pretty nice. There's a introductory course on mediation, a daily meditation, and lots of theory and interview podcasts.
Harris takes you through lots of variants of 10 minute meditations, focusing narrowly (on body sensations, breathing, sights, sounds, etc.) or very broadly (taking in everything at once), or a few on wishing happiness on others.
He emphasizes, to an almost extreme degree, the search for "self", for the thinker of thoughts. It gets a bit repetitive, but the goal is keep looking but never find the self and therefore see that "self" is simply an illusion of the mind. With practice you will experience more and more the pure state of experiential flow. An interesting aspect is learning to treat your own thoughts as another "input event" appearing in consciousness, just as sensory inputs are. You observe your thoughts, but learn not to become "lost in thought".
There's also some great practical wisdom about the waste of negative thought loops, the finite nature of life, and a habit of gratitude.
He has a great bit on "the last time" which ruminates on the idea that eventually you will do everything for the last time (and you probably won't even know it. But what if you did? How would it change your attitude toward even mundane experiences?).
Also that experience is largely determined by attitude. There are miserable people in the Carribean on luxury yachts, and joyful people in the dark in freezing rain (for example on a great wilderness adventure). And it's your ability to steer your mind that makes the difference.
I see lots of meditative techniques suggested to employees of larger companies through the likes of Happify, but if people really listened to their bodies their employers would be in for big trouble!
1. Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.
The things in our control are by nature free, unrestrained, unhindered; but those not in our control are weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Remember, then, that if you suppose that things which are slavish by nature are also free, and that what belongs to others is your own, then you will be hindered. You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed.
Don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whatever way they happen: this is the path to peace.
Sickness is a problem for the body, not the mind -- unless the mind decides that it is a problem. Lameness, too, is the body’s problem, not the mind’s. Say this to yourself whatever the circumstance and you will find without fail that the problem pertains to something else, not to you.
For every challenge, remember the resources you have within you to cope with it. Provoked by the sight of a handsome man or a beautiful woman, you will discover within you the contrary power of self-restraint. Faced with pain, you will discover the power of endurance. If you are insulted, you will discover patience. In time, you will grow to be confident that there is not a single impression that you will not have the moral means to tolerate.
You are a fool to want your children, wife or friends to be immortal; it calls for powers beyond you, and gifts not yours to either own or give. You can, however, avoid meeting with disappointment in your desires; focus on this, then, since it is the scope of your capacities. We are at the mercy of whoever wields authority over the things we desire or detest. If you would be free, then, do not wish to have, or avoid things that other people control, because then you must serve as their slave.
A good mantra for self-hosted FOSS as well, come to think of it.
> Whoever then wishes to be free, let him neither wish for any thing nor avoid anything which depends on others: if he does not observe this rule, he must be a slave.
So it still works if we extrapolate that to something like "If I was in control of this software, I would make it so much better." Well, congrats, because you are (in FOSS)! Even if someone else maintains a project, you can always fork it.
Sickness can affect how mind works very significantly just because of blood chemistry.
A wise person realizes it is silly to tell someone "Don't hope that events will turn out the way you want" without giving them real tools to address their feelings.
And for me that's living a less self-centered life.
I am happy when what I do with my life enriches the lives of others. But being transactional about this ruins the game. It is, among other things, the opposite of zero-sum. Do the thing for the exuberant joy of the thing itself, don't take yourself too seriously or try to carry too much weight, and act in the trust that, but do not demand as payment that this will lead to a happier place.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." [Ephesians 2, 8-9 NKJV]
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us". [1 John 1, 8-10 NKJV]
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (emphasis mine)
You go before a judge for sentencing, and he says that you have inherited a debt of a trillion dollars. He then says he offers to wipe your slate clean. Your possible responses are:
1) I don't believe you, I don't owe any debt. (atheist)
2) I believe I owe this debt, but I reject your offer. (demons)
3) I believe I owe this debt, but I will pay it myself. (good works)
4) I believe I owe this debt, and I am eternally grateful that you have paid it for me. (christians)
So your description would fall under category (3). You owe a debt of a trillion dollars and then say, hey, here's a couple hundred bucks I earned through my good deeds, we're good, right? That's a complete insult, to reject the gift, and then try to pay it back with a pittance.
The best analogy I can think of is if a husband says they love their wife, but they never help them, show affection, do anything to serve them, do they really love them? Now in marriage, love should ultimately be unconditional (to a point, all analogies fall down at some point). If a wife loves their husband freely, but the husband says they return the love but do nothing to show it, what can we infer about his love?
The notion that people should do good for its own sake doesn't really change the fact that it's the ticket for Catholicism. Conversely in, say, Calvinism nothing you do can guarantee Salvation.
And the theologians i've read who seem the most on point explicitly reject the transactionalist nature of payment-demanding as inhuman and a fundamental misunderstanding of the game.
i'm on board with universal reconciliation, so "pie in the sky when you die" never did it for me anyway, but to be clear i'm also not describing "some happier future state" in my top post as anything other than improvement for our lives as we know them right now on this planet.
the kingdom of god is not heaven after you die. it’s much more to do with the homeless woman on the street outside your house right this instant.
and i’m a boring mainline protestant!
Quite a few religions will regard the present moment as such (Buddhism, Judaism), but not all propose an afterlife. Whether all the world is the Kingdom, by definition Heaven is too.
The weight of messaging and interpretation shifts with the times to capitalize on the fact that people are more life-affirming when times are good, and if broadly there's toil and suffering, well, hope for peace in the next life.
I think it's disingenuous to ignore the distinction. You can quibble about what-its-all-about, but in accordance with the dogma there's either afterlife or there isn't, and that knowledge is so prominent in popular culture that non-believers know it, people from other cultures know it.
The mistake that rather a lot of my evangelical cousins make (i am not one) is that, to paraphrase James, they tend to be so focused on the life to come and have such a crabbed interpretation of "staying unblemished by the world" that they entirely forget -- or worse, regard as something that blemishes you -- the "visiting the widows and orphans in their distress" clause. And that just won't do.
> Do the thing for the exuberant joy of the thing itself
It's something that I've started to act on recently, and I'm finding that thinking about activities in this way overcomes the paralysis I often feel when thinking about trying something new. Framing it this way gives me permission to try something, and not feel negatively if I fail or am bored by it. I've discovered so many things that I can enjoy purely for the experience of them, that none of my friends know I do (and that I don't need external validation for), that also happen to be beneficial to other people who I would otherwise have never interacted with.
Parts of our culture are participatory. You get social benefits from going through the same things as your peers. When you stop getting sucked into things by your insecurities, you become non-participatory. You miss out on chances to connect with other people. There is no bonding experience for you, but there is for everybody else. It can be kind of alienating.
Imagine you are watching a new movie with people. 15 minutes in your think, "Hey, this is a retelling of a story by [Shakespeare,Brontë]", or "Oh geeze, the nerdy guy is the killer and everyone has dismissed him despite the foreshadowing." You now know the story arc, and so the roller coaster ends for you (unless the director is exceptional - Ron Howard, Apollo 13). Everyone else is having a great time. You're still having a good time, but you're paying more attention to the production values or the emotional range of one of the actors. You aren't part of the same experience, and you are gonna have a tough time participating in the conversation. Whatever you do, don't tell them you knew what was going to happen all along, Mr Buzzkill.
There are plenty of idealogs who would insist this isn't a problem. Your need to belong is just another hang-up you need to deal with. That you should let go of that too. But I don't think many of those idealogs ended their lives forgotten and alone because they never built a connection (or inter-generational connection in particular) with other people.
The problem seems to be less that literature is derivative, and more that the viewer is looking for reasons to dismiss things instead of reasons to enjoy them.
If you're trying to illustrate something esoteric, like black hole physics, immunology, or Zen, you're going to have to come at it sideways, via analogy, and possibly layered. Which may be part of our current, greater problem with anti-intellectualism. People understand the analogy and think this has prepared them to participate rather than appreciate.
So the problem with movies is that movies are the least of the problem.
I think that you(we) never are.
You need smarter friends... Hanging out for extended periods of time with people below your level does not work well.
1. Don't forget to love. There is always something to love. This is the most important thing. Enemies will try to make you hate (no matter what).
2. Be happy. It may sound as a trivial advice, but to be actually happy it's very helpful to consciously set your inner state as "happy". Despite all negative aspects of the situation you are in.
3. Be grateful. This is also helps a lot. There is always something more to lose. Be grateful for what you have now.
4. Dream! Dreams are the force that move us in our life. And the movement is necessary.
5. Live! Another trivial advice. But you can easily stuck under the burden without noticing it.
6. Try to fly over the problems, don't let them control your mind and thoughts. Think of them as walls (well, sometimes you have to break through).
7. Try to use long-term planning. Uncertainty is not a good thing for happiness.
8. Don't get sucked and destroyed by the temporary situation. There is always sunrise after darkness. Remember it.
The author does not cite research about about how "tedious hippies" make people sad, nor demographic evidence that California is "full of" them.
 by author I am referring to the author of the article which this thread is talking about
 by "full of" I assume a simple majority
The first is that, [serious things with a reference] they think of the weather and fail to take account of other things, such as the fact that California is full of tedious hippies.
The second, [serious things with a reference] [after a breakup] we’ll decide we never liked the person anyway.
The third [serious things with a reference]. In other words, last night’s party was never as good as you think it was.
 a pithy observation that contains a general truth
The first exercise I did in my pursuit of happiness was to understand what it means to be a happy person.
1. (At night) Would a happy person reach for the bottle of scotch? Why would he?
2. Knowing what I know about animal farming, would a happy person enjoy eating meat as much as currently am?
3. Would a happy person be as frustrated as I am with an under performing co-worker?
Once I had an idea of what a happy 'me' would do, I started going down a journey of self reflection. Why am I doing the things a happy me wouldn't do?
The whole journey helps me gain a higher resolution into my feelings and once my mind and my feelings are aligned, the negative feelings went away. My ability to empathize (initially I did not even know what that was) was no longer suppressed. Nowadays, negative feelings are rare, but every negative feeling and pain I feel is an opportunity to align my feelings and my logic.
I believe this: You will never be happy following someone's else's happy path.
You will be happy once you find the courage to confront your demons, reflect, and understand yourself better. Our minds does good job at hiding you from finding these demons, so a big part of the journey is finding and identifying them.
The reason I prefer listening to researchers is because they study populations and try to account for confounding variables.
I'm glad to hear you're happy, but I'm skeptical of how well you're able to attribute that to particular circumstances/actions.
This is probably a very bad thing to admit, but it is true in my case. Once I stopped listening to researchers and professionals, I started becoming truly happy. I feel like I'm making my own decisions. Doing research and weighing options leads to self doubt which leads me down a painful dilemma. Now I just experiment and make my own decisions that feels right and it is very empowering.
A tiny instance to try to explain my above abstract: in 2020 you can have a lot of tech, a cute office but still asked to archive a whole room on your own. In other cultures this would have been organized differently in pair for instance (you can see videos of people in asia building houses by juggling bricks between another). This turns a 10h dreadful and lonely chore into a 3h shared, almost pleasant, choreography. I believe how era is filled with false modernity which are mostly absurd lack of good sense around human needs for flow, teaming, etc
ps: critic aside, I find it lovely to see that people are "researching" happiness, which is probably more important to 100% of the population than a lot of "matieral" research being done right now
I agree upon what you are saying, and would love to know what active steps I could take to fill my days with deeper feelings and make them meaningful.
As far as the article is concerned, I do concur with his analysis, especially about mindfulness, and CBT. I have practiced mindfulness and it does keep me stable, grounded, sharp and happy.
Also I cannot avoid the immense amount of extremely low efficiency in most organizations... there's nothing interesting in today's live for most people. Just drag fit with shallow moments. I'd rather carry wood on a horse powered carriage for 3 days. And for once I'm not exaggerating much.
One thing that's surprisingly powerful is changing your perspective or telling yourself that you're happy. Similar to faking confidence, in a way: it starts fake but eventually you'll be actually confident, and you won't need to fake anything. Maybe the word "fake" isn't the right one here; I think a good analogy is starting an engine - the first few turns of the engine are artificial but what follows is quite real. As the article says, most of our happiness level comes from our mind, and you control your mind. Thinking something makes it true in many cases: research has shown that people get convincingly drunk or high just from thinking they are (being given a placebo.)
"Do more of what you like" is decent advice too, but it doesn't always align with happiness. I like swimming, eating pizza, and going to thrift stores. But I've tried, and doing more of those things didn't make me happier. I like biking, traveling, and photography - doing more of those did make me happier! And I don't like putting my phone away for a week, or doing chores that I put off, but those things do make me happier. My advice would be to experiment, and take notes.
Changing my lifestyle completely has also been good for me. It gives me time to look back and see what I really thought about a three hour commute or an unusual diet or unlimited data. Even things as mundane as new socks or a better phone case have made a difference for me. And there are some surprisingly big things I don't care about at all.
I think trying to improve your happiness in ways like these is generally good for you, though I'd caution against making it into an obsession. Pretty much everyone I've seen that's obsessed with a quest for happiness didn't seem very happy. I think there's another piece of the puzzle - being able to just be content - and for some that may be the hardest part of all.
Really? I'm pretty sure there are thousands of years of philosophical and religious traditions that teach something along the lines of "looking for happiness in the external world is a bad idea, instead try working on yourself".
I mean the four noble truths of Buddhism, a religion with roughly 0.5 billion followers, are (paraphrased):
1. There is suffering
2. That suffering is caused by attachment to worldly things
3. The way to get rid of that suffering is to work on not being attached to those things
4. The best way to work on not being attached to those things is, surprise surprise, Buddhism.
But this idea seems pretty prevalent in pop-psychology as well. So I'm not sure who the we in "our minds" is, but I think even most instagram celebrates of realized that maybe "self work" is a good idea.
Unfortunately there are some philosophers that, in the last 300 years, have started to question whether there is such a clear divide between the external and internal world... but I don't expect most people to spend their time reading a lot of philosophy.
I'm not 100% sure that the Jewish religion can be associated with Israeli foreign policy. Israel would be fighting with Palestine whether any Jewish believers lived there or not.
100% agree. I was born a Buddhist and was a devout Buddhist until I was 13-14 years old (then I became an atheist). I went to monasteries for weeks on end to meditate. But what I found was that meditation is not for me. I cannot get rid of my recurring mental sufferings (anger, fear/anxiety, jealousy/envy, self-/guilt) just by spending more and more time in meditation.
One thing that I found extremely useful is stoicism (at least in the way I interpret it). I simply learned to accept that these bad feelings come and go, and that is the nature of being a human. There's nothing wrong with having such bad feelings, which I personally call as 'bad karma'. I just need to be aware of them (which meditation supposedly helps detect, but I find myself being able to do without meditating equally well) and be at peace with the fact that they come and go in my life as a human.
What is in my control is how long I dwell on these moments of bad karma. For that, I always try to get myself out of these bad-karmic situations by trying to see things in a bigger picture or in longer term (e.g., 'Well, I am not making as much money as I want to now, but that's okay because even if I don't earn more than what I do now, I can still retire pretty comfortably by living a minimalistic life. Alternatively, I just need to work maybe 2-3 more years with the current income to save up to the level of savings at which I want to retire. In the worst case scenario in which I get sick/disabled, I will just learn to adapt as human beings and other living beings are observed to do in adversity.') Trying to see things from such larger perspective makes me feel pretty content and thus, releases me from a lot of anxiety issues.
Honest question, not looking to berate you.
I meditated to find Nirvana back then. But as I grew older, I realize that Nirvana is interpreted very differently even among Buddhist scholars, and thus is a relative/personal term. Nowadays, my definition for Nirvana is just to have a day without a lot of bad karma (hate, jealousy, anger, fear, anxiety) in my head. If I don't meet that daily goal, that's okay as well. For that, I find myself not needing to meditate and just need to be aware to distract my mind if I catch it in a state of bad karma. Maybe meditation will help some people catch their mind of dealing with bad karma, and maybe that approach might yield better results than me simply trying to be more self-aware and be more stoic. :)
But enough about me. About 1 in 7 US children are food insecure  and will go hungry at some point this year. One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. There is a lot of pain experienced by the world, and there's no age cutoff.
David Finkelhor, Anne Shattuck, Heather A. Turner, & Sherry L. Hamby, The Lifetime Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault Assessed in Late Adolescence, 55 Journal of Adolescent Health 329, 329-333 (2014)
My point is that the author claiming "I don’t think this last idea even crosses most of our minds" seems off given that "change yourself not the world" is arguably the dominant theme regarding suffering for most philosophies throughout human history, from religions to pop-psychology self-help books (even the idea of "self-help" implies working on yourself to solve your problems).
Even deeper, the clear divide between the "external" and "internal" is pretty suspect in nearly all Western philosophical traditions in at least the last 200 years. This is something I would expect a PhD in Philosophy at Oxford to at least be passingly familiar with.
Yes, there are external events that are beyond one's control, but often one's reaction to those events is amenable to reason and/or meditation.
(A thought expressed, e.g., by Epictetus: "ταράσσει τοὺς ἀνθρώπους οὐ τὰ πράγματα, ἀλλὰ τὰ περὶ τῶν πραγμάτων δόγματα" — people are disturbed not by events, but by their opinions about events).
The author is referring to the common man, whom we in the west have been conditioned to think much more highly of than is evidently deserved.
It should not be controversial to say that people by and large are ignorant.
There is an entire community within instagram that is focused on this. I think they call themselves the "positivity movement". I have a cousin who is heavily involved in it. They mean well but as a skeptical outsider I always find it a bit dogmatic; they tend to focus to much on improving point of view without the concomitant work on the material self.
"Makes it all the more valuable, doesn't it?"
See for example: https://grasshoppermouse.github.io/2018/12/16/seven-reasons-...
Of course there can be many reasons for depression or unhappiness. Some people sincerely can benefit from medication. Sometimes therapy is the right option.
But quite obviously the biggest factor is going to be circumstances. Happiness _should be_ a response to circumstances and improvement. It represents increased utility and benefit for you as a person and obviously the biggest part of that is your circumstances, physical, material, getting needs met, having resources and opportunities.
Some part of this can be about contentment or “zen” mental clarity or whatever, but clearly not the majority, or even a large minority.
I feel advice like this is meant to placate people and make them docile and capitulated to their circumstances and borderline lobotomize away their drive for things to be better by trying to change happiness from a fact of circumstances to an “attitude adjustment” - which is awful, no matter what positive spin you want to put on it.
Sadly what solved the depression for me was an external event (getting out of uni and getting a job).
Seems like it would be totally in your control to leave school and start working. Remember that for next time you find yourself "trapped".
Do you have a reference for these figures? 50% genetics seems high.
There isn't enough time to waste it on shitty people or environments, and making active choices towards that end has improved my quality of life even when going through difficult times emotionally, physically and financially.
"Retraining the way we think" has come up in (almost) every homily I've heard in Catholic masses. Many of us, besides thinking about it whenever we happen to think about it, make sure we do this every week (if not more).
Ironically, this pandemic has made me much happier as I don't have to drive everywhere. I finally have more time to think and pursue my curiosities instead of burning gas and yelling expletives. It's quite refreshing.
Further my time is valuable, not in a monetary sense, but when you have a child at home, every minute away counts and there is no value to spending 90 minutes a day on a train.
Just do what you want.
If you don't want to do anything, keep trying/looking for things. (Don't force yourself to 'enjoy' something. If you don't want to keep doing it after just a little while, it's not the solution, so stop.)
For me, it was video games. I loathed people who play video games. But for me, it was a starting point to start enjoying life again.
You have to start simple. More complex values come later, from having a simple foundation of simple values.
I don't want to trivialize your problems, but I just though I would share this since "Do what you want" is not advice I really ever see, so maybe you haven't tried it yet.
That would be interesting: a taxonomy of common responses to ongoing despair.
That is carrying an enormous amount of baggage that isn't in my suggestion.
Things do matter, and it does matter what you do. To say otherwise is both incorrect and too pessimistic about the human situation.
But, doing what you want is what makes anything matter. It's the solution to the "problem of meaning."
Most people just live their lives, getting barely enough of what they want to not become depressed and dysfunctional, but never actually figuring this out.
What you want is ultimately based in biology. A hungry person wants food; a thirsty person wants water. Of course, you are at a slightly higher level. But you have to look at your own desires to see what, specifically, you want. I would consider this to be a kind of hedonism (in the very technical sense of the term, without any other connotations, such moral looseness or depravity). I'm a long-term hedonist.
I wouldn't suggest anything specific for you (e.g. travel), because I don't know what you want to do. Travel definitely wouldn't suffice, for me. Like I said, for me, it is and was video games. I expect to move beyond that and want to achieve something more complex, eventually. I can feel that coming.
Also, yes, a taxonomy of common responses to despair would be interesting. Probably not helpful, but interesting.
Even if it is true though, is it worth the total loss of hope that would accompany the resignation to the endless night? To me it seems worth the ups and downs of hope and defeat, if only that it promises some points of positive change whereas if you resign yourself to unwellbeing then you will limit the positive upswings you’ll experience.
Either way, it should be acknowledged that there is a small minority for whom these techniques are but an Advil to a splitting migraine.
A good example is having kids; kids decreases happiness but increases satisfaction.
I also noticed quite a bump up when I actively decided to try to not be a cynical asshole _all_ the time. Meditation, on the other hand, never did it for me.
But hey, as long as it works. :)
Look to the ancients and medievals that we so eagerly forget and dismiss because we think we've unquestionably outdone them. Be careful, though, because your fallacious presuppositions may get in the way. They did for me, but with time, those vicious usurpers, that bad metaphysics, that poor substitute for properly understood science, has given way to a sounder picture of things dislodged from the tyrannical grip of error.
All that is to say that you should not be surprised if you find yourself reacting with incredulity until you begin to realize how unfounded and even incoherent it is. Give it time.
The worse alternative is if it is someone who was unhappy, and then did something to get happy, and now they want to share that thing. Maybe it is just a stop gap measure? I see this as examples in, say, youth pastors who are preaching the word, and then commit suicide and it turns out they were struggling with far more than they ever let on.
If there is at least an attempt at a causal explanation, you can evaluate whether or not the advice is worthwhile and/or applicable to your situation.
The advices given in the article ring true to me, so it really felt like reading something I already "know" but just don't practice often enough. I find it useful to be reminded.
This is so, so false that it makes the rest of the article hard to take seriously.
A ton of people thought about these things. Some thousands of years ago, and wrote quite interesting books about it (like a good amount of Buddhist treatises but definitely not only).
A lot of modern people think of that too, problem is that junk food / bad workplaces / tensions in the family / lack of good sleep etc. all change your brain chemistry so that it's very hard for you to look for the problems inward and try and start a change from within.
I don't have proof for this; but I've spoken with therapists and psychologists and they often admit that the pills that some patients want to take literally change the brain chemistry. And dietitians and personal gym trainers tell me that the right food and the right workout routine change your body's composition, hence the brain's as well.
So an article that starts with such a sensationalistic and untrue premise is kind of dubious.
A lot of people think about what the author says they don't. But many don't know where to begin for most (or all) of their lives. That's a modern tragedy we all have to fix: to educate people on mental health, how to avoid the worst kinds of stress, how to deescalate properly, how to give the benefit of the doubt, how to eat what's good for you and avoid the rest, how and what to workout, and many many others.
First impression matters. Call it literal if you will, but to me it's rather a bad first impression.
We should be aware of that and be very careful about the media we consume.
The point about writing down to help memory is good. Though I wonder if forgetfulness of bad times isn't part of hedonic adaptation.
Didn't read past this. There's a way to get your point across & this is not it.
The greatest horror for me would be to not be interested in anything. So many people seem to have this affliction. That is what I would call unhappiness: to be interested in nothing in particular.
you have a choice to mindlessly chase what you think is going to make you happy or simply enjoying your current life situation by totally accepting it. you don’t need anything besides basic things to make you happy. happy is your natural state and we inflict pain and suffering upon us continually. stop doing it - break the cycle.
Either you're naturally happy, or you're not. Additional chemicals (natural or artificial) can help adjust the dopamine, seratonin and norepinephrine levels that we sense as pleasure for a short time, but that's not happiness.
You can be an unhappy rich person, a poor happy one. You can be a happy paraplegic, or an unhappy Olympic level athlete. You can be happy while in prison, or unhappy while free. You can be happy in chronic pain and happy under intense stress. Or the opposite. Hell could be lonliness, or hell could be other people. It's 100% individual.
Accepting your natural state resets the bar, and lets you live peacefully. Everything else is just trying to be something you're not.
> Accepting your natural state resets the bar, and lets you live peacefully.
"Just accept... that you will always be miserable... and you can live peacefully."
A very western perspective. Vipassana meditation practices are essentially doing that, and I am sure lots of meditation types as well.
as long as you're not depressed, you're fine
You might be new to this because you've just started your PhD, but that doesn't mean everyone else is too.
> Actually the regions have comparable life satisfaction, but people say California because they think of the weather and fail to take account of other things, such as the fact that California is full of tedious hippies.
I can’t eyeroll this enough
Other people telling you what you should want is obnoxious. But I take it as axiomatic that whenever someone is doing that sort of thing, they're really debating themselves. Every debatable assertion is the outward expression of inward uncertainty. It's healthy to accept that.
If someone is telling you things don't matter, then they are trying to convince themselves. And if it makes you angry, then you are trying to convince yourself they do matter. You can just say "maybe, maybe not" and possibly consider experimenting to find out. Get things, give them up. It's inevitable that in life, first you get things and then you give them up, anyway.
I know that I tend to have an adverse reaction to the prescription of being "grateful", so I dispense with that. There are useful points otherwise.
Good sex helps.
Why does being happy have to be complicated? :)
if learnt to be happy without effort
then happy always
as it does not depend on any effort or outside influence..
final eternal happiness...
Man does not desire happiness. Only the Englishman does. -- Nietzsche
And the thing is, I'm almost convinced he wasn't. But it still changed how I read it.
People in countries where psychotherapy is not as prevalent as in the US aren't necessarily unhappier I think.
Some occupations have earned their bad reputation. My opinion. I am not happy with it, but generally quite happy I believe. I don't feel too happy about changing my prejudice towards this field.
Appreciation of what you have is a form of self reflection. Would be good for the occupation to be honest. Suggestion of this form are also often used as a form of psychological abuse. Also a field where this occupations excels in.
I do agree that open-ended talk therapy seems like a waste of time.