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The problem with freedom is that most people aren't very good at optimizing their own happiness. At least when you're stuck in an institution there is some base level of engineered happiness as a by-product of that institution's need to fulfill its stated goals. Otherwise, freedom may start with travel and book-writing, but it has this habit of quickly devolving into sitting around reading Reddit and Slashdot. In other words, in their state of nature people have this tendency of doing just enough to make themselves minimally happy, even if greater happiness is ultimately attainable. Look how many people sit around all day playing World of Warcraft.

I guess what I'm saying is that even if you need freedom to achieve maximum happiness, complete freedom also leaves you with a much greater chance of getting stuck in some minimal existence. Which basically describes about a quarter the population of Japan.

Money doesn't just give you freedom.

This whole question could be answered by answering: what are the basic desires of people? I can think of:

1. power

2. love

3. reproduction

4. glory

5. health

6. just wanting to feel good.

Not surprisingly, you can more or less buy any of those with enough money. Or at least make it 100x harder to fail.

However, I suppose that prestige or glory would be much harder things to buy.

Your answers remind me of "The Game of Life." The three goals in that game were Fame, Fortune, and Love. Pick two.

Brings Maslow's theory comes to mind.

The level of freedom I would like requires me to own a federal reserve bank or a popularly traded currency backed by oil or delivered joules or water, so I don't plan on getting bored anytime soon. Then I can start playing World of Warcraft. :)

You're right, states of minimal happiness are depressingly common. It scares me how appealing alternate worlds like World of Warcraft are to society at large.

I think another factor is that people watch TV and play video games not because they "choose" stay within the local maximum, but because their daily jobs have drained most of their energies, that they don't have enough left over to tackle anything ambitious.

Also people's off hours are periodcially scattered, which makes it difficult to focus enough time and energy to create sufficient escape velocity for exiting the vicious cycle.

I just hoped you would propose an easy solution for not getting stuck into the local maximums of happiness ;)

Well as long as I'm playing Bodhisattva, commit yourself to something that forces you to leave the house and do something at least once a day. If you don't forcibly inject randomness to break up your days they tend to form a tightly-packed crystalline lattice of self-similar negativity.

I would agree with that. A day in to a holiday I am a mess trying to work out what to do first.

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