3 comments

  • >The maximisation of positive emotions and minimisation of negative emotions is everyone's fundamental purpose in life. So if we take happiness to mean this then yes we should pursue it. I recently heard a prominent humanist saying that he strives for things beyond happiness such as truth and justice. But what are those words and what is their purpose? Their purpose is emotional. If you did not have a 'desire' to pursue them then you would not. Our motivation is emotional, even if these emotions are guided and governed by logic.But should we pursue it directly? Well yes and no. States should do as Bhutan has done and state happiness to be the state goal (and by the way Bhutan has since gone on to achieve some of the highest levels of growth in the world, so happiness is not at odds with growth). However, if we pursued wealth by simply printing money we would not become any richer for the value of that money would decline as we printed more and more. Instead, we pursue wealth with various sub-goals such as employment and investment.The same is true of happiness. Does anything strike you as odd about the phrase "pursuit of happiness"? The oddness comes from the word 'pursuit', which generally connotes violence and opposition. If a hunter pursues a deer they pursue it with the intent to kill. Many people who turn to literature on the pursuit of happiness, subsequently try to pursue it in their own lives, only to find themselves ever falling behind expectations. In this case the word 'happiness' can actually become something to be despised as, to use the deer analogy, it is forever hopping and skipping ahead of us. We can see it and dream of catching it, yet it always proves too fast.So why is this? It is because people try to pursue happiness directly when they should be seeking out the sub-goals like family, friendship, a comfortable level of income, spare time, hobbies, health, fitness, adequate sleep etc etc. These sub-goals are both more achieveable (and achievement brings happiness itself) and they are the only sure way to bring happiness anyway. There is no one thing that will bring happiness. Many things bring it, and all have to be balanced.Hence in my opinion happiness should be pursued by both state and individual, but as long as we keep in mind that it is not simply happiness we are pursuing, it is the sub-goals that result in happiness. Although I accept it is difficult to measure happiness, it is not impossible. And if we find that levels of happiness have declined then we know that we need to rethink some of the sub-goals.

  • >I believe that happiness, contrary to what many belive, cannot be saught. It is a state of being, which we eventually achieve.

  • >Yet can you deny that happiness has causes?If achieving something causes happiness then surely you can work hard to achieve that something and indirectly gain happiness.

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