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Thoughts on Happiness

William Gaskell's Philosophy of Happiness in the Modern World
RE Michael Plant’s talk at Oxford Brookes

When you introduce the concept of happiness as following on from Ancient Greek thought it is like you are introducing philosophy.

RE Genghis Khan: One point I would make is that I think happiness is achieved through the feeling of effortlessly accomplishing your goals, with God’s grace, and receiving joy for it. That cosmic resonance with the universal governing authority making you one of the polity, one of the people who really lived.

RE Aristotle: Well being is linked to doing things on your terms or as per your ideals.
James Bond must be living in such a shallow world to be pursuing happiness in his way.

Things need to be in the right context to make people happy. People seem to have to find a way of feeling good about their situation in order to succeed. There seem to be different perspectives as to which country is the happiest.

It would seem that overthinking things is something that leads to anxiety as it doesn’t produce the answers that we seek to make us happy. Perhaps our capacity should be linked to a comfort zone that works with other people as well?

Use of technology doesn’t really affect our happiness as it doesn’t affect us.

RE Your Thesis: It seems like a somatic argument for happiness – like the drug Soma from Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Rather than a mindful visceral experience where everything works perfectly and the default state would be enlightenment and joy.

RE Energy:  The Girls Next Door “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” But it also seems like it’s Ironic: “He waited his whole damn life to take that flight and as the plane crashed down, well isn’t this nice”. People who live Fully Alive like in The Wire are rising above these types of situations. No Fear: “Second place is the first loser”. These seem to be related to the recreational drug anecdotes.

Cloud cuckoo land vs things that are real and make us feel good. Arthur C Clarke’s vision of 3001: The Final Odyssey wasn’t a happier world, quite the opposite; it was a world that was more ordered and people were living with the changes that society required them to make to their bodies: a computerised skull cap which sounds like the opposite of a lobotomy!

The external changes of more money, children, marriage and better education can make people happier in the right context but can have the adverse effect depending on whether it is good or bad, in my experience.

Our happiness does seem to be affected by the changes in circumstances in other people. Young people do seem to suffer more than old people in that regard! But then it is also linked to health so as health declines so does happiness.

Happiness is also linked to doing things you like with friends. This is also linked to health and safety.

Your picture of mindfulness is like that of a society such as the Quakers, who were a society of friends that settled the first colonies of America. It is also like being a part of a sports club when working out and training together; being a member. CBT is like a story telling exercise – what is the scenario and how will that fit in with your world view? Let’s learn the winning mindset without having had all the requisite experiences that we think we ought to have had to have those thoughts - rules/must/ought/should are not necessary. Positive psychology of making things sound more positive to you, despite change in circumstances, will make your life happier.

Epictetus sounds like the wealthy ancient Roman philosopher who while on a journey by boat threw his treasure overboard as he feared his shipmates’ treachery and felt more content about his situation afterwards.

My point is that using £2 elbow patches on a £100 woollen jumper that I wear at home to repair the gaping holes on the elbows actually were almost as satisfying as the new jumper itself. This is EAST – Easy Attractive Social and Timely.


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