In the age that we currently live, we are approaching 400 years since the beginning of an other era – the Age of Enlightenment; also known as Age of Reason, that era was considered time of great advancement especially in Western world.
During Age of Enlightenment science and generally the knowledge of mathematical-logical thinking spread throughout the population. Lot of things attributed to ‘Dark forces’, or superstition, were proven to be caused by completely understandable and logical physical phenomena.
Today’s takeaway thought cookie is here:
For as long as we do not enforce the pursuit of personal happiness, the world is in check.
We could demand people be happy. But this would be very problematic, since happiness is generally quite vague concept.
I studied some interesting clinical neuroscience and affective neuroscience courses at Aalto University. They gave wonderful glimpses into how the brain works, and what is the role of emotions.
Albeit non-problematic, I think we are in a good position to have emotions. Their “ultimate function” is to my understanding, still unexplained by science, but emotions most likely have had a big role in the shortcircuit logic and quick reactions of individuals in situations of challenge and danger. The brain correlates (circuits that are being activated by specific emotional states) are already quite well pinpointed.
Isn’t it a wonderful word?
It elicits for me images of sunshine, being content; perhaps a bit of pride of achieving something; but most I identify happiness as a transient state of mind, while it is not heavily engaged in a explicit cognitive action.
I think, deep down, that the pursuit of happiness should be all in all a personal goal. It should never be a requirement from the outside. Happiness for me means probably something quite different than for you.
Why am I mentioning this kind of subject? Perhaps because I think happiness is a slippery subject, and it’s been “on sale” for a long time. We’re seeing some kind of ritual addiction of measuring and talking about increasing our happiness; yet perhaps the discussion is quite devoid of relevance.
The above is not problematic. I think it’s completely ok to make a living selling books, courses and services related to happiness. But there’s also a undercurrent that I think is perhaps more dire: requiring people to exhibit happiness, “or else…” What else? Or else you’re a loser. You’re out. You’re a black pigeon. Spoiler.
We would probably, as humanity, be devoid of many risky projects, if happiness was the only goal. Success seems to require not only wisdom, knowledge, self-knowledge and humility to persist and execute the vision, but also occasionally success seems to mean suffering, sweating, tears, failure and occasional feeling of misery.
Human nervous system is such that it can actually detect relative changes in quantites, rarely the “absolute” measure. Thus we are prone to seek change, in order to keep our brain “feeling” and sensing. Change is
In communications theory, a person is always offset slighly by the absorption of new piece of information. Change is thus a source of stress; possibly unhappiness. We could draw early conclusions and try to minimize change. That means we’d be going toward a more rigid and homogenous society. Perhaps synchronized as well. There’s another word for a rigid, synchronized, homogenous society: fascist society.
I don’t want a fascist society. I want a society that allows the full spectrum of feelings.