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August 01, 2006

Comments

cvj

"if its greatest exemplar is a 14th century European peasant, of what use is this state of happiness anyway?"

To the individual, happiness is essential for survival. As an indicator of national well-being, it is of no use. Since the condition of 'happiness' can arise from both fulfillment and deprivation, it would be meaningless and misleading to lump all individuals' happiness together and come up with some sort of 'happiness index'.

torn

Cvj — I agree with what you say about the difficulty of assessing happiness en masse, but I wonder whether it is even essential for individuals. That depends a bit on the purpose of living I think — if it “to create”, for example, then being happy is probably a big disadvantage. In fact the spur to achieving just about anything is usually a well of personal unhappiness (how many biographies begin with idyllic childhoods?).

So I guess the answer is to keep yourself just above the suicidal level and go forth and do great things.

Major Tom

In my mind, happiness is the most subjective of all facts of life and there's exactly no way of equating it empirically and this may just render every data culled or statistics collected mostly irrelevant. Yet, it might be mostly possible that the poor every day Filipino is happier than say, the guy counting money inside a huge financial agency in Manhattan or Hongkong, for happiness is very relative and situational. A chinese peasant in Xiamen might be so blissful just watching the sunset slowly fall down on the horizon, but if he'd actually given idea that there's sort of things as cinemas, televisions, cars, and rollercoasters somewhere out there in Beijing, then he might not be as blissful as he should be. The saying "ignorance is bliss" should hold true this way. And it only shows, happiness is more of a state of mind than being a human trait...

eric

I agree with Major Tom that happiness is indeed a state of mind.

Personally, happiness to me is doing what you want, whenever you want and wherever you want -- for waking up with something to do is a blessing in and of itself.

milkphish

sometimes, the adage "ignorance is bliss" holds true . . . or is it "complacency is bliss" . . .

Jon Limjap

I think happiness is a choice. It's not really about whether one ought to be happy or not, being in his own situation. The movie La Vita Bella (Life is Beautiful) comes to mind -- the character played by Roberto Benini simply chooses to be happy, not minding about how miserable his life *actually* is.

The pitfalls of a more educated, materialistic, white collar life typical of developed countries is that life is just more complex. And a complex life full of trivialities convincing you that you must possess a certain appearance, exhibit a certain kind of lifestyle, own serveral sorts of properties, etc. to be *truly* happy just prevent these people, fortunate as they already are, to *think* that their lives are miserable in essence.

It just doesn't have to be that way.

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