Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happiness and Sadness

Types of Happiness: Emotion and Sentiment

It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and impossible to find it elsewhere.
—Agnes Repplier

What do you take me for, an idiot?
—General Charles de Gaulle, when a journalist asked him if he was happy.

A distinction can be made between two major types of happiness. A long term sentiment of happiness (flourishing, well-being) and a short term emotion of happiness ( Joy, satisfaction).

As an emotion, happiness is a short-term state of pleasure or satisfaction occurring as a result of ( real or imaginary ) positive changes.

A steady diet of simple pleasures will keep you above your set point. Find the small things that you know give you a little high—a good meal, working in the garden, time with friends—and sprinkle your life with them. In the long run, that will leave you happier than some grand achievement that gives you a big lift for a while. - David Lykken

It was found that those people who are relatively the happiest now will be the happiest ten years from now, despite day to-day fluctuations.

Determinants of Happiness

It is pretty hard to tell what does bring happiness; poverty and wealth have both failed.
—Kin Hubbard
We are no longer happy as soon as we wish to be happier.
—Walter Savage Landor

Happiness can be experienced as a result of being focus on an activity and not the result. Happiness is then to be found in activities we value in themselves.

"It's the hunt—not the money—that makes my blood race; after all, you can only sleep in one bed at a time, and drive one car at a time”

- Chris Verbiski

Happiness depends on the way we act than the specific result of our activities.

Happiness “arises more from the pursuit than from the attainment of any end
whatever”. It "depends more on the degree in which our minds are properly
employed, than it does on the circumstances in which we are destined to act, on the materials which are placed in our hands, or the tools with which we are furnished."

Linking happiness to an attainment of goal results in unhappiness than happiness and in the end when the goal is achieved, we may not actually enjoy it as much as expected. It may be due to the fact that original circumstances may have changed by the time achievement is obtained or the expectation and reality gap. 

“There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get it” - George Bernard Shaw

Post coitum omne animal triste est —"After sexual intercourse every animal is sad"

Maintaining Long-Term Happiness

Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.
—Margaret Lee Runbeck

The happiness of most people we know is not ruined by great catastrophes or fatal errors, but by the repetition of slowly destructive little things.
—Ernest Dimnet

Dealing with the baseline (expectation)  and reality (current situation) gap can be done by (a)  eliminating the gap by changing the baseline or reality (b) coping with the gap by changing our attitude toward it.

One can endure sorrow alone, but it takes two to be glad.
—Elbert Hubbard
It is our job to make women unhappy with what they have.
—B. Earl Puckett, an advertiser

Sadness confirms our appraisal of things as valuable; hence it may happen that we take pride in our ability to feel sadness.

When it gets dark enough you can see the stars

Let us so live that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry.
—Mark Twain

Grief is the most profound type of sadness. It is concerned with death, the most substantial misfortune we encounter: it expresses the irrevocable loss of someone very close and of great value to us.

Moral Value

Happiness, it is said, is seldom found by those who seek it, and never by those
who seek it for themselves.
—F. Emerson Andrews

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Sorrow makes men sincere.
—Henry Ward Beecher
If a way to the better there be, it lies in taking a full look at the worst.
—Thomas Hardy

Happiness is often achieved through positive illusions; in sadness, reality is better known. Sadness is unpleasant, but it is morally valuable for committing ourselves to the more profound moral obligations. Happiness is also morally valuable but for different reasons: its main value is in helping us to perform the "small" everyday moral deeds.

Source: The Subtlety of Emotions.

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