The Happiness Delusion
Happiness is a delusion? No, not necessarily, but it can be. Controversial title? Yes. What does controversy mean? Let’s start with this side topic before we get to the title of the post, as it is directly linked to it.Latin contra means “opposite, face-to-face, against”. Latin versus/versare means to “change or alter, to turn, turn back, be turned, convert, transform, translate, be changed”. We “contra-versus”, come “face-to-face with change” via new information. The change of information in our input of reality can be controversial, oppositional, adversarial or conflicting. It can stand against our previous information. Information can be true or false, and accepting either will change how we understand something more or less accurately.Truth is often controversial and uncomfortable, not “happy” or “feel-good” to talk about and think about. But denial is not the way forward, it’s only escapism.
“Never underestimate the power of denial.”
– American Beauty (1999)
Many people only want to talk about the good or positive things, or at the very least the “light” topics, not heavy or hard hitting aspects of reality to deal with.
Ever try to get someone to understand something, and have them tell you “stop bringing me down” or something similar to get you to stop?
I’ve heard it all when talking about serious issues that people don’t want to deal with or accept. “You’re too serious.” “You’re too logical.” “Thinking and logic are false, follow your feelings for what is right and true.” “You’re negative… critical… judgmental… unkind… harsh… divisive… mean… uncaring… uncompassionate”… and on it goes to try to invalidate what I’m saying based on how they “feel” about the information being presented, or “how” it’s presented in a way they don’t “like”. This is emotional mind control. Emotions are driving their ability to discern information, and they are fooling themselves.
When you talk about issues that matter, they want you to be calm and neutral, not express any passionate speech, or change in tones or emotion that they deem as “negative” or “harsh”. But when you talk about “light”, mostly pointless and irrelevant conversations, they don’t want you to be calm, neutral and impersonal, they want the passion and the emotion… I’m not saying get overly emotional when talking about issues that matter, or be an asshole douche, but expressing a degree of emphasis and passion in your speech/writing when talking about things is fine. Emotions are part of life, and can connect the reality of what is going on by feeling it’s affect.
Ever ask people what’s most important to them? Like the top 3?
You will often get answers like, “family and friends”, “freedom/liberty” or something else, and usually… “being happy” is last of the 3.
Happiness is a top priority in many people’s lives. After all, there is the great American Dream: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What is this pursuit doing to us?
Why are we focusing so much time and energy of this pursuit?
Is this pursuit and focus in life truly serving our potential?
Are there greater valuations for us to adopt in life that will lead to greater quality and conditions of living?
Can we simply accept happiness as part of life, and not a central pursuit?
Can we let go of our focus on feeling-good all the time?
After all, George Carlin made a good point about the American Dream, that you have to be dreaming a fantasy and illusion/delusion of reality to believe it:
Evaluating, assessing, diagnosing, judging, discerning and critically thinking about reality is not regarded as a high quality for many people, even though it is. Without judgment in life, you wouldn’t discern one thing from the other, and everything would be the same, making you unable to operate in reality. Knowing how to think properly, and how to learn properly, is important in life.
Knowledge and science are rooted in the word “scio”, which means to cut, divide, split. In order to know one thing from another, contrasting and comparing similarities and differences is required to see the variability, multiplicity and diversity that exists, instead of simply looking at it all as one thing. We have the word “universe” for that, referencing the grouping-order category of everything “turned into one” (uni-verse).
Happiness and luck are associated back in the etymology. The majority of European languages originally used the word “happy” to refer to “luck”. Think about it. When good fortune befalls us, when luck goes our way, when we are in a well-off situation, we are happy. When misfortune happens and things don’t go our way, then we tend to be affected by this environmental situation, and we are no longer happy.
Happiness is generally a by-product of doing other things, although like any emotional state, it can be consciously and willfully induced. Look at many “gurus” and alleged “spiritual” people, and some of them walk around with a permanent smile. Why? Because they have created a state of mind conducive to such a result, through various psychological means, such as positive thinking, affirmations, EFT and other methods of inducing psychological and emotional states of “well-being”.
Our well-being, being well-off, doing well, is to have things go our way and essentially be in “luck” as opposed to the opposite of things not going our way. Happiness arises from being well, to be in situation where we are going well. Things happens, and we are affected by them. We move through life and feel what is happening as signals for us to pay attention to.
There is the phrase “happy endings” when a story ends well, when the characters are well-off, as luck has gone their way in the novel and they end up winning. While some stories go this way, others don’t end well with a “happy ending”.
Happiness is the by-product of things we do, and the situations we find ourselves in that affect our emotional state of being. Happiness is not a means in itself, nor is it an end to strive for, unlike the phrase “happy endings” would have you believe in some romantic infatuation with an idea.
We all want happy endings, to be well-off, luck on our side, to win, etc., but is this really an honest life goal? Is that really the goal, objective, ends and purpose to our lives? To simply be in a permanent state of bliss like the alleged goal some “spiritual” people have adopted for themselves? What about simply being in a neutral state, and then being affected by our environment and situations that are presenting us with stimulus in order to have our emotions and moods affected?
Just because someone isn’t in a constant happy state, doesn’t mean something is wrong. Neutral emotional states of being exist and are the standard point between the rhythms and flows of experiencing positive and negative emotional states.
The environment that we are in affects our affinity towards pleasurable positives being experienced, or not. It can be positive, negative, or simply neither as neutral. There is no requirement to be always in a positive emotional state.
But this is not our natural affinity or tendency. We prefer, but also seek out the good, the positive and pleasure. This can overtake our perspective and philosophy of life. As a result, people are seeking to place themselves in situations at work, at home, with friends, in conversations, where they get pleasurable experiences from their environment, and not experiences of suffering or pain.
We generally seek pleasure and avoid pain as consciousnesses directing our bodies. That comes from a basic bio-natural survival feature that is built into animal life. Physical pleasure is always desirable over pain. Pain or dislike/unease in one of our senses indicates something undesirable or wrong, such as an a forthcoming potential injury, or an already existing one. Loud sounds, feeling heat, seeing flames, can all indicate a potential danger ahead to avoid, while actually feeling the pain of a burn or damaged ear indicates you have sustained damage.
But what about psychological pain that comes from hearing things we don’t want to hear? Sometimes the truth hurts, and we need to hear it in order to progress and grow as a society, and also individually.
People will accept and embrace situations where they get to be free from pain or suffering. Situations that take them away from this pain-free zone, are rejected and denied. When speaking about reality’s negative aspects like the horror, wrong, immorality and evil going on, many people are averse to hearing it because it takes them away from their feel-good pursuit of happiness that they value so much in their life. This limits their perception, conception, understanding and ability to navigate reality more optimally.
Fear of the “negative” truth and reality, that would “bring them down” from their state of happiness, limits their potential. Living in a positivity mask with rosy-colored glasses only degrades accurate perceptual acuity, both with our eyes and with our minds. The subjective is not aligned with the objective. That’s not living in actual reality as it is. Accepting a falsity creates an unreality, an illusion, and then you live in that false perception, masked over true reality. It’s a twilight zone.
Our actions are being driven by the pursuit of happiness. Don’t worry, just be happy… ignorance is bliss, right? Who needs higher ideals to focus on, like truth?
But, what if we were driven by something else? What if we pursued truth instead?
Many people want to stop talking about uncomfortable things that matter, or issues in the world we can come together to do something about. Propel avoid controversy and conflict. They want to keep the feel-good inner state, and the feel-good positive connection between themselves and others. For to argue valid positions, and engage in that conflict of opposing sides, is to risk losing a relationship built on ignoring anything deemed “negative”. Real relationships are built on the strength and integrity of truth.
The truth is a higher valuation to consider and focus on. We will automatically attain happiness for ourselves and others, as we pursue truth in our lives. Both the knowledge of what is true and false, as well as the knowledge of what is a better and right way to live. Truth is synonymous with existence and reality. Gaining quality truth that will affect our condition and quality of life matters. As our quality and condition of life increases, that environmental condition will automatically affect a general increase in our overall state of well-, in so far as being neutral with mostly positive experiences. But right now, there is some serious shit to deal with, and we need to face a lot of negative crap going on.
We can accept that life has it’s ups and downs, it’s good and bad, it’s pleasure and pain. Attaching ourselves to a polarized fixed state of being is doable, but is it required? Is it that beneficial? As long as one is not avoiding, ignoring or denying the problem around them and in themselves, then I guess it’s not much of an issue. But the feel-good pleasure trap is an easy escapism and coping tool for dealing with the sickness of society that few bare to look at, but is nonetheless recognized at an unconscious level.
“Human sickness is so severe that few can bear to look at it. But those who do will become well.
– Vernon Howard”
We have to be willing to be affected by reality, and feel worry, anxiety, discomfort, insecurity, doubt, and fear. Emotions are signals. They tell us either something is wrong with our perception of reality that needs to be corrected, or something is wrong with the human reality we have created that needs to be corrected.
I have long suspected much depression is a misalignment of our internal perception of how we expect, want, wish and desire reality to be, contrasted with how it actually is. This misaligned fracture is not accepted and corrected, and then shocks one to their foundations and cracks their worldview and self-view, often reducing their self-worth and valuations. We are so attached to ourselves and our sense of self, that when we lose part of our understanding of something, it can affect our identity greatly.
Objective detachment can help us get over ourselves in terms of our attachment and focus on how we want and desire to feel. This allows us to honestly face the truth no matter how much it contradicts and conflicts with our perception of reality, or of ourselves, that may be false. We can be more secure with being insecure. We can be more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Recognize the signals, and learn what they are saying.
Is happiness a delusion? I’m not invalidating happiness as a complete delusion. Happiness is a delusion in this way for many of us, because we are misleading, fooling and deceiving ourselves through a fixation and focus on happiness, pleasure, and feeling-good that plays down the potential we have to deal with the issues that remain hidden to most of our cognitive perception. There are many machinations of nefarious natures in the world. They interweave their tentacles of influence into our lives on a daily basis without many of us being aware of their true nature, taking things on the appearance and illusion of “good” and “order”.
Time and attention spent on fulfilling our desires, gratifying our senses, our affinity for positive sense stimulus in a physical as well as psychological manner, is central for many people. Where is the time and attention seeking to understand important quality truth that will provide understanding on how to improve the quality and condition of our lives? Where is the time devoted to learning about important truths like morality?
Be happy. No problem. But, maybe let it come, and go, whatever, no biggy. No need to go seeking it out and making it one of our top desires, priorities and aspirations in life. It’s a part of human life and experience, not the goal, objective or ends in itself.
When we focus on what makes us happy, what makes us feel-good, what gives us pleasure or gratification, we willfully ignore what doesn’t, whether it be neutral or a negative (as mentioned earlier with emotional mind control). As such, we focus on ourselves, putting ourselves and those around us as the center of focus (which is natural), but at the exclusion of things like greater comprehension of truth and morality. We want, desire and wish to focus on “my freedom”, “my survival”, “my truth”, all about me, my family, and those closest to me that I identify with. We are consumed with subjective valuations as subjective morality, and are ignoring the other side of including others, of everything together in an aggregate holistic objective moral understanding of how to act and behave.
Happiness is a state of mind. It’s not a real measure of the quality and condition of our lives. Emotional and psychological states can be induced, regardless of the actual quality and condition of the life someone leads. Go to North Korea, and see all the mind controlled weeping women who cry for their dictator, or are happy about having a dictator that is doing well… Look at our own politics in the West and people’s emotional states that surround false dichotomous oppositional choices… Look at how people get emotional for sports events… Consciousness can be induced with information (true or false, accurate or not) to change how we think, feel and act.
What do you think?