I came across a quote the other week that explains happiness in a profound way:
Happiness does not come from a state, but from a change of state. That it is so is illustrated by the total failure of every writer to describe a satisfactory paradise, whether in heaven or on earth. The tedium of eternity has almost become a joke, and the description of the earthly utopias are no better. Most of them fail to recognize that the human mind cannot hold any emotion for long at an even intensity, but that it always degenerates into something much more tepid… But it is not simply a change of state that makes for happiness; there must be something unexpected about it.
Charles G. Darwin (Darwin’s son)
In short, happiness only comes from change, from juxtaposition. There is no final destination that will provide infinite bliss — we will ALWAYS get bored and yearn for something more.
This is either depressing or extremely riveting depending on how you look at it. I see this condition as what keeps humanity pushing on to new heights! Our insatiable thirst for that which is new makes life awesome. A new experience always on the horizon. The proverbial game of hard to get. Satisfaction is a saucy mistress and I look forward to pursuing her for the rest of eternity :)
How about you?
2 thoughts on “A Quick Notes On the Nature of Happiness”
Saucy indeed! :)
Happiness based on change?
I think Baby Darwin is describing amusement rather than happiness.
More like life as an endless spectacle of entertainment. Of course
anyone would get bored by this. Yeah, I would imagine the concept
of an eternal heaven would get quite boring after a while, too. But
maybe, if things aren’t that interesting or satisfying to start
with, change is more than welcome, it is encouraged.
For example, if your friends are boring, you may want to change them.
But an endless supply of new friends doesn’t seem to be the answer
for me. Having quality people that you have known for a long time
can be far more satisfying. Your discussions then allow you to keep
looking at things from different angles, each time getting deeper
Lots of things make me happy and always will. I look forward to
finding many things that will make me happy in the future. I know
I will always be looking. Always becoming and never geting there
doesn’t bother me, per se. It is what makes for a life worth living.
So happiness is important but it is also elusive and non-permanent.
And I don’t always want to be searching for another brand new kick.
Maybe happiness is based on something more than just feeling,
something deeper. Or maybe we need a different word here. I’d call
it joy. And without joy to get you through unhappy times, life can
suck. Joy lets you see the light at the end of the tunnel. Joy
makes what makes you happy, happier.
When I meditate, not all the time, but sometimes,
I get a clarity, balance and sense of purpose, some sort of
connection. Now I can do without the religious overtones
and if you google “joy vs happiness”, you’ll see enough of that but
hopefully, you know what I mean.
Not living in the now, always putting off what makes you happy is
a game you can never win. Living in the now brings perspective.
Getting drunk, right now, doesn’t. Finding out what we really want
and putting perspective in our lives, and appreciating what we have
will help us find what makes us truly happy or better yet, joyous.
So, I’ve had it with mere happiness. It doesn’t lead anywhere.
Anwhere important, at least. Happiness is good but it is not good
enough. If you keep score of all your happy moments, it is not the
total amount of happy events in your life that determines who
is happiest. A happiness scale is, in fact, meaningless here.
Here’s a real short difference list. You can always add to it, if
happiness vs joy
external | internal
temporary | permanent
amusement | contentment
lust | love
using Ruby | having written Ruby *
* programmers will know what I mean
I believe that the purpose of life is, at least in part, to be happy.
– Yukihiro Matsumoto Foreword to the First Edition of Programming Ruby aka PickAxe