October 07, 2012
Horse 1374 - Happiness Is A Warm Puppy... is it?
If you suspect that it's going to be a weird sort of blog post if I start linking to a website called "Happy Science", then you'd be right. I saw this poster whilst getting off the bus near Wynyard yesterday and just had to write something about it.
By the way, Mr Okada does indeed look quite happy.
Ryuho Okawa is making a speaking tour of Australia later this year and will be asking the question "how happy are you?". Presumably if you're not happy he will be giving his advice on how to achieve happiness in this hectic age we live in.
Before you needlessly spend your hard earned cash (which by the way would probably make Mr Okada happy), I will now dispense the secret to happiness. It is really ludicrously simple.
1. Have your material needs met.
Before I'm roasted about how materialistic this sounds, I'd like to draw the distinction between actual needs and wants. Humans needs basically extend as far as being fed, clothed, housed and living in adequate safety; that's it. People don't need cars, or washing machines, sofas, electric tin openers, stereos etc. Those things are nice to have but people can and do survive quite happily without them.
The biggest sources of material unhappiness, revolve around the issues of poverty, war, domestic violence and crime. Eliminate those things and you're well on the road to happiness.
There is an old saying that "money doesn't buy happiness". The truth is that you can prove empirically that it does right up to a certain point; and then it doesn't any more. That point almost but not exactly coincides with the point where one's basic needs have been met. Conversely and if you'd like to conduct the experiment on yourself, invite a robber to come around and steal your stuff. Eventually you will reach a point at which the amount of stuff stolen genuinely has long lasting effects on your happiness.
It is also worth pointing out at this juncture that humans are incredibly adaptable. When a norm has been established both upwards or downwards with respect to material comfort, any immediate changes will be noticed more or less immediately. Over the long term though and people's expectations will change to meet that new level of comfort reached.
2. Love and be Loved.
Sociologists, religious groups and even humanists will concede the point that humans are social creatures and have the inbuilt need and desire to love and be loved and for validation. Virtually everyone seeks out friends and is part of at least one connected group of people, no matter how small.
Basic Christian theology speaks of God's love and a relationship which is broken and then attempts made to repair that relationship, as does Jewish theology which is for the most part congruous save for their lack of belief as Christ as the Messiah.
Islam speaks of people's relationship with God as being first and foremost. Islam also suggests that this relationship also determines the basis of their other relationships with their fellow human beings, family, community, and even the state itself.
Buddhism in principle does not believe in a personal God or a divine being but it does speak heavily of the relationships which we have with other people.
Hinduism talks of a vast pantheon in which it's possible to relate to a whole host of different gods but also talks of the importance of loving your fellow man.
The point is that I've yet to encounter even a single religion which doesn't stress the importance of showing love to other people and/or the creator's love for their creation. What is in debate are the questions of "who" and "how" to love rather than whether it exists or not.
As daft as this sounds, be it the Christian model of the church, or the local community, or the family unit, or even something broader like a nation, people have a need to contribute and belong to something bigger than their own experience.
We can find evidence of this by examining virtually every aspect of culture we desire. Plays, songs, TV shows, novels, art etc. all tend to display the idea that people are meant to interact and befriend other people and their creator (pick any religion) to some degree.
No... actually that is it.
Every single text that I've ever read seems to come down to these two fundamental aspects 100% of the time. There doesn't seem to be any particular magic pill, no 39 steps, no program to sign up for, that really is it.
Most of the causes of unhappiness seem to revolve around either the lack of material well being or the lack of love, both as a noun and a verb. Admittedly temperament does have a part to play in all of this but that only goes so far as to explain reactions to what's gone on. In essence, provided that you are fed, that you love and loved, then that really is all you actually need to be happy.
Posted by Rollo at 04:21