Why strive for happiness?

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I use the word happiness to refer specifically to the 'feeling' or emotion of happiness. I am not referring to happiness in the sense of 'satisfaction' or 'success' or 'being able to do what you want to do'.

Many of us when asked 'what do you want to live for' might be inclined or at least not disinclined to answer 'I would like to live to be happy', at least all hedonists certainly would. (Or you can say I want to help the poor, but why? 'Because it makes me happy', not because 'I simply wanna')

But may I ask, what is it in the specific emotion of 'happiness' which has but limited biological value (motivation , less stress whatever) that people like to make it their ultimate goal in life?
A promise for happiness might help you sustain sadness. But is it really worth bringing sadness/pain/hardship upon yourself? I'm fine with looking at happiness as a useful coping mechanism, a means to survive, but not the ends to be achieved by surviving.

Or is it only a feature of language. Is it the case that you say 'i would like to be happy' Instead of saying more precisely but awkwardly- 'I would like to do things that I want to do the way I want to do them, failing in which I become sad. But to account for that case I have a backup plan of doing something else that will make me feel happy so that at least I don't have to feel sad, though I couldn't really do what I wanted to'

Despite the tone, I'm not speaking as an alien. I too am victim to what I'm now increasingly considering to be an unreasonable and harmful behaviour. But I wanted to know more thoughts here as I wouldn't want to discard this fairly common (perhaps for a good reason that I can't think of) wish.

UberDog

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Man is on an eternal quest to place structure in a ever continuing Universe of entropy. Happiness is as you say just one of the myriad of "coping mechanisms" that we use to make our existence and meaning seem logical and have purpose. Quite simply no one can know what is going to happen next so just deal with it. Peace and Happiness be upon your house.

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Valuna

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Quote by UberDogMan is on an eternal quest to place structure in a ever continuing Universe of entropy. Happiness is as you say just one of the myriad of "coping mechanisms" that we use to make our existence and meaning seem logical and have purpose. Quite simply no one can know what is going to happen next so just deal with it. Peace and Happiness be upon your house.

This so much. You need those 'coping mechanisms' so that your meaning of life and existance isn't lost. Everything moves 'forward', since there basically is not going back in the everlasting change of the universe (there probably are some theories etc, but let's keep that aside). In order to move forward and to reach the end of your life, one needs reasons to move forward. Those reasons that drive your life to make you take out it's last breath are your coping mechanisms.

We all have positive experience and negative ones, but life does not exist out of simply one of them. What makes us move forward is the positivity (negativity too, if you manage to twist it positively). One becomes greedy to give themselves a good feeling. So in other words, we all need to be a bit of a narcisist to live our lives. 'I want to do that', 'I want to become this', 'I want to have this' are all goals that motivate us to look forward to the future and to work towards achieving them. Achieving something, discovering, creating and even helping all have an immense amount of positive feelings. Even the slightest bit, will make you want to do it again, to go even further. This way, one can life a quite satisfying life in doing so.

Does it make us happy? Most likely, yes. I say so because when you reach one goal after another and find new ones, you make yourself feel good about yourself and the world around you. It's good to be selfish to some degree because of this. You need to grant yourself the rights to be a greedy human and live your life the way you want it to be.

Stuff is complex, no idea if I got anything right since it's honestly something you can write an entire book about. Happiness itself is big and is closely related to many other things.How to be happy is way easier to tell than what actually drives us. Well, in short. You must be one hell of a masochist if you like a life full of suffering. We don't like to be hurt, to feel bad and all so we seek what makes us feel good instead. Happiness is simply part of that good.

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Quote by UberDogMan is on an eternal quest to place structure in a ever continuing Universe of entropy. Happiness is as you say just one of the myriad of "coping mechanisms" that we use to make our existence and meaning seem logical and have purpose. Quite simply no one can know what is going to happen next so just deal with it. Peace and Happiness be upon your house.


So you're saying happiness is a purpose because it, like any other purpose we can think of, is simply a way to cope with absurdity.

I do agree that in this case it really is of value - in the sense that nothing is of value or nothing has 'inherent/pre existing' meaning or purpose anyway.
But then, and I'm going off topic here but I think this is necessary-
I don't see why would you like to think of life in that sense, that purpose and meaning is something present already, a given, to which you can then react to. In other words, why would you assume that 'things can happen any which way' and we can only 'try' to make it work for us, i.e. board a ship if it lands on your shore but whether it would or not who knows.
Instead why not create purpose and meaning, as simply as- let there be meaning and lo there it was- perhaps these terms 'purpose and meaning' do not even exist outside our minds, a feature unique to life.
Then it becomes your 'choice/will' to do or not do. A boat may or may not arrive your shore, but you are free to build a boat and set sail. You no longer have to be uncertain about meaning and purpose as you're capable of creating it, not relying on favorable circumstance. Or, as master yoda put it:
Do or Do not. There is no try

Now, in this approach, you no longer need to cope with meaninglessness and purposelessness.
Assuming you would subscribe to this more active approach, would you say that happiness is something worth striving for, or is achieving happiness a purpose worth assigning to your life?

merged: 01-28-2017 ~ 04:22am

Quote by ValunaYou need those 'coping mechanisms' so that your meaning of life and existance isn't lost... reasons that drive your life to make you take out it's last breath are your coping mechanisms.

We all have positive experience and negative ones, but life does not exist out of simply one of them. What makes us move forward is the positivity (negativity too, if you manage to twist it positively).


I agree, good feeling (or happiness or positivity) and negative feeling (or sadness or negativity) are passive biological reactions to positive and negative experiences, experiences of things going or not going the way you wanted them to.

Quote by Val
One becomes greedy to give themselves a good feeling. So in other words, we all need to be a bit of a narcisist to live our lives.


This is exactly what I'm talking about. Do we really 'need' to get 'good feeling' (or happiness or positivity)? This feeling is just a human idiosyncrasy like anger pain and laziness, it's a good biological input, not too different than eyesight or hearing, but should you make it the goal of your life? I strongly disagree. But then you may say what other purpose- and if you check my reply to uber, I feel simply wanting to do something is a purpose worthy enough, you simply create purpose. So I see the next paragraph the opposite way-

Quote by Val
'I want to do that', 'I want to become this', 'I want to have this' are all goals that motivate us to look forward to the future and to work towards achieving them. Achieving something, discovering, creating and even helping all have an immense amount of positive feelings. Even the slightest bit, will make you want to do it again, to go even further. This way, one can life a quite satisfying life in doing so.
Does it make us happy? Most likely, yes. I say so because when you reach one goal after another and find new ones, you make yourself feel good about yourself and the world around you. It's good to be selfish to some degree because of this. You need to grant yourself the rights to be a greedy human and live your life the way you want it to be.

being greedy (or more precisely, demanding/willing) isn't given validity by whether or not it makes us happy (and consequently cope with purposelessness). Rather, it's moving from goal to goal, wanting different things, which is a worthy purpose in itself. And ability or inability to do so causes happiness or sadness as me biological inputs to your brain.
So yeah, like I replied to Uber, if you do subscribe to the thought that meaning cannot be assigned, I agree that happiness can be considered necessary, a worthy purpose to strive for. But I don't like they outlook, maybe we can discuss on that in a different thread.

Quote by Val...How to be happy is way easier to tell than what actually drives us. Well, in short. You must be one hell of a masochist if you like a life full of suffering. We don't like to be hurt, to feel bad and all so we seek what makes us feel good instead. Happiness is simply part of that good.

this I agree with even using my outlook. Happiness and sadness are very straightforward indicators of whether what I want to do is happening or not, so that I can act on this feedback and do the thing in doing more or do it less. Though when you say we 'seek' to be good, I look at it in the way that 'we seek places where the metal detector beeps more, But really it's not the beeps that we're seeking, it's the treasure the beeping indicates that we're seeking. But the beeping might always lead you to the treasure'.

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Moved to General discussion section.

PS: Will read everyone's posts later in night, just read OP as of now. Rip my soul ;-;

merged: 01-28-2017 ~ 05:00pm
So finally read all comments and I pretty much agree with Val. (I feel like she explained my own thoughts pretty well). So thanks Val. xD

Quote by TheCompiler Assuming you would subscribe to this more active approach, would you say that happiness is something worth striving for, or is achieving happiness a purpose worth assigning to your life?


I think happiness is something worth striving for.
Like Val said you'll have to be hell of Masochist if you want to live life full of gloominess, suffering, sadness etc.
Without happiness Live is depressing pretty much, a valid reason why people consider suicide when they're really sad/depressed.
Someone wrote these lines, that are sort of engraved in my heart - "People don't die because of suicide, but sadness". (sort of off topic now but yeah without happiness life is sad just like without light it's just darkness)

As the Light begins to intensify, so does my misery,
and I wonder how it is possible to hurt so much when nothing is wrong.
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UberDog

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Fate(preordained Existence - happiness or suffering is set and fixed)...Purpose(believing one can change his/her Fate in the here and now - and in terms of the OP the strive for worthwhile happiness)...Hope/Dreams/Faith(Believing happiness will come through one's earnest human toiling at some time in the future)

Val is correct. As of now we can only move forward and the past is unchangeable. Human nature is to want to feel good and avoid pain but then again on man's pain may be another man's pleasure. The one constant is that existence is always moving forward and it is always relative.

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Those terms make things very easier to say.
But OP isn't saying- believing one can change his/her Fate in the here and now = the strive for worthwhile happiness. Quite the opposite- striving for happiness is worthwhile only if you believe in fate, 'everything is predetermined whether I like it or not, might as well be happy with it' (like the myth of Sisyphus).
But if you decide your own 'Purpose', of course you could choose your own. But most people choose happiness (I suspect it's because of habit left from the earlier subconscious belief in fate) instead of any other purpose. And I think while this purpose isn't too bad (partly because as you say till a limit, all things are relative), but it's not too good/worthwhile purpose either- like being a foodie. It's it bad? Not at all. But should you preach it to all the children in the world? certainly not.

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@TheCompiler (so much text. Not quoting)

The thing about happiness and feeling good, is that you need a purpose, a goal to achieve it. Once achieved or even during the progress, it gives off a lot of positivity about yourself. You can relate to this in many ways from simple experiences and there are even times it works out the opposite way when it does not work out. It certainly does not have to be the goal of your life, but it definitely is part of the ideal many of us yearn for.

About being greedy, I think you misunderstood what exactly meant. When people usually talk about someone being greedy, it is shown in a negative manner. But if someone does not have any greed? Wouldn't that someone not have anything they want for themselves? What makes that of that person? If you do not have any greed, then you step out of the way of everything and let everyone and everything just walk over you. Being selfish is a requirement to even have a purpose, so you need to be greedy to some extend. One needs to give him/herself enough importance and value to grant themselves something. I did say moving from goal to goal can give happiness without mentioning the negative part. You just don't have any goals if you don't find yourself worthy or unable of having them. This is where being greedy comes in play,

It does look like you question why happiness is given more importance than it actually is worthy of. If you look at many things in the world. A great example is Disney. They have basically 'brainwashed' girls/women to desire a fairytale life/lovelife and even the 'princess look' is very desirable. This happened through the years, but it is not something we naturally would desire. The fact that so many women want the exact same thing while there is an obvious source of it all, shows our lives and even dreams are heavily influenced by the outside world around us. The same goes for happiness. Look around you, it's blatantly thrown around without a second thought. They make you feel like it's a requirement or a goal in life. This is the fault of the media and whatnot. We all sorta start to think alike.

That's why I said one wants to feel good which may bring them happiness aswell. Everyone knows happiness is very fleeting and only exists in moments. This is why it actually isn't that important as an actual goal, but it will bring up your spirits on the short term. The strive to feel good is nr.1 and happiness is simply part of it along with many other things. It is not a requirement because you can also live a very fulfilling life when you have some of the other things that make you feel good. To put it more simply: if feeling good is the entire body, then you can live your life perfectly fine with one limb or sense lost.

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Quote by Valuna@TheCompiler (so much text. Not quoting)

that's fine. I'm surprised you guys are even replying given the vague context and of odd subject

Quote by ValunaThe thing about happiness and feeling good, is that you need a purpose, a goal to achieve it. Once achieved or even during the progress, it gives off a lot of positivity about yourself. You can relate to this in many ways from simple experiences and there are even times it works out the opposite way when it does not work out. It certainly does not have to be the goal of your life, but it definitely is part of the ideal many of us yearn for.

I'm going for a strong stance though- it's a part in the sense of a by product, and in no way as an end. I mean as of now it is the goal in itself for most of us, but if it 'should' be? No, it should be only a consequence of some other purpose, that's what I am thinking here.

Quote by ValunaAbout being greedy, I think you misunderstood what exactly meant. When people usually talk about someone being greedy, it is shown in a negative manner. But if someone does not have any greed? Wouldn't that someone not have anything they want for themselves? What makes that of that person? If you do not have any greed, then you step out of the way of everything and let everyone and everything just walk over you. Being selfish is a requirement to even have a purpose, so you need to be greedy to some extend. One needs to give him/herself enough importance and value to grant themselves something. I did say moving from goal to goal can give happiness without mentioning the negative part. You just don't have any goals if you don't find yourself worthy or unable of having them. This is where being greedy comes in play,

this is so true, even I don't think greediness is bad really. But since it's a negative word, I reserve it for more hedonistic of wants. But for other wants I think it's a very natural thing, not being greedy in these other reasonable wants is a sign of weakness and being oppressed I feel.

Quote by ValunaIt does look like you question why happiness is given more importance than it actually is worthy of. If you look at many things in the world. A great example is Disney. They have basically 'brainwashed' girls/women to desire a fairytale life/lovelife and even the 'princess look' is very desirable. This happened through the years, but it is not something we naturally would desire. The fact that so many women want the exact same thing while there is an obvious source of it all, shows our lives and even dreams are heavily influenced by the outside world around us. The same goes for happiness. Look around you, it's blatantly thrown around without a second thought. They make you feel like it's a requirement or a goal in life. This is the fault of the media and whatnot. We all sorta start to think alike.
That's why I said one wants to feel good which may bring them happiness aswell. Everyone knows happiness is very fleeting and only exists in moments. This is why it actually isn't that important as an actual goal, but it will bring up your spirits on the short term. The strive to feel good is nr.1 and happiness is simply part of it along with many other things. It is not a requirement because you can also live a very fulfilling life when you have some of the other things that make you feel good. To put it more simply: if feeling good is the entire body, then you can live your life perfectly fine with one limb or sense lost.

pretty much agree with all of this.

But just to be clear then, monu and uber don't agree with this right?
That happiness is 'necessary' only to cope with sorrow (which occurs only if you're not able to do something you want to), to provide its services of mild motivation and positive feedback to your brain. But the hedonistic view that I live for happiness, is not worthy of preaching, if you don't believe in pre ordained fate?

I feel this is important because as we're progressing, many people are moving up the pyramid of needs, so a happy life which was synonymous with a good life so far will, I feel, cease to be so for many of us, for many well to do people in rich countries I think it already has. Especially I think this will help people with 'new money' live better lives rather than simply pursuing pleasures that their earlier lives didn't afford them. Or even those struggling to become successful will have a clear view of what they really want, because it's too easy to sacrifice valuable time in enduring hardships only to end up being 'happy' but empty.

angelxxuan

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long story short, why not? what's so wrong with being happy, feeling happy, forcing yourself to look past the sadness and the bad parts of life and working on being better. it's so easy to be in a bad mood and reflect that upon others. a lazy person's reaction. it takes a lot of work to be happy and feel happy, I rather do that than be like the rest of the sheep and be in a sour mood.

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Simply because it's one thing to allow yourself to become happy. But other to pursue happiness as an end.
The latter, if one is not careful, could become a hedonistic life with all its unsustainable problems- striving for 'happiness' when one should have strived for a higher goal of say 'power' (acquiring ability to do stuff so that you can help yourself and others).

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