Friday, August 22, 2008

Lessons on happiness

According to an essay I read a happy life comes from two things: tranquility and excitement. In a happy person the two have to be balanced. If for example you have spent time in repose at the end of it you would like to do something exciting. At the same time somebody who is excited all the time would be suffering from what the essay said is the ‘excitement disease’ such that the tranquility that would follow the excitement and as enjoyable as the excitement would be avoided by that person.

Now having addressed the feeling of happiness or the mode of it, the question is ‘what’ brings happiness? And the answer is that pleasure brings happiness.

I would like to elaborate a little on pleasure.

When there are two experiences both of which bring pleasure, how do we judge which of the two is qualitatively better than the other? Answer: If everybody who has experienced both pleasures chooses always the first over the other then the first is better than the other.

And herein is the mighty idea that I would like to share: a higher mental faculty is more pleasurable then a bodily one or even from a lower mental faculty. As a simple demonstration of this is the fact that no human would like to be an animal, no one would rather have the pleasure that an animal would have than the pleasure one has owing to being human. Also a person who has wisdom, such as Socrates would not like to be a fool. So while the fool might be indifferent the man with a higher faculty would not simply because he is aware of both the options.

Having shown that a higher mental faculty is more pleasurable why doesn’t everybody indulge in it? There are two reasons to this. One is: the person may have not reached and thus has not realized this higher faculty. Two: circumstance does not permit him and it is thus not in his ability to enjoy it anymore.

How does one reach the higher mental faculty though? The answer lies here: a person who has gone through a good education and has absorbed from it as a sponge absorbs water, not only the knowledge but also an awareness of the kind of knowledge one can learn, will always want to learn more.

The conclusion: To be happy one should attempt to unlock a higher mental faculty and that state once reached is most pleasurable.

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