The world's view of happiness
A popular quotation on happiness among the humanists comes from the nineteenth-century American agnostic Robert Ingersoll. “Happiness is the only good,” Ingersoll said. “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so” (see Jacoby 2013: 97).
From the article Forget Happiness:
When you say to yourself, “I want to be happy,” you are telling yourself that you are not happy, and you start looking for something that will make you feel happy. You go to a movie, go shopping, hang out with friends, buy a new jacket, computer, or jewelry, read a good book or explore a new hobby, all in the effort to feel happy. The harder you try to be happy, the more you reinforce that belief that you are not happy. You can try to ignore it, but the belief is still there.
Even in close relationships, spending time with a friend, even while helping others or doing other good works, if your attention is on what you are feeling, on what you are getting out of it, then you see these relationships as transactions. Because your focus is on how you are feeling, consciously or unconsciously you are putting yourself first and others second.
This approach disconnects you from life, from the totality of your world. Inevitably, you end up feeling shortchanged in your relationships with your family, with your friends, and in your work. Those imbalances ripple out and affect everyone around you and beyond. The transactional mindset of self-interest is the problem of the modern world.
From the article The Stoics on Happiness:
- Practice Misfortune – Practice poverty, eat less, sleep in a tent, etc. If you’re always comfortable you’ll fear that comfort will be taken away.
- Turn the Obstacle Upside Down – If someone is unkind toward you, practice patience and understanding. If someone you love dies, practice fortitude.
- All is Ephemeral – Remember our passions are ephemeral and our achievements are trivial.
- The View from Above – Remember how small you are in the big scheme of things.
- Meditate on Your Mortality – You could leave life today. Let that guide what you do and say.
- Differentiate Between What You Can and Cannot Control – No amount of rage will change the weather or the traffic. But you can reject anger and rage.
- Keep a Journal – Remind yourself and reflect upon what you’ve learned each day.
- Practice Negative Visualization – If we prepare for the worst our inner peace will more likely remain when we encounter setbacks.
- Love of Fate – Happiness isn’t getting what you want but wanting what you get. Treat all you encounter as something to be embraced.
And a summary on happiness:
a) Don’t Suppress Emotions, Control Them
b) Control What You Can, Ignore What You Can’t Control, and Do Your Best
c) Love for All
d) Virtue is Happiness