Is “happiness” possible or a cruel illusion?
Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook, your way of thinking, and this is not a simple matter.”
– The 14th Dalai Lama
His Holiness is being just a tad bland or casual, I think, in saying that genuine happiness is not a “simple matter.”
I am in no position to speak for him, but I am sure he knows better than any that the sort of “genuine happiness” (I prefer the term “persistent happiness”) that can be measured in the EEG of some monks from Zen and other Buddhist traditions takes decades of devoted meditation and other practices, surrounded and assisted by a community of people who support one another along the path. Very few are up for that sort of commitment or lifestyle.
That is not to say that it takes decades of practicing Zen and other meditation to experience any benefits at all, nor that the average Joe Sixpack has nothing to learn from such traditions, nor that science will not come up with technologies (such as greatly improved neurofeedback devices) which accelerate the process. However, it is to say, in my opinion, that “happiness as a steady state” is probably doomed to be a frustrating and disappointing distraction for the average person.
Finding more things to enjoy, and more ways to enjoy them–as advocated by REBT–seems to me to be more practical and obtainable.
However, perhaps this is one of those “hard problems” in philosophy. Maybe it is one of those questions or issues best left alone such as free will, consciousness, truth, etc. which are great fun for those endless sophomoric discussions over pretzels and beer, but are essentially unresolvable and end up causing frustration and disappointment. Maybe, after all, Meher Baba was right in his seemingly simple minded advice “Don’t worry Be happy!”
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Originally posted 2012-11-12 17:46:32.
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Thanks for the link, JvB. Thorough and useful. Those who are wondering if there is a genetic component to happiness, please check it out. This is the bailiwick of Positive Psychology, and they probably know as much or more about happiness than anyone these days. For anyone who doesn’t know him, JvB, Jonathan von Breton is one of the REBT “good guys” and we are pleased to have his comments.