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The Science Of Happiness

ScuttleMonkey posted about 9 years ago | from the next-stop-miranda dept.

Science 542

Hogwash McFly writes "There's an interesting article over at The Times that attempts to answer the question 'So what do you have to do to find happiness?' by exploring the biology and psychology behind this highly sought-after emotion. This article opens up new insight into the common perceptions of what makes us happy, such as having more friends and more money. Detailed in the article is the idea that our early ancestors' struggles against adverse weather and predators have led us to instinctually focus on what is wrong or out of place in order to react with more efficiency, then going onto autopilot when things are going well."

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Happiness (5, Funny)

CmdrTaco (troll) (578383) | about 9 years ago | (#13708760)

Is a successful FP.

Simple (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708761)


Enjoy every day as if it was your last, life is a big party, Work is slavery

Eh, I gave up (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 9 years ago | (#13708767)

I'm such a black hearted emotionless wreck at this point, looking for happiness is a fruitless endeavor.

Re:Eh, I gave up (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708877)

Blarg, I was going to suggest a shotgun mouthwash but then I read your username and felt kind of bad.

Re:Eh, I gave up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709020)

So you suggested it anyway. Evil. Well, you made me laugh, thanks!

W00t my letter is written!
I did my homework....

Happyness or Pleasure? (1)

Erioll (229536) | about 9 years ago | (#13708937)

Happyness or Pleasure? Which is really being pursued by most? How many even know the difference?

Eh, I gave up-Barney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709028)

"I'm such a black hearted emotionless wreck at this point, looking for happiness is a fruitless endeavor."

Ah! A recent divorce?

Here let me cheer you up.

*(to the tune of Barney's 'I Love You')*

I hate you
You hate me
Let's chase Barney up a tree
Grab a .45 magnum
Shoot him in the head
Look everybody, Barney's dead!

Re:Eh, I gave up (2, Funny)

rillopy (650792) | about 9 years ago | (#13709082)

Ok Marvin.

happiness is... (1)

daeviltwin (692894) | about 9 years ago | (#13708769)

a picture of Natalie Portman and bottle of lotion.

Re:happiness is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708795)

That's funny, I thought happiness was a picture of Natalie Portman covered in hot gritts.

Re:happiness is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708990)

Only for old people in Korea

happiness is overrated (5, Insightful)

scenestar (828656) | about 9 years ago | (#13708770)

After having been chronically depressed for the past years i found out that happiness is just a balance of the right drugs.

Re:happiness is overrated (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709062)

Happiness can be had for nothing when you are bipolar. I have had the most intense short lived happiness for no plausible reason. Euphoria without cause is like a drug. You crave it most when you are slightly teased with an elevated mood.

True happiness is in proportion to a well founded perception of reality. Empty happiness is the euphoria of a drug induced haze.

Tis ironic that I'm down without reason and reflecting on happiness. I'll take either empty or true happiness. Sometimes it doesn't matter.

P.S. I don't do drugs or meds. I'm just a mule and carry whatever mood falls on my shoulders.

Re:happiness is overrated (4, Insightful)

RobinH (124750) | about 9 years ago | (#13709075)

Now, now... anti-depressants don't actually make you happy... they just make the depression subside a bit so you can get moving again and make yourself happy. Taking anti-depressants is like if you have a hole in your boat and you're sinking, the drugs are like pumping out the bilge. It doesn't fix the problem, but it will keep you afloat until you can get to a safe harbour and repair the damage.

But I'm sure you knew that already... :-)

All your emotions are belong to us (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708776)

Only North Koreans need emotional adjustment.

Imagine a beowolf cluster of brain cells.

Happiness is against human nature.. (5, Insightful)

brxndxn (461473) | about 9 years ago | (#13708783)

No matter where you are or what you acheive, one is never truly happy. To be happy is to be content.. and to be content is to lack the craving to better oneself. And to lack that craving is to lack a fundamental part of 'survival of the fittest.'

Yes.. It's human nature to be discontent.. and that separates some of us from the apes.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (5, Insightful)

BishonenAngstMagnet (797469) | about 9 years ago | (#13708796)

You can be truly happy without being fully happy. I am truly happy about many things in life. But I'm not fully happy, as there are aspects of my life (as with everyone else) that are not perfect.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (1)

brxndxn (461473) | about 9 years ago | (#13708848)

Then I could argue that lack of perfection keeps you from being truly happy. And, further, no matter what you manage to achieve, your idea of happiness will also change.

There will always be many aspects in your life that are not perfect. And, perfect those aspects and there will be new aspects.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708922)

Not if you take the more realistic definition of perfection where you recognize that things are what they are supposed to be. Too many people define perfection to be utopia. It's not. Perfection is when something is what it was made to be.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708824)

Another thing that seperates us from the Apes is our ability to overcome our nature.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (1, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 9 years ago | (#13708930)

Or, we can completely indulge our nature. For example, I would like to have sex with two chicks at once, in space, on the way to a moon vacation paid for by my billions earned through my aerospace/Linux company that I sold to Bill Gates. If that's not a fantasy that no chimp ever dreamed of, I don't know what is. Yet, it's completely giving in to our self-indulgent nature, but still distinct from a chimp's fantasy.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (5, Insightful)

nathan s (719490) | about 9 years ago | (#13708872)

I'm not exactly sure that "bettering oneself" necessarily has any relation to "survival of the fittest" - many people's idea of "bettering" themselves have led them to early deaths, like some of the great explorers. In terms of sheer survival of the fittest, the person who doesn't stick his neck out too far and manages to safely pass on his genes to the next generation the most times is often [but not always] the fittest, and that has little to do with bettering himself.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (4, Interesting)

grogdamighty (884570) | about 9 years ago | (#13708964)

From a pure natural selection standpoint, bettering oneself has nothing to do with selection - all that matters is that you reproduce.

The whole point of natural selection is that you are already the best - that's why you've survived long enough to procreate.

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (2, Insightful)

UserGoogol (623581) | about 9 years ago | (#13708931)

Bah. You can be content while simultaneously desiring more. Contentment is not to lack the craving to better oneself, but merely the sense that things as they currently are are "okay." Contentment, as I see it, is not a lack of desire for improvement, (which as you say is a somewhat morally dubious state) but merely a lack of discomfort about your current position. Those are distinct entities, as I see it.

Thus, you can be content with your current state in life while at the same time desire more. I admit it's not neccesarily the most logically consistant position one can hold, but emotions aren't logical. (Although one may apply logic to the proccess of acquiring a maximum emotional state.)

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (5, Funny)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | about 9 years ago | (#13708949)

Yes.. It's human nature to be discontent.. and that separates some of us from the apes.
 
I always thought it was the fact that some of us don't fling poo at eachother that seperated us from the apes... I guess I was mistaken.
 
;)

Monkeys too, you insensitive clod (5, Funny)

bubbaD (182583) | about 9 years ago | (#13709045)

I always thought it was the fact that some of us don't fling poo at eachother that seperated us from the apes...


You must be new here!

Re:Happiness is against human nature.. (2, Informative)

Alpha27 (211269) | about 9 years ago | (#13708956)

Who's to say that the apes themselves do not exhibit this trait? They compete with each other, and competition is an effect of dissatisifaction and a wanting to prove something in order to be satisfied. If they were satisfied, do you think they would fight?

Just my 2 bananas on the subject.

Poster on Oxycontin (1)

bubbaD (182583) | about 9 years ago | (#13709095)

Neo-Darwinist 'survival of the fittest' would suggest that the people who leave the most offspring are the happiest. "Fittest" turns out to means leaving genetic decendents (this means bothers, sisters, nephews and nieces count as well as children and grandchildren.)

Of course, if 'craving to better oneself' means screwing your brains out as often as possible, that would be entirely consistant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selfish_gene [wikipedia.org]

Twins (4, Insightful)

mysqlrocks (783488) | about 9 years ago | (#13708788)

For happiness levels are probably genetic: identical twins are usually equally bubbly or grumpy.

This doesn't mean it's genetic. Twins most likely grew up together, right? Couldn't it have something to do with the environment/family instead of genes?

Can't be sure, since the article doesn't say... (5, Informative)

nathan s (719490) | about 9 years ago | (#13708822)

...but usually twin studies take this into account, including identical twins who were for one reason or another raised in different families (often as a result of adoption). Researchers are not all stupid; they tend to take these things into account when designing the study.

Re:Can't be sure, since the article doesn't say... (1)

grogdamighty (884570) | about 9 years ago | (#13708989)

Actually, the usual method is to compare identical twins to fraternal twins and compare the relative frequencies. The logic behind this is that environment is the same in either case, but genetics are either the same (identical) or different (fraternal).

Re:Twins (1)

deadlygandhi (618890) | about 9 years ago | (#13708911)

Ahh, but what you indirectly propose has been tested. Twins were seperated at birth. They found eachother when they were in their 40's. They are equally happy, to the point that the psychologist(?) who interviewed them nicknamed them the "Giggle twins". granted, two subjects are not nearly enough for a serious experiment in psychiatry(sp). I think I saw this on dateline so don't forget your salt.

Religion? (5, Insightful)

Programmerangel (882072) | about 9 years ago | (#13708793)

I'm surprised the article doesn't explore Religion and it's affect on people's happiness.

Re:Religion? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708847)

Speaking as a recovering Catholic, your happiness is whatever Rome says it is. That having been said, I feel the moment you postulate the soul (as it is understood in most Judeo-Christian religions), your Earthly happiness is moot for this world is a place of banishment and your only duty is to work/earn/bribe your way back to the Heavenly Host. That's why Christians find it as easy to torture people as do the non-Christians: What does it matter, the few hours it took him to die compared to an eternity at the side of our Heavenly father...

Thanks, but no thanks.

Re:Religion? (3, Insightful)

Overdrive_SS (243510) | about 9 years ago | (#13709016)

Actually Christianity says there is no way to earn your way into heaven. Everyone has sinned and that sin has earned you eternal seperation from God. However, Christ came to earth, lived a perfect life, and then died in your place. He took the punishment instead of making you try to pay for it, which you can't. And now He offers forgiveness for those sins and a relationship with Him if you believe and ask. It is a free gift. You'll still have problems in life, but you'll always have God to take care of them and the hope that one day you'll be with Him forever in heaven.

As an aside, people have used all kinds of excuses to do horrible things and just because they tried to justify it by saying God said to do it, doesn't mean that God actually said to do it.

Re:Religion? (1)

agm (467017) | about 9 years ago | (#13709001)

Religion may make "the self" happy, but in a lot of cases it makes people around them unhappy - especially with too much proselytisng and trying to hamper peoples' freedoms (which is quite often the case with religionists).

Re:Religion? (1)

ecumenical_40oz (914889) | about 9 years ago | (#13709023)

Actually, I was quite pleased that they avoided religion. Making people happy is just as much the realm of psychology as curing depression, but many people have the attitude that happiness is only possible through devotion to a religion. Tell people that you want to make them happy, and they will most likely assume that you are about to tell them about your God (or coming on to them).

Re:Religion? (4, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | about 9 years ago | (#13709040)

I'm surprised the article doesn't explore Religion and it's affect on people's happiness.

Probably because religion - just like many other things - are somewhat orthogonal to happiness. Being religious does not make you more or less likely to be happy.

I dare say it's not what you take an interest in that matters, but that you do take an interest in something that is the important thing. Whether you crusade for an old testament-based judicial system with mandatory stoning for wearing mixed fibers; or campaign for the right to gay sex with donkeys dressed up as nuns in public while smoking pot from a cross-shaped bong really doesn't matter for your happiness just as long as you are passionate about it.

Re:Religion? (2, Insightful)

Eil (82413) | about 9 years ago | (#13709091)

Religion doesn't make people happy, it makes people feel safe. (The happiness comes more from the social aspects of religion than from faith itself.)

Money? (1)

knightinshiningarmor (653332) | about 9 years ago | (#13708803)

Money always seems to make me happy.

Re:Money? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708837)

yeah because to you more money = bigger selection of prostitutes

Slashdot MOTD (4, Funny)

puppetman (131489) | about 9 years ago | (#13708804)

Saw a message of the day at the bottom of the slashdot page a few weeks ago:

"Men don't know what happiness is until they are married, but by then it's too late".

Good for wedding toasts...

Re:Slashdot MOTD (1)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | about 9 years ago | (#13708821)

Saw a message of the day at the bottom of the slashdot page a few weeks ago: "Men don't know what happiness is until they are married, but by then it's too late". Good for wedding toasts...

I feel today's is equally (if not more) relevant:
"Beam me up, Scotty! It ate my phaser!"

Nothing quite like watching William Shatner be bullied by a giant noodly space monster. Weeping with full stops between the sobs, and the like.

As The Beatles would say (5, Funny)

ZakuSage (874456) | about 9 years ago | (#13708807)

Happiness is a warm gun.

Re:As The Beatles would say (1)

ShortBeard (740119) | about 9 years ago | (#13709024)

When I hold you in my arms and feel your trigger against my finger I know that nothing can do me no harm because.
Happiness is warm, yes it is, guuuuuuunnnnnnn! Bang Bang shoot shoot.

Happiness is individualised perception (5, Interesting)

drijen (919269) | about 9 years ago | (#13708808)

For many of my co-workers here in the bible belt, hapiness is letting their worries be "god's" worries. IF thats so for most religious people, i would cynically say that hapiness is letting someone else have repsonsibilty. The article seems to concretrate heavily on the religous "values".

I look it a different way:

When i die, i want to fly, sliding on my side at 100 MPH into the pearly gates, wearing a huge smile smile, yelling "WOW! What a ride!".

I hate for my life to be dull and unispiring - that for me is happiness.

I wonder if they did a case study on Adrenaline junkies, priests, and people like Linus Torvalds. Only then could i trust the science of happiness :(

Re:Happiness is individualised perception (3, Funny)

aaza (635147) | about 9 years ago | (#13708856)

"WOW! What a ride!"

"I wanna do it again!"
*Runs off to find the end of the queue*

Happiness is a serious problem (4, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about 9 years ago | (#13708811)


Anyone concerned with happiness might want to consider reading Happiness is a Serious Problem [dennisprager.com] by Dennis Prager.

He devotes an hour a week (called the "Happiness Hour") on his radio program [dennisprager.com] to the question of happiness.

Agree or disagree, he is thought provoking. His approach is also interesting in that he values clarity over agreement and has callers and guests from across the ideological / political spectrum.

Nice Guy (2, Interesting)

mysqlrocks (783488) | about 9 years ago | (#13708813)

Dogs who experience electric shocks that they cannot avoid by their actions simply give up trying. They will passively endure later shocks that they could easily escape.

Wow, sounds like a really nice guy. Isn't this cruelty to animals? Oh wait, it's for science so it's OK.

Re:Nice Guy (1)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | about 9 years ago | (#13708843)

Dogs who experience electric shocks that they cannot avoid by their actions simply give up trying. They will passively endure later shocks that they could easily escape.

Ah, shit... they're on to me! This bird's gonna fly!



SPLAT!

Re:Nice Guy (1)

ecumenical_40oz (914889) | about 9 years ago | (#13709039)

Probably wouldn't happen nowadays. The ethical requirements in psych experiments have changed a lot since the 70s, just look at the Stanford Prison Experiments.

Soma (2, Insightful)

Misanthrope (49269) | about 9 years ago | (#13708834)



Soma [huxley.net]

happiness (1)

edson at lies.cl (652479) | about 9 years ago | (#13708849)

true happiness is a formula you never know what ingredients, or how much or every one am a chronically depressed man, i blame love and bad windows installations i wish, she loves me back (and is not a jpg)

Socialising (1)

dorkygeek (898295) | about 9 years ago | (#13708850)

From the article:
When two American psychologists studied hundreds of students and focused on the top 10% "very happy" people, they found they spent the least time alone and the most time socialising. Psychologists know that increasing the number of social contacts a miserable person has is the best way of cheering them up. When Jean-Paul Sartre wrote "hell is other people", the arch-pessimist of existentialist angst was wrong.
Hurraaaay for that next students party. Make sure you wear a necklace with your home address (or whereever you want to get dragged when you can't walk for yourself anymore).

--
Windows is like decaf - it tastes like the real thing, but it won't get you through the day.

Re:Socialising (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709012)

When two American psychologists studied hundreds of students and focused on the top 10% "very happy" people, they found they spent the least time alone and the most time socialising. [...] When Jean-Paul Sartre wrote "hell is other people", the arch-pessimist of existentialist angst was wrong.

What a load of $#@. Are they trying to suggest that correlation is causation?

Some people are happy being around other people. Some of us are happy being alone. In this country, it's much easier to be around a lot of people than it is to be alone (for various social and other reasons). So it's no wonder the most happy people are the people who like being around other people.

If you guys would just leave the rest of us the $#@ alone we'd be happy too, $#@ it!

Happiness comes from within (3, Interesting)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | about 9 years ago | (#13708882)

Warning: Wishy-washy bullshit approaching. Proceed with caution.

Learn that you do not need anything except the biological neccessities for survival. Appreciate the present, but don't be considered with the future. Give up all attachments. Take only what you need to live.

The fact is, the more you have, the more you want. Do you ever see anyone without a TV lusting after a big screen plasma TV? Do you ever see someone without a computer lusting after the latest AMD processor? They spend time with those they care about, they read things, they think, they learn. Not only can you not buy happiness, buying actively makes you unhappy.

Why are prescriptive arguments moded up on /.? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709034)

I'm glad to see platitudes are being modded up on /. these days. All it shows are /.'s groupthink values more than any objective analysis of happiness.

"Learn that you do not need anything except the biological neccessities for survival."

Why are you posting on /. and engaging in higher thought processes and abstract conversation then? What has that to do with biological necessities?

"Appreciate the present, but don't be considered with the future."

Really? You don't care about the future? I'm glad you value your present so much as to not be concerned with the future. Strictly speaking as going by your first comment, survival machines worry about the future. Their biological necessity for survival as you put it is very much concerned with the future. Looks like you have a value conflict here eh?

"Not only can you not buy happiness, buying actively makes you unhappy."

Says who? Do you have any scientific evidence that states that the brain state is unhappy when buying products? Or are you just playing to the /. groupthink so you get modded up?

Re:Happiness comes from within (0)

JanneM (7445) | about 9 years ago | (#13709086)

Do you ever see anyone without a TV lusting after a big screen plasma TV? Do you ever see someone without a computer lusting after the latest AMD processor?

No - they are probably too busy lusting for the newest macrobiotic growing manual, or really wanting to go to that Extended Bible Camp - Now With 20% More Holiness! they couldn't afford this year.

The reason someone without a TV doesn't lust for a big screen is of course the same reason they don't have a TV to begin with - they don't have an interest in it. Same thing with a computer, or a car, or vacation travels. Or books. If you have no interest in reading, getting more books will not make you happy.

Or, of course, family time. Some people (I can't guess how many) aren't spending more time with "their loved ones" because they are introverted and feel they are spending too much time with other people as it is. They moved away from their home town in part to get away from all those people, and they are not married since they don't really want to live with someone else again after having had to do so for their entire childhood. Or they are married but feel people are best in small doses, and so they spend a lot of time at work or with solitary hobbies instead. And they are happy.

Point is, we aren't all the same, and what makes a happy and fulfilling life will differ.

Re:Happiness comes from within (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709090)

I agree completely. Have nothing in excess.

Where are my mod points when I need them...

We make up Silly things to get angry about. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 years ago | (#13708883)

Think about all the things that get us angry and upset. How many of them are really justified? People get angry at things that don't matter much at all. Like getting your old posts that are not read any more modded down, or the annoyance a person gets when they see a mistake in spelling or grammar. When the read an article basing Linux, Mac OS, or GNU. Even if every linux distribution company went out of business or just stopped and the Supreme Court declared that Microsoft is the only software distribution company in the US. Why should this stuff boil our blood? While it may effect us it is no major reason to get angry about it. If every program has to be made by Microsoft you get a job with Microsoft. If you can't get a job programming get an other job, if it pays less the make due with less. Most of the things that makes us unhappy doesn't effect our ability to survive comfortable. When you realize that things are not as bad as they seem and you know that life will never be perfect, you usually live a happier life. Don't strive for a Perfect life just a manageable one.

Re:We make up Silly things to get angry about. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708923)

WTF!!! You idiot!!! You suck!!! Learn how to use a line break every once in awhile!!! (anonymous in case mods don't get sarcasm)

Friends, money, a fucking big TV set (0, Flamebait)

snuf23 (182335) | about 9 years ago | (#13708892)

Who needs all that when you've got...

heroin?

(spoken in a Scottish accent of course)

Breasts (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708898)

As a guy, I am very happy when I play with my wife's nice large breasts. Sexist? No, I'm just a typical guy. Yum! ;) Why am I on Slashdot right now. Gotta go...

Happiness versus Contentment (4, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | about 9 years ago | (#13708899)

This article opens up new insight into the common perceptions of what makes us happy, such as having more friends and more money.

Interesting article...especially given my recent reading on the Hindu/Buddhistic concept of "detachment". These traditions prescribe detachment from wordly/materialistic desires in order to achieve contentment in life.

In short, anything that you're sufficiently attached to, that can give you enough happiness, can cause you as much pain when taken away. The solution therefore, is to follow a middle path practising detachment from all wordly desires, so as to walk along the middle path - neither be swayed emotionally toward too much towards happiness, nor being overly susceptible to sadness.

Happiness is a short lived emotion, (often accompanied by a potentially negative emotion of sadness) while contentment with what you have is usually a longer lived state of mind.

/Not overly religious...just a philosophy I like subscribing to...especially after a recent -ve swing in the state of affairs.

Re:Happiness versus Contentment (4, Informative)

mattjb0010 (724744) | about 9 years ago | (#13708944)

In short, anything that you're sufficiently attached to, that can give you enough happiness, can cause you as much pain when taken away. The solution therefore, is to follow a middle path practising detachment from all wordly desires, so as to walk along the middle path - neither be swayed emotionally toward too much towards happiness, nor being overly susceptible to sadness.

The four noble truths [thebigview.com] :
1. Life means suffering.
2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
4. The path to the cessation of suffering (aka the eightfold way).

:-( I am never happy :-( (1)

Zweideutig (900045) | about 9 years ago | (#13708902)

I have a Mac Mini, a fast server, a SUV. I am still always regarded as a jerk, and I am never happy. I am always in a bad mood. The only that makes me mildly happy is Big Mac sandwiches, donuts, and Mountain Dew. But it is temporary. Happiness is not an adult emotion, it is a child's ignorant emotion. Adults are all angry and demoralized like me. :|

Re::-( I am never happy :-( (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709054)

I used to be able handle wild blood sugar swings no problem, but not anymore. Junk food makes me feel like shit.

A stable ... (4, Funny)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 9 years ago | (#13708903)

... kernel.

Yep, that's the ticket!

Re:A stable ... (1)

kclittle (625128) | about 9 years ago | (#13708927)

How 'bout *any* piece of stable software? *Any* ...

Re:A stable ... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 9 years ago | (#13709088)

As a general rule, I can't ever fully trust any piece of software that I didn't at least partially write myself. Even then, my degree of trust tends to be proportional to my level of involvement. It's not that software I write is so much better than software that other people write. It's that if there's something wrong, I (a.) know why it is wrong, (b.) instinctively know how to fix it, often being able to find the line of code in mere seconds, and (c.) have only myself to blame for it.

For me, happiness is being self-reliant---a feeling of being in control of my own destiny, even if that control is illusory. Happiness is knowing that I'll do my best to get something right because if I care enough to do it at all, I care enough to do it right. Happiness is never having to put up with someone else doing a half-assed job of something causing me to have to either redo it or pay someone else to redo it. It's wiring my own audio cables because half the commercial XLR cables are wired wrong. It's taking things apart and fixing them instead of throwing them away even when it takes a while---even if the only benefit is knowing why they failed so you can avoid such products in the future. Happiness is knowing that whatever happens, you're prepared for it---that you'll make it through it---not because life can't throw you curves, but because in your mind, you already mapped out those curves a week before.

Maybe it's just me.

Wanting what you have (4, Insightful)

antiquark (87200) | about 9 years ago | (#13708904)

Happiness isn't having what you want, it's wanting what you have.

Happiness is..... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708908)

......lots and lots of pussy.

You'll have to trust me on this one.

Happiness != Pleasure (2, Informative)

PoignardSanglant (687707) | about 9 years ago | (#13708909)

The question "what do you have to do to find happiness?" is a Philosophy question, not something that can be answered through Science.

Drugs don't really make people happy. Happiness must come from within.

The Happy life is thought to be one of excellence; now an excellent life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement. If Eudaimonia, or happiness, is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence; and this will be that of the best thing in us.

-- Aristotle, "Nichomachean Ethics"

What I get out of that, is that people are happy when they have a sense of purpose and feel like they're doing "what they need to do". Of course, sometimes that is very bad for everyone else. But think about what happened to that guy from Fight Club, who was working at the convenience store but wanted to be a veterinarian.

Re:Happiness != Pleasure (1)

Omestes (471991) | about 9 years ago | (#13709031)

Drugs don't really make people happy. Happiness must come from within.

Looks like happiness, smells like happiness, must be happiness. I really don't buy that, it smells to much like the grounding of Kants ethics, where source matters more than ends/means. I don't like or buy the distinction. If it leads to happiness, it must lead to happiness, because how can something be indistinguishable from the real thing, but not the thing itself?

Not that I advocate drugs. But I got to run, got a wine tasting.

Money (3, Interesting)

dfn5 (524972) | about 9 years ago | (#13708921)

They say money can't buy happiness. However true this may be having the bill collectors call day in and day out certainly doesn't contribute to happiness either.

Whoever said... (1)

Zweideutig (900045) | about 9 years ago | (#13709000)

Whoever said money couldn't buy happiness... didn't know where to shop.

Re:Whoever said... (1)

joel_archer (124897) | about 9 years ago | (#13709029)

They say "You can't buy happiness." What they don't mention is you can rent it by the hour.

Re:Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709094)

You should have thought about debt before giving in and buying stuff you couldn't afford in the first place. Now it's too late, but don't blame the money, blame yourself!
 
-pat

So that explains it (1)

CaroKann (795685) | about 9 years ago | (#13708924)

We are designed to focus when we are under duress, and coast when things are going good. No wonder I work so much better when the boss is mad at me.

Krusty the Clown Sez (2, Funny)

Ranger (1783) | about 9 years ago | (#13708929)

"Kids, we're going to the happiest place on earth - Tijuana, Mexico!" 8F24 [wikipedia.org]

I'm so happy... (1)

piecewise (169377) | about 9 years ago | (#13708932)

Because Slash has finally started working on its HTML/CSS. I thought it would never happen. Now if it could only catch up to other CMSs and similar platforms.........

Stroke my ego (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708946)

+5 Funny makes me happy!

Oh yeah, also food, sex, and money.

Not necessarily in that order, though.

There's a big difference between temporary happiness and true satisfaction.

Can I get a little +1 Insightful too? Thanks!

Hapiness is simple (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 9 years ago | (#13708948)

Getting laid on a regular basis sure doesn't hurt... and if that doesn't work, try Prozac!

Re:Hapiness is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709063)

Bugger Prozac. If getting laid isn't working you should be trying Viagra.

Lasting happiness comes in one form only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708952)

I only have one, but I bet in every single Dalai Lama book, he says that the only way to lasting, true happiness is to help others who are in need. All other forms of happiness do not last (especially vengeful, selfish ones).

I thought about it for a while and looked into my own experiences in life (that's what Buddha says to do with his ideas before deciding whether or not to accept them), and I have to agree. Think about it for yourself.

I don't have the solution for happiness but... (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | about 9 years ago | (#13708958)

I have the solution for unhappiness: ask yourself as often as you can if you are happy.

(ok someone smarter than me said that, don't remember the name and maybe is not even relevant)

Biology of perception and belief (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13708961)

Along this lines, I will put in a plug for a cellular biologist named Bruce Lipton PhD [former medical school professor (University of Wisconsin) and research scientist (Stanford University School of Medicine)].

From his site (woohoo look at that it's dead atm sorry):
http://www.brucelipton.com/ [brucelipton.com]

His experiments, examining in great detail the molecular mechanisms by which cells process information, have revealed that genes do not in fact control our behavior, instead, genes are turned on and off by influences outside the cell.

These influences include our perceptions and beliefs. He shows that our beliefs, true or false, positive or negative, affect genetic activity and actually alter our genetic code. Dr. Lipton's profoundly hopeful work, being hailed as one of the major breakthroughs in the New Sciences, shows how we can retrain our consciousness to create healthy beliefs, and by doing so create a profoundly positive effect on our bodies and our lives.

We all somehow "know" that the mind/body connection is key to real health. Are you tired of trying to find the words that describe how the mind and body are related, and why their relationships are important for proper health? A renaissance in Cell Biology now provides the cutting edge science - real science - to prove how holistic health therapies work! Research scientist Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., introduces a long-awaited paradigm shift in the biomedical sciences. The new science will inspire your spirit, engage your mind and challenge your creativity as you comprehend the enormous real potential for applying this information in your life and in your profession.

I just watched his video presentation called "Biology of Perception" yesterday and it really dropped my jaw. He's schooled me on his research into the mechanics of the mechinations of cellular processes and corrected some errors in my perception. This does relate to happiness at the end of the train of thought, but you have to invest some time to understanding the mechanics to appreciate the conclusions.

I'll try to express it in a nutshell, but he's the expert, not me (and I'll make no claims to my ability to articulate anything coherently :).

It was believed that the cell's nucleus was the "brain" of the cell. But he's demonstrated this is a false assumption. He explains how the cells are input/output machines and triggers that change the state of proteins to get them to manifest work. That basically cells operate as machines based on inputs which are signals based on the filter our perception. So, based on belief and attitude (happiness or fearfulness), your cells will respond to this perception, including the ability to mutate and create to genes to try and survive in the perceived environment. He claims the cells can either function in a growth mode or a protection mode. So in general happiness = growth, fear/stress = protection.

One of the fascinating things, is the cell apparently already has all the mechinations it needs to function. He equates the nucleus to the gonads of the cell. When it needs to produce a new protein, that's when it goes into the DNA to extract the blueprint it needs. Another point he makes, is that humans have been so focused on the study of DNA, that they forgot about all the protein it was encased in, and would throw it away while they focused solely on the DNA. So for some gene to manifest (this goes into cancer as genetics etc), the cell needs some signal input, in order to manifest it. If you had a cancer gene in your family, you'd be born with cancer. It's not something that is latent and waits to pounce on you 30 years later. It may be more your negatively oriented lense that filters the world, a belief that you have a weak heart, or everyone in the family gets lung cancer, or whatever, that can cause cells to respond to these signals and manifest these mutations or negative/destructive genetic information.

So, that's a pretty mangled introduction. Sorry about that. But get the info from the source, he impressed me. And I think if I just read my description I'd say *cough* that's bullshit! what nonsense. So hopefully I haven't done a disservive my bastardizing his ideas...

"Happiness" != Pleasure. (1)

Captain Scurvy (818996) | about 9 years ago | (#13708963)

I think a lot of us tend to equate happiness with "pleasure" of some kind, which might be the wrong way to look at it. Think of drug addiction: eventually, you need the drug not to feel good, but to feel "normal." The "good feeling" always goes away, and the more you keep looking for it, the harder it gets to hold onto it. I think it might be fair to say that this idea of happiness is really a species of suffering.

Serenity, on the other hand, stays with you. When you stop looking for happiness, you'll have it. :)

Re:"Happiness" != Pleasure. (1)

mattjb0010 (724744) | about 9 years ago | (#13708974)

Serenity, on the other hand, stays with you.

Yes, I'm sure there will be a DVD release.

Old stuff. (1)

Marko DeBeeste (761376) | about 9 years ago | (#13708975)

Been a Journal of Hedonics since 2001. "Happiness: The science behind your smile," ISBN: 0192805584 Among others. Please try to keep up.

Happiness is as elusive (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | about 9 years ago | (#13708996)

as remembering our lives before about three years old.

Why is it we consider it normal to have "blacked out" our entire childhoods, when such a blackout is considered a symptom of psychosis?

Could our culture itself be psychotic? If so, what would be the symptoms of a psychotic culture? Frequent wars, famines, early sickness and death, personalized unhappiness, generalized misery, systematic abuse and periodic "ethnic cleansings"?

We are bigger than the culture that tries to confine and contain us, so we become folded, stapled and twisted when forced to "fit in."

Happiness is remembering our childhoods entire.

It is possible; I have done it.

We are not humans in search of a spritual experience, we are spirits out to find the human -- and happiness is nothing more or less than knowing this.

bah humbug (1)

cdn2k1 (908657) | about 9 years ago | (#13709004)

nuff said.

eh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#13709015)

Sarcams is a bloody joy and irony is jolly good too =)

no one is happy until they are dead- Solon (1)

bubbaD (182583) | about 9 years ago | (#13709019)

According to the historian Herodotus of Halicarnassus, in Lydia Solon offended Croesus when he was asked "Who is the happiest man you have ever seen?", instead of complimenting the king he said "I can speak of no one as happy until they are dead". It was recalling this story which, again according to Herodotus, saved Croesus from execution when his kingdom was overcome by Cyrus's invading Persians.

From wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solon [wikipedia.org]

Attitude (2, Interesting)

Bullfish (858648) | about 9 years ago | (#13709037)

Really, happiness is subjective, but it like so many emotions is largely controlled by your attitude. If you're a cynic and prone to expect the worst, you can expect that to colour your outlook. If you think about it (at least here in the western world), most of our problems are transitory in nature. Things you sweated bricks about 10 years ago have little impact to how you feel today. Things that seemed insurmountable change with perspective and distance. It's the in-the-moment gut wrenching that take a lot of us down. If you can keep things in perspective, even your worst problems will not drag you down to the mud. If you can stand your ground and hold your attitude, your sense of self respect will keep you above water.

Simple perhaps, but the saying goes that you are only as happy as you decide to be

Emotions by their very nature are transitory.

Stay away from scientists! (1)

FishandChips (695645) | about 9 years ago | (#13709041)

Happiness is what happens when we're doing something else.

Going to Church != Knowing God != Believing in God (4, Interesting)

heldlikesound (132717) | about 9 years ago | (#13709070)

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.

C.S. Lewis

Paradox (1)

Wazukkithemaster (826055) | about 9 years ago | (#13709071)

Science of Happiness is a paradox. Happiness is often defined as contentment, the end of a journey with a satisfactory outcome often inspires 'happiness' and thus i will answer with a pursuit of truth philosophy. From Pascal's Penses:
If we seek truth through reason we cannot avoid one of these three sects. You cannot be a sceptic or a Platonist without stifling nature, you cannot be a dogmatist without turning your back on reason. Nature confounds the sceptics and Platonists, and reason confounds the dogmatists. What then will become of you, man, seeking to discover your true condition through natural reason? You cannot avoid one of these three sects nor survive in any of them. Know then, proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself. Be humble, impotent reason! Be silent, feeble nature! Learn that man infinitely transcends man, hear from your master your true condition, which is unknown to you.
Listen to God

Happiness itself is a philisophical question as to whether or not it exists/is attainable. I saw somebody post something about the 4 noble truth's, hey thats a good start. Pascal uses God but really you can use any silly old thing you decide to but faith in. Whether it be your friends and loved ones or a favorite toy or blanket. Anything you trust enough can be a source of happiness (IMHappyOpinion).

The Answer to The Question.... (1)

Ratso Baggins (516757) | about 9 years ago | (#13709089)

Simply, "Follow your Bliss."

The senses of course (2, Insightful)

Twinbee (767046) | about 9 years ago | (#13709098)

To find a complete science of happiness, we'd need to find out a master formula to create/rate good music, a formula for art, one for thought and games (sport, console or otherwise), and the various other senses (touch, smell, taste).

Those are the fundamentals.
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