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Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-01-2007, 06:15 AM   #1
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Happiness and why we do the things we do

There are a gazillion books, seminars, talk shows on "how to be happy" or "Why aren't you happy" etc. I ride the rail/subways sometimes just to study and sometimes talk to people...its very interesting. MOST people are NOT happy....with anything ! They can have a "good" job, husband, wife, girl/boyfriend (or both), lots of money, nice house (perhaps not a home), but there's something missing. Relationships are not whole, they're sort of fragmented loose associations. The theme of today seems to be "Its About Me".....I've got mine, you get yours...I'm not sure where this all is going to take us as a society.Most of us do things BECAUSE this is how my familiy's always did it...Is there ever a "tipping point" in that paradigm
Other "why" questions are:
1) Why do we believe the way we do
2) Why do we marry or stay marry
3) why do we eat and drink what we eat and drink
4) why do we work hard for things or not work hard
5) why do we smoke or use cocaine or drink excess alcohol
6) Why do we committ adultery/fornicate
7) Why do we believe our ministers and clergy
8) Why do we tithe as opposed to buying a burger for the homeless
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-01-2007, 11:23 AM   #2
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Why do we spend so much time trying to understand life when the purpose is to simply live life? 8)
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-01-2007, 12:23 PM   #3
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

From the time you are born you are subjected to conditioning, you are conditioned to act/think a certain way, live a certain way, its all mapped out, so we are lead to believe.

Most people are not happy, they dont know why, they cannot put their finger on it, but personally i think the real underlying problems are that many people are disconected from society and natural living. We are expected to compete with each other, we are told that we must constantly strive for something better of for more.

We are told that to be "successful" we have to go to school, to get a good job so we can get a mortgate and buy stuff. We are not taught that there is an alternative and easier way to live one's life.

People are discontented because they spend most of their lives in the 9 - 5 cage and live in isolation, many turn to drink/fastfood as a way of but many dont know any other way of living so they accept their lot in life. We are not tribal anymore, we live in houses isolated away from each other.

The soul isnt nourished anymore. Our only hope is to see "civilisation" for what it is and build up the resources to brake free.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-01-2007, 01:16 PM   #4
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Arc,
What is to "simply live life"
F
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-01-2007, 03:00 PM   #5
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco
7 ) Why do we believe our ministers and clergy
8 ) Why do we tithe as opposed to buying a burger for the homeless
#7 - I usually don't...they're humans...I don't believe or trust them anymore (or any less) than I do other humans!

#8 - I much prefer to put my money where I think it will help the most...not into some religious organization. I've dined with a lot of homeless/down-&-out people over the years.....on my dime!
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-01-2007, 10:24 PM   #6
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

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Originally Posted by ferco
Arc,
What is to "simply live life"
F
My definition is to try to enjoy each day and not worry about anything. Easier said than done.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-02-2007, 11:07 AM   #7
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferco
I ride the rail/subways sometimes just to study and sometimes talk to people...its very interesting. MOST people are NOT happy....with anything !
There might be a systematic error in your approach - it could be that happy people prefer not to ride subways.
I can tell that all cyclists I meet on my bicycle commute (to be honest it's only 3-4 of them) seem to be very happy.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-02-2007, 12:40 PM   #8
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by Arc
My definition is to try to enjoy each day and not worry about anything. Easier said than done.
I think your definition of "simply live life" is excellent! It is much easier said than done, but when it comes down to it, especially if you are faced with a few unpleasant "challenges" in life, it's the only way to live!

We can't wait until everything is perfect, settled and resolved to be happy.

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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-02-2007, 01:19 PM   #9
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor
There might be a systematic error in your approach - it could be that happy people prefer not to ride subways.
I can tell that all cyclists I meet on my bicycle commute (to be honest it's only 3-4 of them) seem to be very happy.
Except the messengers - they are crazy and stressed.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-02-2007, 04:27 PM   #10
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

if you are not happy with yourself neither good clergy nor good fornication will make you any happier.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 09:17 AM   #11
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Most people that are unhappy are this way because they spend too much time dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. Their reality consists of compulsively replaying "mental movies" that happened yesterday and doing the same with what might or could happen tomorrow. They forget to live in the present. They don't appreciate what life and nature have given them. The past is not reality, nor is the future reality. Nothing that happened in the past can happen now, while nothing in the future can happen now. The only thing that is real and can be appreciated is the present moment.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 01:32 PM   #12
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

how do you stop playing "mental movies" of the past when such thoughts run like an automatic train through one's head?
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 01:40 PM   #13
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

I like RS's reference to being in the present, the common sense of time is somewhat an illusion, there is only the present although it is common to have barriers to being in the present.

I prefer to address the happiness issue as an internal state. It is not based on what we have or even what we do but just how we are inside. The easiest prediction of happiness in retirement is happiness before retirement.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 01:43 PM   #14
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Stop competing? That's possible if and when the majority of young ladies I meet drop the criterion that the guy must have a good job.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 01:56 PM   #15
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
how do you stop playing "mental movies" of the past when such thoughts run like an automatic train through one's head?
Claire, I would suggest looking into meditation. I have found that it helps turn down the volume on the 'Wrigley’s Gum Commercials' in my head. I don't know if the flow of mental images can be turned off but the volume can be turned down to the point where there is some peace & quiet and less reactiveness to outside events.
Another thing that works for me is ...surprise...kayaking. I just get to relax and go with the waves (if I don't relax then I get planted). Running used to do that for me. My wife seems to relax & get centered while knitting.
But you have taken the first step, which is to realize that mental tapes do seem to be constantly running, they are not 'who you are' and there really are ways to reduce them and the effect they have on your thinking.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 02:28 PM   #16
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
how do you stop playing "mental movies" of the past when such thoughts run like an automatic train through one's head?
Surfing.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 02:57 PM   #17
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Yup - it's called 'flow' and usually happens when you are focusing on the moment in either some challenging task or thought or hobby/etc. That's what many of the pro-athletes and other super-stars experience when they are 'performing' - I bet Tiger Woods would be off the range dial if there was a 'flow' meter. The key is to try and maximize that 'flow' time to balances the stressors.

For me snow skiing, knitting, reading, cooking, analyzing an interesting problem, studying things can introduce 'flow.'

I believe Dr Seligman has written a lot of books about happiness and what makes people happy - very interesting subject - what's really interesting is that I am now studying Aristotle's Nichamachean ethics and he says the same thing about happiness.....so, we haven't really changed all that much in 2000+ years - still human.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-03-2007, 05:30 PM   #18
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by yakers
I don't know if the flow of mental images can be turned off
well put yakers. indeed, one of the realizations that comes from the type of meditation whereby you work towards quieting the mind is that, for practical discussion, it simply does not shut up. how annoying funny is that? you can, as you suggest, slow it down and become more comfortable with it, even control some of the channels. but when you have completely ceased to find thoughts arrising you will, for practical purposes, have ceased to be. so there is some comfort to be taken in those mental movies, especially as ensurance that yer not yet dead.

there are experiences of going out of and coming into being but that's a whole other discussion. safe to say meditative devises, whether sitting, walking meditation, hobbies or really any activity leading towards knowing & understanding yourself will make you happy, even if low self-esteem makes that hard to believe.

after learning to quiet the mind and after becoming comfortable with the appearance & flow of thoughts, for experienced meditators who are psychologically grounded, it might be interesting to try to follow from where the arrising occurs. from there you might find within boundless other experience which would suggest that you'd likely be pleasantly surprised to see how really amazing we are. or at least, that's what i read somewhere.
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-07-2007, 09:21 AM   #19
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Quote:
Originally Posted by claire
how do you stop playing "mental movies" of the past when such thoughts run like an automatic train through one's head?
1. When you realize that it's just a habit, not some present danger, that can help you distance yourself and give your poor body a break instead of physically reacting (fight or flight/adrenaline rush). I sometimes realize that I am worrying out of habit, and then I'm able to just let it go.

2. Things like cognitive therapy can really help - that at least helps you "argue" with the mental movies and not let them strongly influence your emotional state. I mean you may be playing these as a way of trying to manage worries and fears that you have - kind of a coping mechanism gone awry. Here's a classic easy reference on Cognitive Therapy - http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Good-H.../dp/0452261740

It's also amazing how physical activity can quiet the mind. I find yoga to be amazingly effective in this regard. It's a great thing to learn how to do. Great for both body strengthening and healing and for calming and focusing the mind.

Audrey
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do
Old 01-07-2007, 09:49 AM   #20
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Re: Happiness and why we do the things we do

Here's a NY times take on happiness research.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/07/ma...html?th&emc=th


Quote
Positive psychology is popular with educators because if happiness is something that can be learned, it can be taught. And because being happier seems to have positive long-term effects not just on well-being but also on health and life span. In one often-cited study, researchers at the University of Kentucky analyzed the essays novices born before 1917 wrote on entering the School Sisters of Notre Dame and correlated them to the nuns’ life spans. They found that 9 out of 10 of the most positive 25 percent of the nuns were still alive at 85, while only one-third of the least positive 25 percent were. Overall, their study showed positive emotions correlated to a 10-year increase in life span, greater even than the differential between smokers and nonsmokers.
unquote
It's a long but interesting article, and it covers current research.
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