2013-07-02

Happiness As A Set Of Time Constraints

We all want what is best for us, individually.

In the material sense, this means that we all want all of our own material desires to be fully satisfied. There are only two kinds of people who ever succeed in this, however: Bajillionaires and hippies. Bajillionaires are able to accomplish this because they have more productive capability than desires. Hippies are able to accomplish this because they have fewer desires than they have productive capacity. (By analogy, there are two ways to avoid losing a footrace: by running faster than everyone else in the race, or by choosing not to run the race at all.)

In the philosophical or spiritual sense, this means that we all want to achieve a state of perfect knowledge or spiritual fulfillment. There are only two kinds of people who succeed in this: Geniuses and fools. Like bajillionaires, geniuses have more ability than they have want. Like hippies, fools have fewer wants than abilities in the intellectual sphere.

We can continue listing out the various kinds of utility and making the same observation again and again. The only people who will ever be satisfied in love are either those who greatly excel in their ability to love, and those who require very little love to be satisfied. The only people who will ever be satisfied in art are brilliant artists and people who are easily impressed by anything called "art." And so on...

In every aspect of life, "satisfaction" ultimately comes down to either being able to achieve everything you want, or to want far less than you could ever hope to achieve. None of us will never be able to satisfy all of our desires through pure productive capacity, because the time required to satisfy all material desires is so great that we are left with too little time to satisfy all artistic, spiritual, relationship desires, and so forth.

So we humans have developed many silly intellectual frameworks the purpose of which is to justify preferential treatment of one particular aspect of life. The principle of "enlightened self-interest" serves to justify a preference toward material desires and wealth-generation. The purpose of organized religion is to justify a preference toward satisfaction of spiritual desires. The purpose of romanticism is to justify a preference toward love. The purpose of Bohemianism is to justify artistic lifestyles. The list goes on.

Each framework exposes us to a different kind of poverty. Devoting yourself to one framework or another will result in feeling empty in other aspects of your life.

Therefore, the best approaches are those that result in something other than poverty. Even an utter lack of philosophy or intellectual frameworks will produce a better outcome than being overly dedicated to religion, money, or etc. This is why "the masses" are generally much happier than the more thoughtful people who spend a lot of time anguishing over the fact that the world would be a better place if people were more spiritual, or creative, or ambitious, or had a greater capacity for love, and so on.

The real key to happiness is finding an acceptable balance among all your competing desires. If the one and only thing that will ever make you happy is to be, say, a great painter, then you should certainly dedicate your life to being a great painter. But if you can live with being merely a good painter, then that frees up some of your time to earn more money, have more satisfying personal relationships, learn more about science, have a healthier body, or whatever else might make you happy. This, of course, assumes that you can also be satisfied with less than pure bliss in those other areas as well.