The Pursuit Of Happiness

What is happiness?
Drinking alone

At a recent session with my psych-girl, she closed with three “suggestions”:

  1. Lower your expectations
  2. Reduce your drinking
  3. Censor yourself

Is there a better prescription for unhappiness? Or is it one for happiness?

Christopher Hitchens

once said: It’s not true that you shouldn’t drink alone; these can be the happiest glasses you ever drain.

After his death, at 62 of cancer, Hitchens has been lauded as a great thinker and philosopher
Hitchens’ quotes

I agree. It’s just you and your mind. Wondering. Not dissimilar from walking alone in the wilderness. Wherein you wonder, too.

It’s okay to be alone. It’s good for the soul. But …

But What?

Being alone is not easy. It’s hard. Moreover, we (humans) did not evolve in that context. We are ill-equipped for living without social support – affiliation. We are highly social creatures/beings/animals.

And So …

Here is an excerpt from my 2014 novel, Overcast: The Unauthorized Biography of Sunshine Rodriguez. I might have titled it: The Pursuit Of Happiness.

Some interesting questions. One is: What is the point of anything, if not love? In the post-modern, Western world, natural selection has become irrelevant, due to social, technological, and educational advances. Everyone has the opportunity to reproduce, and almost all babies survive to reproduction age. The only selection process is personal and sexual — who mates with who and then whether or not to reproduce. It’s a free choice. But now the word “free” is illusory because of personality. Do you really know who you are? Can it be called a free choice if in fact you have been deceived, either by someone else or yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as to what it is you want. What’s important in life? Your Life? Sunshine?

Look. Happy people don’t start wars. Happy people don’t steal and lie and rape and murder or kill themselves. Do they? Happy people don’t often get sick. Happy people are eager, loving, creative, joyful, conscientious, caring, empathetic, kind and allowing. How did this happen? This mess we find ourselves in – all the unhappiness, loneliness, alienation, sickness … not to mention, constant state of war? You came into the world with a personality predisposed toward particular points of scale. More or less extraverted. More or less open. More or less conscientious. More or less agreeable. More or less neurotic. And then what happened? Yes, we need all types of people to provide contrast and choice … to give the group, the band, the tribe alternatives to consider, options so as to be able to master whatever problems and pressures the environment throws at us. The group. Diversity is a good thing. There is more variation within a group than there is between groups. Look it up. IN fact, diversity is a survival mechanism. So why are people so miserable to the point of theft, murder, and suicide. There is far more death within groups than between groups. It’s senseless. Isn’t it?

Happiness can be stolen. We come into the world predisposed towards love and happiness, but something happened or happens and now there are truly unhappy people who lash out to gain relief, or lash inward and self-destruct. In both cases, the misery expands. It doesn’t have to be that way, I think. If we take the time to get to know who we are – what our strengths and weaknesses are, and make decisions based upon that — Where to live, what to do. What we like and don’t like. If we choose freely and wisely, especially with whom you mate … If only … Sunshine.

Earlier in the story, Joe Burns (the protagonist), while drinking, makes his case for Barack Obama as the best choice for POTUS. It’s February, 2008. At the Colorado caucus he outlines what is (in his opinion) the operational definition of happiness. There are six components:

  1. Good heath (mental and physical)
  2. Strength (Ego identity)
  3. Congenial Friends and voluntary affiliations
  4. Sufficient resources (Energy, food water, shelter)
  5. Pleasant environment (The Garden)
  6. Comfort and luxury (Shopping, restaurants, furnishings, entertainment, art, etc.)

The Point Is:

The current Covid-19 pandemic eliminates all the elements, or components, of happiness.

We are at once under severe threat of death, and at the same time, deprived of all the ingredients that foster happiness. Depending, of course,  on your health and well being status.

Reality

is being questioned. Who can you believe? What do you know? What ought you do? Is happiness still an “unalienable right”? Granted by your “creator”?

In Other Words

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