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The pursuit of happiness

  1. Jun 24, 2004 #1
    Thomas Jefferson wrote in the declaration of independance "the pursuit of happiness". To him was that all happiness is is a pursuit? Perpetually looking for greener pastures. Indeed Jefferson kept adding on and on to his home (Monticello), constantly trying to create the perfect home. Is happiness something that always lies just beyond our grasp? Something that will happen tomorrow if only I get that promotion, the perfect job, the perfect women?Does happiness lie in chemical structures in the brain? I once read a modern philosopher say that "happiness is dopamine" Does happines lie in a pill, such as serotonin reuptakes (Paxil, Prozac)? Roger Waters sang in the song "Time", "waiting for someone or something to show you the way". Is happiness just ordinary state of contentment and nothing more? I think most would agree that anyone who walks around constantly grinning and lauging is madman. I once read that people who appear to be happy all the time do so out of ignorance, ego or evil or possibly all three. I think most would agree that life has it ups and downs and "happiness' is a fleeting thing. A giggle at a joke, going down a waterslide on a hot summer day or a state of mind created by too many beers. I guess I will just count my blessing and settle on contentment.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 24, 2004 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Happiness exists in the present. In order to be happy in the future, you need to pursue happiness.
  4. Jun 24, 2004 #3
    Man may be happy, but this does not imply perfect happiness, for if a man were perfectly happy in all regards there would be no reason for him to act. Action has the purpose of exchanging one state of affairs with another deemed more favorable. If your state of affairs was such that it could not be improved upon, then it seems unlikely there would be reason to act (be it to build an addition onto a home, plant a field, go on a date, walk to a refrigerator and retrieve a drink or sandwich, and so on.) As a man must decide for himself what will make him happy, the process becomes individualized. If an individual is being controlled by the will of another then his/her ability to pursue decisions concerning their own happiness must become frustrated by the inability to act. I believe it is this freedom to act that Mr. Jefferson alludes to, as no doubt the colonists were feeling restricted.

    As I mentioned above, I believe happiness implies a state of contentment, yes.
  5. Jun 24, 2004 #4
    A long time ago I was delving into this issue of happiness and how happiness can be achieved.

    I came to the conclusion that :
    "Happiness is dependent on what you desire, and the ability to achieve what you desire" this led to :

    "If I desire less then I will be more happy"

    To cease desiring things that can not be achieved, a bit like the scerenity prayer often used by support groups.

    This obviously has a certain problem associated with it in that to enjoy life desire is needed other wise you cease to exist. But it is the quality of your desire that determines ones happiness.
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