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What is the highest form of happiness?

  1. Dec 6, 2004 #1


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    Now Spitzer and other philosophers managed to deduce happiness to four levels: The first level, is the happiness of sensual satisfaction, eg, I see the 15 oz steak, I eat the 15 oz steak, I'm happy. Though settling on this level of happiness leads straight to boredom, eg, I eat the steak, I'm happy, and I already forgot about the steak, now I need something else to stimulate me, something else to make me "happy", etc.
    Now we look at level two happiness which is pretty much self satisfaction and recognition, eg, I beat everyone in pool, I get recognition for being the best pool player in the pub, I'm happy. Now basing my life on this leads to three outcomes, one is I could always win at pool, I never loose, I become literally the best pool player world wide, now life becomes purely about winning, I have to win, if I don't win, I'll go crazy. Winning is all I strive for, and I become better than everyone else cause I always beat them, hence this leads to isolation, and depression for when I'm not bragging or being recognized. Now if I lost, and all you do is want to win and yet you always loose you begin to feel lower, angry and again, depressed cause you just can't win. Now if you draw, it leads to fear and parinoria, when in the match all you want is to win at ANY cost, and you fear tremendously of loosing.
    So these first two levels are flawed, but the next two lead to problems, some could say the fourth level doesn't even exist. First the third level, doing good for the sake of doing good, or in other words the transendentals (beauty (metaphysical beauty) truth, justice, unity and goodness.) When we have or see any of these things, it makes us happy. eg, I'm a social justice worker, I am doing good, providing justice etc, now if I base my life on this I would grow angry at the fact that even though my entire life has been based on lets just say helping people in Congo, I fix Congo, no more poverty or anything, I'm happy, but then I find out some other country is in even worse conditions and they just cconqueredcongo making it even worse, what was my life for, nothing, hence the fault in basing your life in level three (though isn't a fault, simply isn't an eternal happiness.)
    Now comes the fourth level of happiness and my question, does the fourth level of happiness exist. First off this happiness is basing your life on God, or in other words, like the social worker based Congo as his center, his purpose for justice goodness etc, my center becomes purely for God, my center becomes that of perfect justice, perfect truth, perfect beauty, perfect unity, and perfect goodness. Like Mother Theresa who said she saw God in all those she helped, she did it cause in everyone she helped she helped God, or so she claims. Now does this happiness exist?
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  3. Dec 6, 2004 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    I think happiness is brought by what helps one feel good. Simple? Not quite. The problem is the price paid for any given good feeling.

    Shoot heroin and it feels good, so is a heroin addict happy? While the heroin is kicking in, and for awhile afterwards yes, but what's the cost to alertness, health, income, times one can't find a fix . . . Beat everybody at pool, does that feel good? Yes, but what happens the night you don't beat everyone? Doing good deeds, does that feel good? Yes, and maybe there aren't many downsides to that . . . except, what about when you are alone, with no one to serve or no good deeds to do?

    My opinion is, if one could find a way to feel good without having to do one single thing, or insisting that reality (beyond comfort and safety) be a certain way, that would ensure happiness no matter what one is doing.

    Self-sufficient contentment, appreciation, joy, and gratitude for even existing . . . there is a lot to be said for the practical value of that. :smile:
  4. Dec 6, 2004 #3
    I think it was Plato who attributed the highest form of happiness to Aphrodite, to which I would concur. :wink:
  5. Dec 6, 2004 #4


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    Don't avoid the question, answer it.

    Les Sleeth sais: "Self-sufficient contentment, appreciation, joy, and gratitude for even existing . . . there is a lot to be said for the practical value of that."

    All these things are things to be grateful for and are all examples of what I've been talking about totally disregarding what I asked. People shouldn't settle for what ever happiness they have but should strive for the "perfect" possible happiness, now my question is does the "fourth level" happiness truly exist.
  6. Dec 6, 2004 #5

    Les Sleeth

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    My answer would be, if one can find a way to make service to God provide the highest level of "self-sufficient contentment, appreciation, joy, and gratitude for even existing," then yes. If it is boring, or ego-inflating, or self-righteous causing . . . no.

    See, I'm saying that feeling good absolutely drives us. Some people do what they "imagine" God wants and are really quite deluded in their happiness. It doesn't take much to get under their skin. I still can't get out of my mind Jerry Falwell's sickening smile as he talks intolerance on national TV.

    Personally I don't believe true happiness can come from actions or beliefs. I think a person has to find happiness within themselves, because it is through that freedom from the external environment and behavior that lasting happiness comes. Of course, one can make oneself unhappy through actions and beliefs. :wink:
  7. Dec 6, 2004 #6


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    Alright, happiness is not solely "feeling good", if it were it goes back to boredom, what makes me happy can't make you depressed, their is a standard, I've already outlined the standard of what leads to true happiness, level one two and three, and I'm asking if level four exists, I'm not asking "how feelings makes you happy" (though saying feelings makes you happy is wrong cause feelings are physical and happiness is metaphysical, so its logical to conduct that metaphysical caused happiness is greater than physical caused happiness (heroin, etc))
  8. Dec 6, 2004 #7
    Sorry, it was Socrates who attributed what I was saying to Aphrodite, and he was actually referring to Divine Madness as opposed to happiness.

    Excerpt from Arianna Huffington's, The Gods of Greece ...

    So I guess what we (I?) need to ask is if (divine) madness and happiness are not one and the same? I suppose in many instances they are, and in others, perhaps not.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2004
  9. Dec 6, 2004 #8

    Les Sleeth

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    Well, a lot of philosophers have disagreed with you saying happiness is not about feeling good. However, I wasn't talking about physical feeling, I was talking about how consciousness feels.

    There might be a standard, but how is it realized? Why did murdering women and having sex with their lifeless bodies feel good to Ted Bundy? Do you think it made him happy over the long run, or did it just satisfy something in the moment? His "standard" was determined by something decadent, and so he couldn't find satisfaction in goodness (at least not unless he found a way to deal with his problems).

    You won't understand my point unless you look at "good feeling" long term and non-physical. Some things feel good up front, and bad (or empty) down the road. Some things require constant pursuit to make one feel good.

    When you demand we talk about the "fourth level" how do I know if we aren't talking about someone's dedication to a cult? What is God? How can one be sure one is serving, or if one is just deluded?

    But here's the real point. Let's say you dedicate your life to serving God, and then after 5 years you are bored out of your mind. I have a friend who quit a lucrative career to work in a Christian shelter for the homeless. It nearly ruined him and his family because he couldn't support himself or them, and so he became disillusioned.

    So, would you continue to work at serving God if it made you miserable? Most people wouldn't. They want to feel good, be happy, be fulfilled. This question of a "fourth level" is not a simple one. There are issues of if it suits one's personality, and if one is even serving God or someone's concept of God bound up in religion.
  10. Dec 6, 2004 #9


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    Hmm, where do I start?

    You make more than a few good points there, when you use the example of Ted Bundy you must realize he was too occupied with his passion, he harmed himself in the long run and hurt his soul in the moment just for the sake of satisfying his momentary urge.

    When looking at catholism, they say that happiness comes from God, the closer we are to God the happier we are. (But I'm questioning catholism hence the question if this happiness exists.)

    Now the example of the one who worked and the shelter place, he was basing his life on third level happiness, not fourth, hence one of the faults with third level happiness. And when one has a family, working a payless job is not the best choice.

    And you must realize that only the first & second levels of happiness leads to boredom, some one truly at the third or fourth level of happiness would never get bored, cause boredom is caused by contentment, level three and four happiness are beyond contentment and are eternal.
  11. Dec 9, 2004 #10
    "We are constantly caught in the endless pursuit of the solution to our problems-the same solution which would be our undoing. If you are hungry, you get something to eat. If you are happy, then even this is a problem, and the solution is entertainment. Hence, if the world had no problems, people would go insane from boredom... and yes, that is a problem. The solution? You are living in the solution right now. I guess it can be phrased as "The solution to all our problems would be a problem... and therefore a solution."

    Think about it, everything that you do is done for a reason. Even delinquents have a reason for their actions that actually qualifies as a reason in the context of their belief system-just as your reasons qualify in the context of your belief system, but on a different level and comprised of different moral content. Just as those who do not believe in fate are destined to believe so, problems are what make human existence possible."
  12. Dec 10, 2004 #11
    hmmm....i think yes. are you referring only to god in the christian sense? if not I think it exists in many different ways for different people. for example, a yogi who has attained a feeling of contentment or enlightenment through practice and meditation. a human being who is open, in the moment, happy with who they are and what they have, non-judgemental, compassionate, patient, unambitious, has no major desires, strong with a sharp mind. not perfect, neccessarily, but balanced. content.
  13. Dec 10, 2004 #12


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    Futobingoro, there are many fallicies with what you say. "The solution to all our problems would be a problem... and therefore a solution." That is a contradiction cause if the solution is a problem then its not a solution. Happiness is the solution to life, to say we need a solution to happiness is a contradiction cause there is no fallacy in happiness, you won't seek entertainment if your happy cause entertainment brings about a form of happiness, so then if you are already happy you wouldn't need entertainment. If the world had no problem, people wouldn't go crazy they would cause problems simply cause if the world had no problems then it would be perfect, and since man cant' be perfect it means there has to be problems. Even the happiest person has problems, if they didn't they wouldn't be human.
  14. Dec 10, 2004 #13
    erm, GOD is.
  15. Dec 10, 2004 #14

    Peace and freedom, the power and ability to enforce them, and the goodness that comes from them.

  16. Dec 12, 2004 #15
    In the sense of what I was saying, the solution to all our problems would be a problem because we would then have nothing to do.

    Imagine having nothing to do.

    No, really, absolutely nothing.

    We have people like that today, they are braindead, or just dead.

    So, really happiness is only having a pleasurable attitude while going about the problems of life, not an absence of problems.
  17. Dec 21, 2004 #16
    happiness is detachment from thigns of this world, as the buddha would say. The steak material, the winning pool, material reward, the doing good is probably for selfish reasons as well, like beeing recognzied as a good person.

    on a diffrent note, apathy is bliss
  18. Dec 23, 2004 #17


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    Why is having nothing to do a problem? It is only a problem because of the feeling of boredom that results from doing nothing. However, if the problem of boredom was solved... meaning humans didn't feel boredom when there was nothing to do, then there'd be no problem.
  19. Dec 23, 2004 #18


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    These are only flawed if the wrong amount is received. Maybe happiness is getting the right amount of each.

    I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
    I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
    I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
    I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
    I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
    I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
    I wish you enough 'Hellos' to get you through the final 'Good-byes.'

  20. Dec 24, 2004 #19


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    You seem to be advocating a complete lack of feeling, not happiness.
  21. Dec 24, 2004 #20


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    No. Just advocating a lack of boredom. Plus, I was just pointing out the contradiction of saying that someone would be bored if all problems were solved. If they feel bored, then obviously there's still a problem, namely that the person is bored. If there are no problems, then the problem of boredom is gone.
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