Saturday, November 1, 2014

My 30 day Happiness project - An introduction

Recently i read about the Paradox of Hedonism, simply put it means we do not or cannot actively pursue pleasure, it comes to us indirectly because of something we do. Happiness is not the aim, it is a side - effect is what i understood. ( I am equating pleasure with happiness, as many have, but that may not be true always. But for the sake of simplicity, what gives you pleasure, does make you happy)

Logic dictates to maximize happiness, we need to find out what makes us happy and do it. The paradox says, that this can be self defeating, because if i do something solely with the aim that i am  going to get happiness out of it, it will not make me happy! How?
Essentially, it means happiness is not the end result. We cannot make it the goal, it is but a by-product. A by-product of activities that we do, of hobbies we pursue, of the good we do. Focus on individual happiness will not make you happy!
A simplistic example would be as given by Alexander Erler; "Let us imagine a person who is obsessed by the idea of making her future certain. First, she will do everything to put enough money by, at the cost of renouncing many goods, the enjoyment of which would have given her pleasure: books, travels… Then, wishing to ward off any blow dealt by fate, she will spend the rest of her days trying to make her money yield a profit, by constantly inquiring about the best way of investing it, instead of enjoying life. In the end, she will have missed the happiness she had so scrupulously tried to build."

But haven't we been made aware of exactly the opposite with all our cultural and social influences - do what makes you happy? The ultimate goal is being happy? Pursue happiness, and success, wealth and health will follow?
Now, we say do not pursue happiness, you will never get it?

And to answer this question, is why i have started my 30 day Happiness Experiment.

I am going to note / photograph / write at length about the one thing that made me the most "happiest" in the day - i am not making any presuppositions and am going to be completely honest here. To think of that one thing today that made me the most happy. To define "most happy" is very difficult. I am just going to have to rely on my internal emotional system to give me indicators of being happy.
Why do i need an experiment of 30 whole days to understand what makes me happy? Try answering the question - what makes you happy? And try being really specific. It is quite a difficult question to answer - what makes me happy - the material things around me, i would believe, maybe loving relationships, but all of this is so vague. You cannot mold your life based on these answers. And so to search for an answer to the most basic question - what makes me happy, i am starting this project.

At the end of this, i believe i can possibly have an answer to these questions -

1. What makes me happy?
2. Does the hedonistic paradox exist? Whatever it is that makes me happy - do i actively pursue it in my day to day life, or does it just come to me as an effect of something i do, while not pursuing happiness? Is yes, what is it that i pursue that brings happiness and is there more of it i can do?

It is going to be quite a struggle to think and write about this, i can already feel it.
I am going to slip up on some days and some days i am going to be full of insights :)

1. Hedonistc Paradox
2. Image Source
3. Wikipedia - Paradox of Hedonism

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