Tuesday, May 16, 2017

--- Notes on happiness ---

A string of excited, fugitive, miscellaneous pleasures is not happiness; happiness resides in imaginative reflection and judgment, when the picture of one's life, or of human life, as it truly has been or is, satisfies the will, and is gladly accepted.

George Santayana

This sounds much like contentment to me but I can't think of a better description of happiness than when a person is content with their past.

I have a personal maxim: I should act so as to keep the number of regrets to a minimum at the end of my life. A near  corollary would be: If I make a mistake, I should fix it as soon as possible. I find that mistakes have expiration dates. If you wait too long, you simply cannot fix many errors. You might be able to ameliorate the consequences to some extent but never completely. And consequences are the problems.

Consequences are inevitable sequels to any action and they never stop. The classical idea of karma is that any action sends out ripples like a pebble dropped into water. A problem with this analogy is that ripples stop eventually, consequences never stop.

You want to maximize the good consequences (whatever "good" means here.)

A good test of the quality of actions - Coyote often says, "How does that work for you?" Yeah, I know that was a Dr. Phil saying, but it sounds better coming from Coyote. The idea is that, if you keep doing something and the consequences make you unhappy, stop doing it!

Again, the problem, as with so many philosophical categories, is that "happiness" is, at the final analysis, a word and, as such, is open to definition. I guess you can define happiness as "a warm puppy" but I'm thinking that what most people mean when they say "happiness" boils down to Santayana's version of happiness.

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