General Question

aneedleinthehayy's avatar

Do humans naturally and inevitably reject happiness, perfection, and all that is good?

Asked by aneedleinthehayy (1191 points ) March 11th, 2009

In relation to something Agent Smith said in the 1999 film, The Matrix, “But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.”
Do you think that we can only live, can only accept life, if their is something bad, something to complain about, to cry and want to die over?
Is it and has it always been, in our nature to never truly rejoice in the beauty and simple goodness in life and love?
Will we always continue to sabotage every happy, loving relationship, every free, undeserved education, every meaningful, glorious life, every chance we get, any way we can?
Can you sit there, and accept that you do this? Can we admit to ourselves that we must make ourselves purposely suffer, purposely always see the bad over the good in any situation to accept living?
Drama queens, the suicidal, committment-phobes, anyone who is alive and unhappy…Why do they, do we, do this?
There are people out there, who have found their bliss, whose lives are fullfilling and lived to the very extent and beyond. So very few.
Why is it so DIFFICULT to be happy?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

29 Answers

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Happiness does not lie in attainment, but in anticipation and projecting forward. It’s the planning, and preparation that really makes us happy. Daniel Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness” discusses the psychological and neurological processes that happen to create “happiness.”

ckinyc's avatar

I don’t think human rejects those things. Most of us failed to realize what we already have. I am too short. I am too tall. I wish I have blonde curly hair. I want straight black hair. We want what we don’t have. So we can complain about how life is unfair. I agree human are not happy animals but we all seek happeyness. The ones that found the way to make theselves happy are the smart ones not the lucky ones.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I have a hard time subscribing to the belief that most human beings would actively seek out a way to reject or sabotage happiness, relationships, education, and so many other aspects of their lives that make it complete. Unless someone is a masochist and they’re purposefully trying to bring misery upon themselves, there doesn’t seem to be any logical reason to do this to oneself.

I think that people probably anticipate hardship or struggles that they might encounter in their lives and try to plan accordingly on how to deal with it when it arrives or work on early prevention, but as a whole, I think there are much more happy than unhappy people in the world today. You do the very best you can to live life to the fullest and take care of you and yours to the best of your abilities.

loser's avatar

Personally, I would love some of that in my life!

ninjacolin's avatar

i don’t think everyone is unhappy but anyway i kinda think happiness is misunderstood.. and i think that leads to more unhappiness. i think we feel unhappy whenever we’re running dry on positive recent memories.

if you don’t have positive memories, you can’t be a happy person. when people neglect that goal, they start acting in ways that lead to negative memories. if you spend a lot of time creating these negative memories it will define your outlook in life later when all those memories decorate your mind. which in turn will affect your mood and your actions. so yea.. i think we perpetuate our own unhappiness.. or our happiness, if we prefer. :)

ninjacolin's avatar

definitely not though for “perfection”

i think all animals (us included) always act on the most rational and sound conclusion we are able to come up with in a given moment. unless it’s involuntary, of course.

meaning, i think things will continue to get better and better. as a species we seem to enjoy finding flaws in our logic, exposing them and correcting them over large periods of time.

..
...
and “good”.. no way..

i think you’re confusing people who don’t know better than you with people as a whole. many people do stupid things that we would never consider doing because we feel we know better. but they don’t… otherwise, they wouldn’t have done whatever stupid thing it was that they did. Clearly, these people assumed (wrongly) that there was an advantage available to them that, unbeknown to them, simply wasn’t worth it in the long run. these people aren’t stupid, they’re misguided. and in the next moment you’ll find yourself doing something so stupid that your spouse or your neighbor could complain about it saying that you’re an idiot too!

everyone’s pretty fricken smart. we just all believe different things are best for us and for all.. and some of us, i think, simply believe the wrong things.

mcbealer's avatar

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
– Marianne Williamson source

marinelife's avatar

I am glad I do not inhabit your bleak, hypothetical world. I reject your premise altogether. I do not think it is true.

SeventhSense's avatar

All religion springs from the premise that there is suffering and offers a solution. It’s still here so apparently we still have an attachment to it.

Harp's avatar

A large part of our problem is that we inwardly believe that happiness comes from getting all the factors in our lives- career, relationship, family, body, possessions, etc.- straightened out. But it isn’t so. Even if we do manage to get all these circumstances to fall into place temporarily, they can’t remain there indefinitely; even in those moments when everything is going well, we know deep down that it can’t stay that way, and this knowledge keeps us from ever being completely at peace with our lives.

A lasting sense of well-being can only come from accepting that circumstances are always changing, and that we need not allow our state of mind to be dependent on whether we like or don’t like the way things are. In fact, we need not even be concerned with whether or not we like the circumstances of our lives at all.

We do ourselves a disservice when we imagine that the optimum mental state is one of bliss. Bliss, if we ever find it, is a fleeting state. The only stable well-being comes from equanimity: seeing circumstances as they are, constantly shifting, coming and going, sometimes favorable, sometimes not, and making our peace with that fact.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Harp
Good point and like the second noble truth of Buddhism- Desire is the source of all suffering. Apparently it’s not the having it’s the wanting that trips us up- If only I had, If only they would, If only it might be.

cwilbur's avatar

I think many people work themselves into situations where they are at a local high point, and the only way to get to a better situation is to experience some pain before they get to a better point. It’s like people in not-especially satisfying relationships: there is probably someone out there they would be happier with, but to get there they have to go through the pain of a breakup and the uncertainty of finding a new partner, and the known not-so-good thing is better than taking the chance.

People are risk-averse and work-averse. This limits our chances at happiness.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think the humans who survived and multiplied were those who were able to imagine the worst and prepare for it. That may mean, however, that a lot of us are wired to look for where the problems might be and not to be content. In the past, that sort of hyper-awareness to what’s wrong may have been what kept our ancestors alive to reproduce. I can imagine we’re still evolving, so maybe that trait will outlive its usefulness and pass out of the gene pool, as other traits have.

Ria777's avatar

we do often purposefully choose options which cause us to suffer because, robot-like, we have programmed ourselves (or gotten programmed) to not think of the other options. a bit like having four or five dishes presented to us. our conditioning blinds us to the presence of more than one or two dishes or tells us not to choose them even if we do.

subtle but important difference. look up the works of Eric Berne and Transactional Analysis, in particular his book Games People Play. (his work has a creepy tone at times. that doesn’t invalidate his work.) this will provide you with better intellectual nutrition than the friggin’ Matrix. he basically says that we cause ourselves pain under specific circumstances because the alternative of feeling pleasure under those circumstances remains to us an out-of-reach goal.

apart from that, our lives present many challenges and we don’t always meet them. if you observe life in a region where war or famine goes on, you see a kind of extreme version of our day-to-day lives.

ubersiren's avatar

No. I think it’s more that most of us don’t know true happiness. So, when something comes along that society tells us should make us happy (money, love, beauty, etc) we reject it. We know there’s something else out there, we just don’t know what it is so we can’t even begin to look for it. So, we pick through the obvious stuff first. When that’s not good enough, we should look elsewhere, but seldom do people figure that out in a lifetime.

wundayatta's avatar

I have nothing to say about happiness, other than, if I don’t ignore it, I don’t have it.

I think we have happiness in relation to our expectations. If we expect something, and we have it, we tend to feel good about it, mostly (that doesn’t always work with me). If we expect something, and we don’t have it, we work towards it, thinking it will bring us happiness. It might, or might not.

Some people elide the whole thing, and say that happiness is in the journey. As long as I pay attention to the journey, and limit my expectations, I can be happy.

All of this is easier said than done. Like I say, if I ignore the whole thing, it’s not an issue. If I think about it, I’m unhappy. If I try to do anything about it, I fail.

Blondesjon's avatar

Before I answer this please define for me happiness, perfection, and this is the one i’m most interested in all that is good.

ninjacolin's avatar

^ so far the best, i can come up with is that all happiness can be defined as “positive memories.”

memories of things you’ve done
– “i cleaned the house”
– “i aced my exam”
– “I ate so healthy all week”)

memories of things that happened to you
– “Bob was really grateful to me for what i did”
– “My brother gave me flowers”
– “The cashier gave me an extra scratch and win card”

memories of your plans to create new positive memories
– “only 1 week left before my trip”
– “i’m going to have my kitchen redone”
– “i’m almost done my project”

both happy and crappy memories are inevitable in life.
the trick is to ensure that the ratio stays higher on the happy side… seems to me, anyway.

SeventhSense's avatar

@mcbealer
Thank you for the Williamson quote

Here’s another quote from this enlightened woman,

Secondly, we must mature beyond the belief that the thinking that got us into this mess is thinking can lead us out of it. “The problems of the world will not be solved on the level of thinking we were at when we created them,” wrote Einstein. We must realize that the mortal ego will not provide us with a solution to the existence of war, because it itself is the problem. Notions such as, “The Israelis have a right to defend themselves,” and “The Palestinians have taken so much abuse; what do you expect them to do?” are both insidious drivers of war masquerading as principled stands. They keep us attached to the very duality that is the root of separation and war.
http://tiny.cc/GWcfr

kevinhardy's avatar

when others acheive happiness or some form of it, people like to mees it up for the other person

LouisianaGirl's avatar

sometimes I think so

ronski's avatar

@aprilsimnel I agree with you in some sense.

In less technical terms, I think that humans are just animals, and in reality we are trying to survive. Each moment, would be a moment where we are trying to survive with a clan that is our family and that we very much so enjoy being around (maybe). If you were a man, you were a hunter. If you were a woman, you would have spent time with the other women making food. There would be small wars, there would be the search for shelter. There would be day to day struggles.

So, yes, we are built to solve problems. The problem now is that we are stuck in offices with people we probably don’t give a shit about, but we spend more time with them than our loved ones and instead of concentrating on building communities, we have to concentrate on paying bills. So, I don’t think we’re built for unhappiness, but I think we’ve created our own unhappiness.

I feel like the way society is set up, makes us unhappy. I didn’t choose this, and I’m not sure who did or how it works. It gives us a sense of security as a whole, but as the tiny individual, what are we surviving for? So, maybe as self-entertainment we create drama and situations to fill that sense of worth, that animal instinct that often doesn’t get filled. Perhaps, this is why many people take up extreme sports or like watching action movies, to fill a void that will never go away…

YARNLADY's avatar

My opinion on the question you have asked and the comments made is more like the projection theory that psychology talks about. For the individual that has that outlook on life, it can seem the only way, he projects his own feelings on everything around him. To the majority of people who have developed a more mature outlook will reject the premise completely.

kevinhardy's avatar

depends who you run into or are around, some people luv putting other people down , i am the victim most times, so help me if you can

Halliburton_Shill's avatar

At least some do. I don’t think you can generalize. But there are people who even write hate mail to the Happy Tree Friends cartoon artists.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Halliburton_Shill
Well…..Happpy Tree people are a natural scourge on everything that we hold dear as a society. They must be eliminated at all costs. There was only one happy tree man who could rock the jewfro

JellyB's avatar

No, i don’t believe that to be the case at all. Quite the opposite i think! I think (some) people are influenced too much by others, in determining whether they are happy or not. There is too much comparing going on between their lives and the lives of those they think have it better than them.

belakyre's avatar

I believe that happiness is something that we aspire for, to live for, and to strive for. Most people wait for happiness to come along, and when they do not get what they want (which is almost all of the time) they revert to depression. Also, those who strive for it may not find it, because its found in many unexpected places. A wave from a stranger, a smile from a co-worker, or whatever. Happiness comes in many forms, and I really do not see why people define their worlds in sadness. No matter how bad your situation is (whether you are a child with extremely overprotective parents or a victim of a genocide) there is always an “end to the storm”. The rain will not last forever, and there is always something to hope for.

josie's avatar

Happiness is the emotion that you reasonably should feel when you achieve or retain something that you value. It could be an object, a friend, or a sense of pride or anything that a reasonable person might regard as cool.
This is arguably the ultimate human goal.
This notion became a little confused when the “self esteem” movement got hijacked by the philosophical materialists ( I do not mean materialism as in consumption, I mean materialism as the notion that human beings have no mind, but are conditioned). They rejected the idea that happiness is an achievement, and embraced the idea that it could be engineered and given, like a gift. That idea took hold, especially among those who were incapable of achieving much of anything (I do not mean people with disabilities, I am talking about people who refuse to attempt to improve themselves). But the problem arises when people start waiting to be given their gift of happiness. They feel cheated, disrespected, ignored, frustrated etc. They act out.
There are enough people in our culture that are waiting for their gift of happiness, and acting out, that it is easy to get a sense that unhappiness is the natural state.
Happiness is the natural state, unhappiness is the aberration.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther