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June 16, 2008

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Peter

Great article, Kent. While I do think its very important to have goals and personal values and to constantly seek self-improvement, I do think the pursuit of happiness (especially when tied to one's monetary wealth) is a highly flawed pursuit. I strongly believe that happiness will follow the individual that seeks good health, great friendships, solid family relationships, a meaningful career, spiritual peace, and fun and rewarding hobbies. Today, I live in a bigger house, drive a nicer car, have a larger salary and have much more money tucked away in my retirement and investment accounts...and overall, I don't feel any happier than I did 10 years ago. Very happy then, very happy now!

The Financial Philosopher

Great, Peter! I'm glad to hear that!

I have observed that most people are no more happy or no more miserable than they were in the past, regardless of how their monetary positions have changed.

As an alternate view, I know a few people who actually have LESS than they did before but they are MORE happy now than they ever were before!

Thanks again for the comment...

Kent

Oz

A wonderful professor of Islam once related to me how the nature of humanity is forgetfulness and that we need reminders. Of course then it's no wonder that we have to relearn the wisdom from the past. That's not entirely a bad thing to experience, however. =)

My lack of much life experience limits from knowing much about the workaday world and the pursuit of happiness that people try to find through that. I've had the experience of a 9-5 job and it was all right but the happiness I've found in the last few years in high school and college were working together with people, enjoying good company, and experiencing wisdom, particularly through Buddhism and philosophy. Not sure how this happiness business goes around, but it certainly doesn't seem to involve excessive monetary and material wealth.

There's a saying by the venerable Ajahn Chah: "Joy at last to know there is no happiness in the world." If you have the time, here's a dhamma talk about the same thing.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ex5a4a40k6s

Thanks again for your post, Kent!

The Financial Philosopher

Oz:

The quotes from the Danish people in my post were College students. They presented themselves as individuals who have the same joys and pains as anyone else in the world; however their path to happiness is made easier because they have what most others do not have... enough!

I am sure your study of philosophy will not remove the challenges you will face in life but it will make them a bit easier to face and you will embrace the learning opportunities that can be found in the challenges...

Cheers...

Kent

fiony

interesting!

jimcos42

The Dharmic traditions point out quite clearly: The search for happiness produces the suffering (which is diffrent from pain) of unhappiness. All suffering is either about remembering the past or desiring (often with worry or concern) a particular future.

But in this moment, and this one, and this one, I am neither happy nor unhappy. I just am. None of us live in the moment. We're always about the past or the future, and thus always in some kind of suffering.

Suffering is the price I pay to bring my baggage on board to the flight of my life.

The Financial Philosopher

jimcos42:

As always, I appreciate your philosophical outlook.

I do agree that "self-help" is often counter-productive and hyper-intentional.

Depending on how you define the word, "moment," I only partially agree, however, with your statement that "none of us live in the moment."

In general, I would tend to agree that most of us spend our time either in the past or future and our present state is influenced by one or the other but I believe we can make a conscious effort to "be here now."

I can worry about my financial future, remenisce about yesterday or consciously decide to listen and really tune in to my 3-year old son explain to me how his toy works.

Daniel Goleman describes this as a trait rather than a state and is called "mindful attention to the present moment." This trait certainly takes practice and, hopefully, can be turned into a habit...

Thanks for provoking thought, as always...

Kent

Charles

Webster's Definition of being content: "happy enough with what one has or is; not desiring something more or different; satisfied"

I believe that some degree of unhappiness and not being totally content is necessary for survival and progress.

If one did not remember the unhappiness of past experiences of hunger pains, and did not worry about future possibilities of starvation, one would starve to death sitting in his cave being totally content. Living in a cave also has its drawbacks. You are not totally sheltered from the environment, and you have to occasionally fight off bears and lions who are wanting your cave.

Living in my modern house, I have the best shelter from the environment of any generation before me, and I have not had to fight off any bears or lions lately. I guess that I am happy and content that my ancestors were not so happy or content about living in caves!

Charles

The Financial Philosopher

Charles:

I agree with your point that we may better know joy if we have known sorrow.

Of course, willfully allowing ourselves to suffer and perpetually lowering our expectations in order to make ourselves "content" is a bit sadistic.

Everything does have a balance...

"There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." ~ Carl Jung

Thanks for your thoughts...

Kent

budding gardener

"If it is happiness that we wish to find, how can we find it if we do not really know what it is?"

I do have more money now than I did ten years ago, and I am happier than I was then. Not because I have more money, but because of what that money enables me to do. I can buy time with it. I am free to do the things that make me happy. But having money alone wasn't enough. I then had to figure out what it was I really enjoyed doing.

I spent a lot of years on school (studying philosophy, among other things), and built up a huge amount of debt. Having money has enabled me to free myself from that debt, and the stress that came with it. It two months I will be debt free, and am considering taking a job that pays less, in order to have more time and energy for things that I truly enjoy in life.

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