Is the happiness mindset consistent with happiness?
The purpose of this post is to explore the happiness mindset with a different set of lenses. Different to what? Different to ‘everybody’ else – meaning ‘the majority’. This is not advice to any person. Hence there is no guidance on how to achieve a better alternative, or a more fulfilled life.
On posing the captioned question, loads of folk will be Googling ‘the happiness mindset‘. They’ll instantly be presented with a book by the same name, various articles and video on how to achieve happiness. There are a few other publications that give perspectives on the pitfalls of the happiness mindset.
But wait – most of these publications have not even defined what they mean by ‘the happiness mindset’. It’s the usual – people rush off to debate or act, without actually knowing what they’re talking about.
Social media conversation
I recently encountered ‘the happiness mindset’ in one individual which brought home the concept, so I’ll describe it with a few points below.
My sole purpose in life is to be free from pain and be happy
You are the millennial,and l am the analog and seems to be on the polar opposite.
U the datawhore and l the paper tiger ??
But as a citizen of the planet l feel at home amoungst the myriad of faith/ belief systems.
I didn’t respond to that drivel. I kept my thoughts to myself, that ‘everybody’ is entitled to feel part of some herd or mass movement. But some who did the speed read thing, missed that ‘l’ was used for ‘I’, in the above three quoted sentences.
It’s that need to feel at one (i.e. at home) with lots of people – a powerful unconscious driver of cognitive expressions. Like on LBC radio the other day, some chap made a point and added, “It’s not just me saying so; lots of other people have said it too.” What does that mean? It means he’s not alone and is alluding to the power of the crowd behind his assertion (whatever it was). He’s satisfied and he’s happy. If you’re alone in your opinion, discovery or assertion – you have a high probability of being ‘wrong’, as Einstein discovered. Well, he was of course right but in the early stages the scientific community basically poured scorn on his discoveries.
What does it mean?
Happiness is loose word. It can mean loads of different things:
- Pleasure or being pleased.
- .. and so on.
The original concepts on happiness were well connected to hedonism – the pursuit of pleasure – and I’m not about to do your reading for you. But in today’s world happy and happiness can refer to any state of mind that is ‘pleased’ or indicates agreement. So for example people often ask “Are you happy with that?” Well, you may not truly be, but you say ‘yes’ to indicate agreement. One has to keep in mind that ‘disagreement’ is not allowed in ‘The Empire’ – and people who strongly voice disagreement are to be labelled as ‘unhappy’, aggressive or with other unsavoury adjectives.
Stupid: Yes – you are aggressive!
CW: What on earth are you on about?
Stupid: You confront people at every turn. People are afraid to say anything!
CW: It is true that I confront loads of people – and they should be afraid to say anything around me.
Stupid: That means you are a bully!
CW: Nonsense! The people who think or feel like that are the idiots who want me to tolerate their drivel. Well sorry – as Hitchens said, “I will cut out your thesis with a spoon!“.
Stupid: I don’t know Hitchens but he sounds like an aggressive man. You worship him, obviously!
CW: Yes he was perceived by many of the idiot variety as aggressive. He was most loved by those who knew that he would rip apart nonsensical statements – with no aggression at all. I worship nor follow anyone.
Stupid: How could he do that without aggression?
CW: His mind and thinking were razor sharp. Idiots only had to rub on the razor to find that they would bleed.
Stupid: That’s very aggressive.
CW: No – you fool. He did not display aggression. It was the idiots who aggressively rubbed on him and found themselves diced up.
Stupid: So he razored them – that’s aggressive.
CW: They razored themselves!
Stupid: What’s this got to do with happiness?
CW: Probably very little – you were the one to take off on a tangent about aggression. Which reminds me that I need to cage you now before this goes much further. Off you pop!
The above interruption led me to have a lie down for a few hours. Some do not understand how my mind is tortured.
Right – moving on now, happiness is still largely about pleasures. Hence it is easy to see how (some) people get hooked on video-gaming, social scenes, sex-oriented clubs, mind-altering substances, wild spending, and endless hours on the likes of WhatsApp, Netflix and Facebook. One could easily substitute ‘enjoyment’.
But hold on I’m not here to argue that life should be devoid of pleasures and enjoyment of things. That would be positions akin to asceticism or stoicism. I’m NOT promoting that. I am arguing that the so-called ‘happiness mindset’ is derived from a biological drive towards pleasure, which is then exploited by a socio-economic system. As a result of the latter, people live their lives in an impoverished way. It’s basically the following generally for those who work:
- Awaken an hour or two before the time to start work.
- Spend time and money getting to work(or preparing to work).
- Do a long day which isn’t really 9 to 5.
- Commute back to home – usually another hour or two.
- Barely have time for family after work – especially if after a meal it’s TV, Netflix, Facebook or whatever else.
- Hug the kids and hurriedly read a bedtime story, to say ‘you’ve done the job’. If no kids, feed and stroke the cat or dog.
- Save up for holidays then spend money, on the idea that one needs to recharge their batteries.
- Back to the grind. Repeat the above for a few years.
- Get that home/house, and retire with a pension.
- Die within 5 years of retiring (read the stats on this – I’m not saying ‘everybody’. Chrysst!].
And because ‘everybody’ does the above, that’s the norm. Some accept it – never question it – because that’s what their parents, grand parents and great grand parents did. Of course people who do not work at all, find different routines. But they to are aiming for maximum happiness within their means.
In my alternative opinion the happiness mindset is short-sighted, and self-restricting – predetermined by biological and social forces and further programmed within an economic framework. I don’t expect anybody to agree with me – not that I am in search of agreement. Relative to what has been widely agreed as a set of norms, there is no underachievement. There isn’t – there couldn’t – if everybody is doing the same set of things. Norms are probably worse than myths. You can’t challenge a norm, because there is no alternative reality or evidence to reference. It’s like challenging the colours of the rainbow by saying ‘colours don’t exist’.
When people think about pleasure they may conceptualise:
- Nice walks in a park on a summers day.
- Time at a beautiful beach.
- Blissful worship of Gods.
- Sex and orgasm etc.
- .. and so on.
Positive impacts tend to be more in focus on most things. In another setting I showed how ‘teamwork’ was seen mostly in a positive light because ‘everybody’ believed that once you have teamwork there will be success. Of course, everybody believes that if you tell people about teamwork they’ll work together more productively. It’s not true. The point is that few people look at the negative aspects of teamwork, because of the hypnotic mantras that are sung to ‘everybody’.
So too with the pleasure-seeking aspects of the happiness concept – see some positive impacts below:
- Greater motivation.
- Better chance of satisfaction.
- Increased productivity.
Some of the negative impacts of pleasure-seeking may not be fully appreciated e.g.
- Seeking illegal of mind-altering substances.
- Revenge – which can be very satisfying or pleasurable.
- Sadistic endeavours and terrorism.
- Idleness and laziness.
There are common factors that can cut both ways – to positive and negative impacts. A sadist for example would be quite ‘happy’ causing suffering to ‘every’ and anybody.
Avoid looking at the following if you don’t want to think further about the happiness mindset.
An alternative mindset
As I do not have a happiness mindset I can say what the experience is like. Just to be clear, not having a happiness mindset does not mean one is in search of unhappiness or wishes to cause others unhappiness.
My experience is that people are often surprised or even shocked:
- When I take the long and hard route towards some end (this does not mean that I do this all or most of the time).
- When I turn night into day on some important issue, entirely regardless of pay or reward.
- That I would bear the above suffering, at all.
- To learn that they don’t get their way when there is an important principle to be upheld.
- That I do not give a flying flamingo about running the risk of destroying relationships.
- That I equally do not give a flying flamingo about emotional reactions, or that ‘life is too short’.
- This post is not intent on showing that the happiness mindset is wrong. Rather, it is about exposing it’s limitations, restrictions and some pitfalls.
- Happiness is a myth and a norm.
- Happiness is not in itself a mindset (as was defined in a previous post). But there is a mindset surrounding happiness.
- The happiness mindset is consistent with happiness, as conceptualised within societal norms.
- The happiness mindset constrains people unknowingly to living their lives according a chimeric blend of biological drives within psychosocial and socio-economic frameworks.
The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they are being referred to - any such perceived identification does not mean 'identified to the world'. ‘Stupid' is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual or individuals. ‘Stupid' carries the characteristics groups of people with 'social media mindsets'. The treatment of 'Stupid' is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance.
While the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparing posts on this blog, they make no representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents and specifically disclaim any implied warranties or fitness for a particular purpose. Posts on this blog do not contain all information available on various topics. Posts contain opinion based on facts, experience and other concepts. Opinions expressed are not advice nor intent on persuading any individual or other legal entity to adopt the opinions. Posts are not created to be specific to any individual’s or organisation’s situation or needs. All persons are instructed to obey relevant policies and procedures that may apply to them. Departure from such, is at readers' own risk. You should consult with a professional with fiduciary duty to you, when making decisions. The author and publisher shall have no liability or responsibility to any person or entity regarding any loss or damage incurred, or alleged to have been incurred, directly or indirectly, by the information contained on this blog or hyperlinked from this blog.