Thursday, November 01, 2007

Choices

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” - Thoreau

Here is something I have been wondering lately: If you could have love, money, fame, and truth, plus wisdom, respect, health, intelligence, and good looks-- or, none of these things, but have instead perpetual happiness-- which would you pick? In other words, could you choose actual happiness over the things that are commonly supposed to bring happiness? Or would you have trouble believing that you could possibly be happy as a poor, unknown, homely, sickly simpleton? I think we all tend to believe that such a life must needs be unhappy. But I often think the objective evidence often points otherwise.

4 Comments:

Blogger Brown said...

Bit of a trick question, innit?

Given the state of the world and the fundamental nature of the human condition (essential doubts, etc.), the only way to be granted perpetual happiness would to be made either infinitely wise (such as a Buddhist monk on the verge of Nirvana) or infinitely stupid.

Either of those conditions would very likely obviate the need for love (from another), money, fame, health, intelligence (QED) and good looks. If it was the wisdom option, respect would likely follow (at least from some).

I don't want to be perpetually stupid as a trade for perpetual happiness.

Perfect wisdom would be very nice--I would term it enlightenment.

That said, I imagine that someone with money, fame, truth, respect, health, intelligence, and good looks is likely to have just about as much love as he or she would want. Throw in even a little bit of wisdom, and that looks like a far richer existence to me than one of perpetual happiness.

11/2/07, 12:00 PM  
Blogger jcat said...

Reckon I'd take the perpetual happiness. I have or have had in the past most of those things, and ultimately - if you wake up in the morning hating yourself for breathing - they don't make much difference. Sure, I'd rather be rich and happy, or beautiful and happy. And I figure that if you are truly stupid you wouldn't realise it anyway. Probably why I didn't mind taking topamax....

So yeah, happiness wins out over anything else.

Do you know if Andrew ever found his cat? That's one happy ending I really wish would be true!

11/4/07, 1:59 AM  
Anonymous 26 said...

Rather than money, than fame, than truth; give me warm, fluffy, waffles, smothered in sweet Vermont maple syrup, on a cool autumn morning with my love.

11/4/07, 8:29 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

I think humans can't be happy all the time, so perpetual happiness isn't an option. Haven't they done studies on this? I think so, where someone wins the lottery but is at basically the same level of happiness a few years later than he was before, for example. Stuff comes and goes, and is salient and therefore rewarding temporarily, but we always come back to a basic baseline.

So I guess I'm agreeing with you, that happiness isn't really about love, money, truth, etc.

11/5/07, 6:54 AM  

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