Is it Possible to Be “Happier” or More Happy in Life?
A thought while in the sauna at the gym:
Is it possible to be “happier” in life? And what does “happier” even mean? And is there an upper-limit to the physiological/hormonal sensations of “happiness”? Are there NEW sensations of happiness that haven’t been discovered yet?
How NOT to be miserable
Certainly misery is undesirable. Before we can talk about positive “happiness”– let us talk about “un-happiness”:
- Having shitty or negative people in your life, who sap away your energy and soul.
- Feeling trapped– like you have no control or autonomy over your life.
- Having a job/boss that you hate.
- Emotional or mental/physical abuse from your partners or people in your life.
- Being stuck in traffic
- Bodily or mental pain (migraines, lower-back pain, chronic pain)
- Stress about not knowing if you can pay the rent by the end of every month
- Not being able to express yourself (creatively or with words)
- Lack of excitement, randomness, chaos, or adventure in life
Thus it seems that the first step to happiness is to AVOID what makes you unhappy (‘via negativa‘ approach a la Nassim Taleb).
How are feelings/sensations of happiness-pleasure manifested in our human body?
Let us assume that most of us think that “happiness” is physiological/hormonal sensations of pleasure — perhaps a combination of serotonin, endorphins, cortisone, oxytocin, and whatever hormones have not yet been discovered.
Feelings of power and pleasure obviously come from the body. Which means that feelings of pleasure-happiness come from our muscles, bones, sinews, blood, hormones, body-electricity — or whatever hidden machinery is operating inside our body.
Happiness ain’t crack cocaine
Now, we know that happiness isn’t just mere bodily pleasure– or else you would say that someone high on heroin or cocaine would be “happy”. But if we think about the bodily chemicals, perhaps someone who is high on crack feels the same as a high school college who got into their university of choice, the same feeling of a person getting a raise at their job, or perhaps winning the lottery or buying a new (pink) Lamborghini.
Is there an upper-limit to pleasure?
It seems evident that there must be some upper-limit to pleasure.
We only have so many receptors in our brain and body which interprets hormonal-electronic signals as “pleasure” or “happiness”. Even if somehow one day with surgery we could “enhance” our body’s ability to experience pleasure (by somehow adding artificial pleasure-receptors inside our bodies) — this technically wouldn’t really “matter”, because of “hedonic adaptation” (we adapt to feelings of pleasure (hedonic) — no matter how good it is).
For example let us say you had the best sex in the world with a “perfect” someone. I don’t think you can have a more “extreme” orgasm, or feelings of sexual pleasure– unless you abstain for sex for a very long time (it seems the best way to INCREASE feelings of pleasure is through abstinence. This is the best way to make food taste better and be more pleasurable– to participate in ‘intermittent fasting‘).
Also there must be some upper-limit to the pleasure we get from buying and purchasing new things/toys/tools. You start off by purchasing a new Lamborghini, then that gets old and you want a Bugatti. Then you want a space ship. Then you want to own your own Mars Rover or whatever.
Thus the pleasure you get from purchasing material things is limited, and certainly must get boring after a while.
Is there a human bodily state which is BEYOND happiness?
The most epic and powerful I’ve ever felt was when I was living in Hanoi/Saigon– extreme creative flourishing, great coffee, all day at the coffee shop doing creative work with insanely fast wifi, super good food, super affordable cost of living (no thinking or stresses about finances), no having to cook or clean (we mostly lived in a hotel), and no stress for transportation (we took Uber and taxi everywhere).
And this is what I felt:
- Supreme self-confidence in myself, my abilities, and my own self-worth and self-valuation.
- Crystal clear mind, which allowed for new creative ideas to enter my mind, which excited me.
- New innovations: New ways of thinking about blogging, my forray into making beats and poetry/rap, new level of appreciation for my photography.
- More profound philosophical thoughts
- Solid gratitude and appreciation of life, and being alive.
What is “supreme happiness”?
Beyond this, I don’t know if there is anything I can “add” to my life. Sure I would love to have the Lamborghini, but I think I would prefer being driven around in a taxi and uber instead, so I can focus on talking with Cindy instead of worrying about driving, getting a ticket, having someone crash into me, or getting into an accident.
So it seems that supreme happiness must be:
Spending all of your waking hours to do meaningful creative work, and surrounding yourself with your soul mates.
I have no idea what else we can do in a single 24 hour day which is more meaningful than this.
So if “happiness” isn’t our ultimate goal– what is?
It seems that the final goal in life is just to focus on your art. To keep creating art, and to attempt to make great works of art which will outlive you, and inspire future generations.
Like Nietzsche said,
“That is an artist as I love artists, modest in his needs: he really wants only two things, his bread and his art – panem et Circen.”