Humans don’t want happiness above all, argued Nietzsche

Everybody wants to be happy, right? Who doesn’t? Sure, you may not want to sacrifice everything for pleasure, but you certainly want to enjoy yourself. There are a slew of drugs on the market for solving the problems of depression, and the methods for achieving happiness are often sold and advertised as something you can get, and that which you desire above all else.

The pursuit of happiness is so integral to our idea of the good life that it was declared to be an inalienable right by Thomas Jefferson. It summarizes the American Dream like no other idea. For many people it is the meaning of life itself. It is difficult for some to fathom that there is a way of thinking that suggests you don’t want to at least try to be as happy as you can be.

Well, there is one philosopher who doesn’t think you want happiness in itself. Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche saw the mere pursuit of happiness, defined here as that which gives pleasure, as a dull waste of human life. Declaring: “Mankind does not strive for happiness; only the Englishman does”, referencing the English philosophy of Utilitarianism, and its focus on total happiness. A philosophy which he rejected with his parable of the “Last Man,” a pathetic being who lives in a time where mankind has “invented happiness”.

The Last Men? In Nietzsche’s mind they were happy, but dull. 

Nietzsche was instead dedicated to the idea of finding meaning in life. He suggested the Ubermensch, and his creation of meaning in life, as an alternative to the Last Man, and offered us the idea of people who were willing to undertake great suffering in the name of a goal they have set, as examples. Can we imagine that Michelangelo found painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel pleasant? Nikola Tesla declared that his celibacy was necessary to his work, but complained of his loneliness his entire life.

Is that happiness? If these great minds wanted happiness in itself, would they have done what they did?

No, says Nietzsche. They would not. Instead, they chose to pursue meaning, and found it. This is what people really want.

Psychology often agrees. Psychologist Victor Frankl suggested that the key to good living is to find meaning, going so far as to suggest positive meanings for the suffering of his patients to help them carry on. His ideas, published in the best-selling work Man’s Search for Meaning, were inspired by his time at a concentration camp and his notes on how people suffering unimaginable horrors were able to carry on through meaning, rather than happiness.

There is also a question of Utilitarian math here for Nietzsche. In his mind, those who do great things suffer greatly. Those who do small things suffer trivially. In this case, if one was to try to do Utilitarian calculations it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a scenario when the net happiness is very large. This is why the Last Man is so dull; the only things that grant him a large net payoff in happiness are rather dull affairs, not the suffering-inducing activities that we would find interesting.

This problem is called “the paradox of happiness.” Activities which are done to directly increase pleasure are unlikely to have a high payoff. Nietzsche grasped this problem and gave it voice when he said that “Joy accompanies, joy does not move.” A person who enjoys collecting stamps does not do it because it makes them happy, but because they find it interesting. The happiness is a side effect. A person who suffers for years making a masterpiece is not made happy by it, but rather finds joy in the beauty they create after the fact.

Of course, there is opposition to Nietzsche’s idea. The great English thinker Bertrand Russell condemned Nietzsche in his masterpiece A History of Western Philosophy. Chief among his criticisms of Nietzsche was what he saw as a brutality and openness to suffering, and he compared Nietzschean ideas against those of the compassionate Buddha, envisioning Nietzsche shouting:

Why go about sniveling because trivial people suffer? Or, for that matter, because great men suffer? Trivial people suffer trivially, great men suffer greatly, and great sufferings are not to be regretted, because they are noble. Your ideal is a purely negative one, absence of suffering, which can be completely secured by non-existence. I, on the other hand, have positive ideals: I admire Alcibiades, and the Emperor Frederick II, and Napoleon. For the sake of such men, any misery is worthwhile.

Against this Russell contrasts the ideas of the Buddha, and suggests an impartial observer would always side with him. Russell, whose interpretations of Nietzsche were less than accurate and who suffered from having poor translations to work with, saw his philosophy as the stepping stone to fascism, and as being focused on pain.

So, while you may value something above happiness, how much are you willing to suffer to get it? Nietzsche argues that you will give it all up for a higher value. Others still disagree. Are you even able to pursue happiness and receive it? Or is Nietzsche correct that you must focus elsewhere, on meaning, in order to even hope for satisfaction later?

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Link Original: https://bigthink.com/scotty-hendricks/man-doesnt-want-happiness-says-nietzsche


Happiness really does come for free

Photo by David Kuko on Pexels.com

People in societies where money plays a minimal role can have very high levels of happiness

Date: February 8, 2021 / Source: McGill University / Summary: Economic growth is often prescribed as a way of increasing the well-being of people in low-income countries. A new stude suggests that there may be good reason to question this assumption. The researchers found that the majority of people in societies where money plays a minimal role reported a level of happiness comparable to that found in Scandinavian countries which typically rate highest in the world.

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Japanese doctor who lived to 105—his spartan diet, views on retirement, and other rare longevity tips

Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara had an extraordinary life for many reasons. For starters, the Japanese physician and longevity expert lived until the age of 105.

When he died, in 2017, Hinohara was chairman emeritus of St. Luke’s International University and honorary president of St. Luke’s International Hospital, both in Tokyo.

Perhaps best known for his book, “Living Long, Living Good,” Hinohara offered advice that helped make Japan the world leader in longevity. Some were fairly intuitive points, while others were less obvious:

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Positive Psychology: Harnessing the power of happiness, mindfulness, and personal strength

Discover the simple techniques to help experience deeper joy, cheerful contentment, and long-term happiness

It’s often said that happiness is a choice: You can either choose to be happy or choose to be sad, stressed, or anxious.

But simply choosing happiness doesn’t always make it so. Many times, you can’t simply force a smile and make believe that everything is coming up roses.

Thankfully, there are much more effective ways, based squarely on research-proven Positive Psychology strategies and concrete techniques that can help you deal effectively with life’s challenges and attain long-term happiness.

That’s why the health experts at Harvard Medical School have created the all-new Positive Psychology Course — the exclusive interactive resource that helps you apply the same tools that are widely used by mental health professionals to help treat a variety of condition, from stress, anxiety and anger to coping with grief and loss.

Step-by-step, Harvard’s Positive Psychology Course will give you strategies to build happier, more positive lifestyle. Enroll today and you’ll discover how to…

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Emotional well-being while home gardening similar to other popular activities, study finds

As civic leaders and urban planners work to make cities more sustainable and livable by investing in outdoor spaces and recreational activities such as biking and walking, Princeton researchers have identified the benefit of an activity largely overlooked by policymakers — home gardening.

The researchers found that, across the study’s population, the level of emotional well-being, or happiness, reported while gardening was similar to what people reported while biking, walking or dining out, according to a study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning. Home gardening was the only activity out of the 15 studied for which women and people with low incomes reported higher emotional well-being than men and medium- and high-income participants, respectively.

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Busca da Felicidade…
A felicidade deveria ser fácil..

O problema é a cabeça do homem que filtra, protege, censura e finalmente faz o julgamento final da felicidade completa.

A mudança de boas experiências pode ser facilmente bloqueada pelas histórias interiores negativas que contamos a nós mesmos…

essas histórias tomam conta de nós como uma ideologia política..

precisamos investir na nossa vida mental, pois ela pode mudar e nos oferecer mais saúde e felicidade..

a felicidade pode ser aprendida…

uma vida cheia de vários pequenos momentos felizes..

Pode ser dificil demais mudar todos os habitos imediatamente,

mas não tão difícil tirar do peito coisas guardadas há longo tempo;

dificil demais tornar-se completamente otimista de uma só vez,

mas não tão dificil aprender que os problemas não durarão para sempre…

É o relacionamento com a vida em si que lhe traz vida…

Então por que não preencher a vida com prazeres agradáveis?

(Robert Ornstein)