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The Science Of Happiness 542

Hogwash McFly writes "There's an interesting article over at The Times that attempts to answer the question 'So what do you have to do to find happiness?' by exploring the biology and psychology behind this highly sought-after emotion. This article opens up new insight into the common perceptions of what makes us happy, such as having more friends and more money. Detailed in the article is the idea that our early ancestors' struggles against adverse weather and predators have led us to instinctually focus on what is wrong or out of place in order to react with more efficiency, then going onto autopilot when things are going well."
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The Science Of Happiness

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  • by nathan s ( 719490 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @08:27PM (#13708822) Homepage
    ...but usually twin studies take this into account, including identical twins who were for one reason or another raised in different families (often as a result of adoption). Researchers are not all stupid; they tend to take these things into account when designing the study.
  • by PoignardSanglant ( 687707 ) <> on Monday October 03, 2005 @08:39PM (#13708909) Homepage
    The question "what do you have to do to find happiness?" is a Philosophy question, not something that can be answered through Science.

    Drugs don't really make people happy. Happiness must come from within.

    The Happy life is thought to be one of excellence; now an excellent life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement. If Eudaimonia, or happiness, is activity in accordance with excellence, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest excellence; and this will be that of the best thing in us.

    -- Aristotle, "Nichomachean Ethics"

    What I get out of that, is that people are happy when they have a sense of purpose and feel like they're doing "what they need to do". Of course, sometimes that is very bad for everyone else. But think about what happened to that guy from Fight Club, who was working at the convenience store but wanted to be a veterinarian.
  • by mattjb0010 ( 724744 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @08:44PM (#13708944) Homepage
    In short, anything that you're sufficiently attached to, that can give you enough happiness, can cause you as much pain when taken away. The solution therefore, is to follow a middle path practising detachment from all wordly desires, so as to walk along the middle path - neither be swayed emotionally toward too much towards happiness, nor being overly susceptible to sadness.

    The four noble truths []:
    1. Life means suffering.
    2. The origin of suffering is attachment.
    3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.
    4. The path to the cessation of suffering (aka the eightfold way).
  • by Alpha27 ( 211269 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @08:47PM (#13708956)
    Who's to say that the apes themselves do not exhibit this trait? They compete with each other, and competition is an effect of dissatisifaction and a wanting to prove something in order to be satisfied. If they were satisfied, do you think they would fight?

    Just my 2 bananas on the subject.
  • Exercise! (Score:4, Informative)

    by dentar ( 6540 ) on Monday October 03, 2005 @09:22PM (#13709120) Homepage Journal
    Plenty of exercise works. Seriously. Exercise cures depression. It's really that simple!

    (This doesn't apply to people with screwed-up brain chemistry.)

  • Slightly innacurate (Score:5, Informative)

    by Prien715 ( 251944 ) <> on Monday October 03, 2005 @10:21PM (#13709442) Journal
    As a somewhat practicing Buddhist, I always cringe when someone says "life means suffering (dukkha)" when Sanskrit word "dukkha" means so much more []. The translation "life is unsatisfactory" is perhaps more accurate. Dissatisfaction is not just caused by suffering (i.e. the personal experience of loss) but also by the failures of expectations to be met and the innate mature of our mind -- especially knowledge of our own mortality.
  • Re:Religion? (Score:3, Informative)

    by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @12:50AM (#13710136) Homepage Journal

    They weren't Christian so much as they were ex-Roman, with all the polyglot of faiths that implies. The Franks hardly had a lock-hold on the region. There were attacks by Islamic nations into the region, but they were attacks of territorial ambition rather than faith-based aggression, and occured several hundred years before Urban's 1095 crusade kick-off, which evidence suggests was intended more to unite the bickering Europeans than to do much of anything for the faith as a whole. (So as a result everybody ran around and killed everybody else (even Christian crusaders ... killing other Christians!) for a few hundred years and sweet fuck all got done. Yay for papal infallibility!)

  • Re:heal thyself (Score:2, Informative)

    by BKX ( 5066 ) on Tuesday October 04, 2005 @09:15PM (#13718707) Journal
    Maybe you should stop thinking of yourself as an enlightened intelligent human and realize that you are an animal with certain needs and requirements. Science knows for a fact that a lack of vitamins and minerals will cause specific physiological and psychological disorders. As will too much of certain vitamins and minerals. Why, then, is it so unbeleivable that chemicals artificially made in a lab would also cause these disorders? Especially when you consume pounds a week. Look at Mexico. Very few people use any artificial sweeteners. HFCS is practically illegal (giant taxes make it cost prohibitive). Almost noone in Mexico has depression. Very few are fat. Coincidence? I doubt it. (Even the fat thing. Mexicans consume around 3500 calories per day. We consume roughly 4000 per day. That's not a big enough difference to account for the obesity rates.)

    As far as the low Slashdot ID, are you jealous, AC?

  • by mrselfdestrukt ( 149193 ) <nollie_A7_firstcounsel_com> on Wednesday October 05, 2005 @01:57AM (#13719900) Homepage Journal
    Whatever worked for you man. I'm glad.
    For some people (like you) it works and they can continue living normal lives.
    For some people it works partially, but you still have to live the rest of your live with this gaping raw wound in your mind.

Air is water with holes in it.