Monday, November 23, 2015

The importance of practicing happiness

Happiness is expressed in an internationally understood language, elation, laughter or jumping for joy. Because it is implicated with well-being, health and even longevity (the famous Minnesota nun study and others), it has become an essential field of study, known as positive psychology. Happiness builds trust, and inversely only a comfortable, trusting mind can be happy. So belief underlies and supports happiness. Even laughing is the result of a tense or puzzling situation being resolved to be innocent, comprehensible, a relaxing feeling of confidence and trust. However, the quality or strength of belief or the degrees of satisfaction, courage, and joy, can significantly differ. The first, most basic level is money or power. These two are so closely connected; historically they were invariably one and the same. The second level is trust through knowledge, and the third is love. We will examine them in order.

The resulting differences are based on the level of emotional gravity, an emotional analog of gravity, which is analyzed in detail in earlier posts. Emotional (i.e., temporal) gravity corresponds to the strength of connection to things or people. Small emotional gravity leads to trust, which takes things granted and verification unnecessary. Emotional gravity is generally inversely related to confidence and education level. Insecurity makes it necessary to accumulate things and form a tight connection with family members, which can lead to abusing relationships. Children and young people are more trusting and adapt quickly to changes. Emotional gravity increases with age, and changes are stressful for the elderly. Trust increases with more access to 'things,' so trust is a cultural (trust also increases with democratization), as well as wealth issue. An extensive 2012 study examined happiness as a function of financial means in various countries. Not surprisingly, the study found a positive relationship between income growth and overall satisfaction. However, there is a dark side of wealth, because the satiation 'richness' point is continuously re-positioned. Striving for greater and greater wealth is a tilted viewpoint, which always denies full happiness. A sudden change of financial means, such as winning the lottery generally does not change the mind, therefore the attachment to possessions (the emotional gravity). People who suddenly find themselves awash in money not necessarily become trusting. In fact, it is often found that lottery winners are usually back to their prior financial state and the happiness of the recipients also returns close to its original level. The reversal of fortune of the prize recipients probably can be explained by the difficulty or mental change.

Completion of a problematic task involves hard, systematic work is very different from the sheer luck of lottery winners. Persistent work and study lead to positive mental transformation (Csikszentmihalyi) via trust, generosity (less attachment to possessions) and results in long-term satisfaction. This mental state, in turn, leads to decisions, which positively influence a person's social, professional status and health. Consequently, it is regularly found that people with higher education level are more trusting and they tend to make better financial and health decisions. In other words, learning leads to long-term happiness.

Love is the most important and most significant source of trust. Those who trust are trustworthy. Thus love is a two-way street. This is why we tend to find dedicated people in occupations, which requires love. Love exists in emotional animals, mammals, and birds (and even crocodiles). Love will allow a bird to risk her life to protect its progeny. It fortifies the hero's determination to win in a difficult undertaking. In children stories and literary classics, it is love that transforms and moves toward a moral upper ground. To love is to trust the beloved. Thus love can be directed toward God or abstract mathematics. Love and trust lead to generosity, honesty, and cooperation.

Who does not follow his heart, cripples his soul.

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