Monday, 4 October 2010

The thin line between facts and myths about happiness


Culture and fashion are calls for conformity. Relinquishing individual thinking and embracing a standard lifestyle bring enormous advantages. They save you time when it comes to taking decisions. They spare you embarrassment when it comes to disguising the truth.

The opposite side is filled by non-conformity, which is just a different sort of style. Holidays are not spent on the beach, but practising dangerous sports. Hobbies do not include watching movies, but wandering in the tropical forest. Clothes, instead of well-fitting and colourful, are torn and monochrome.

You can choose either way to fill your years, not with happiness, but with souvenirs. Imitating someone else's pictures is not the way to create great paintings. Adopting values that make no sense will not move you forward nor render your feelings more intense. Downtrodden tracks lead to dejected spirits. For sure, that is not a path you want to take.

There is an alternative, the same that has always worked. You don't need to spend your days wondering which fashion leads to less dismay. Wisdom does not entail rejecting principles that are preached, but comparing them with reason, and selecting those that work.

Individuality can only draw meaning from private reflection. Sound choices are the result of man's logical evaluation of the world. Before we start to compose our own song, we must allow our mind to filter out random noise. These are my three suggestions about how to move from inherited values to consistency with reality:

First, stop believing in myths: Neither specific clothes, nor gadgets, nor locations lead to happiness. The majority might bestow moral credibility to arbitrary standards, but you are not obliged to buy in. The idea that things have to be done in one specific way is, more often than not, false. Shun rigidity and look around for original answers.

Second, abandon contradictory goals: Irrationality is synonymous with inconsistency. False ideas conflict with facts and with each other. Anxiety is the mark of those who move at random, without destination. Animals do not need perspective, but humans do. Drop ideas that do not make sense and rebuild your thinking structure.

Third, determine your direction: Universal principles can be distilled from observation, but each has a myriad of different applications. The law of cause and effect drives all existence, but your context is unique. No one can tell you how to lead your life best. Let your reason establish your ambitions and priorities.

Realize that the short-term contentment of imitation adds little worth to your experience and much expense to you detriment. Shrug your shoulders at unrealistic advice and ignore insincere invitations. Happiness calls for stable purpose and continuous action. Choose the way of reason.

[Text: http://johnvespasian.blogspot.com]

[Image by Pensiero under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us]