Thursday, June 5, 2014
A recent survey made showed that Americans Top 2 favorite things that lead to "happiness" are Sex and Drinking Beer, while going to church/reading the Bible and raising children are on the lower end of the spectrum. Someone who read the article posted, "Well DUH."
And that got me thinking (because this article kind of pissed me off). So here are my thoughts:
Thought 1: Happiness Defined As "Temporary Acts of Enjoyment"
"Happiness" as defined by this survey, or as it was interpretted by people taking this survey, actually implies "pleasure" and "enjoyment". For instance, you would also expect to see "eating cake" and "going shopping" at the top of the list. Sex, drinking, eating cake... these are Temporary Acts of Enjoyment.
For example, the enjoyment experienced from eating a cake usually lasts a couple minutes. Watching a movie would be more like a couple hours. Sex would be a couple hours. Drinking alcohol could maybe last all night. These things do not intrinsically last very long on their own. Which is why "once is not enough". This then inevitably leads to the issue of Utility.
Thought 2: Temporary Acts of Enjoyment Lead to "Utility"
"Utility" is the issue of only eating 1 potatoe chip. Once pleasure or enjoyment are associated with an act there is then a need to repeat the act to sustain enjoyment if the enjoyment is only temporary. The problem is the more you repeat the "act of enjoyment" the less enjoyable it becomes as time goes on.
For instance eating a cake is fun. But not if it's every single, meal every single day, for a month. A recent study found that the more a person has sex, the more the need for that person to increase: the amount of sex, the number of people sex is had with, and the extent of sexual contact in order for the same amount of pleasure initially experienced to be maintained. It's like cigarettes, the "buzz" fades and an instinctual need for increase comes into play.
This often leads to issues like Excess. "Too much of a good thing". And if your eating cake everyday it leads to obesity, health issues, and possible diabetes.
Thought 3: Long-Term Enjoyment and Happiness
So we can see that "happiness" as defined by the people who took this survey is:
2. Leads to Utility (Faded Enjoyment as it goes on)
3. Possible Issues of Excess and Negative Side Effects
But what about Long-Term Happiness? Can having sex and drinking alcohol regularly for years and years lead to more happiness in a persons life.
I'm pretty sure the answer is no. At some point people will ALWAYS want more. People are always striving to obtain and achieve bigger and better things. And what people often genuinely pursue over a long period of time -despite sex and alcohol being so seemingly important -are things like finding love, raising a family, being successful in a career, giving back to the community, finding God, traveling the world, making new friends, creating artwork, competing in sports... LOTS of things!
So you can say "raising kids isn't fun" and "going to church is boring" and "pursuing a career is daunting" -none of which can be said to make you happy in the moment - but they are things people pursue every single day anyway if for no other reason than they bring LONG-TERM happiness and fulfillment to people's lives. Kind of like working out/getting fit. It's a pain in the beginning, but once you get good at it you enjoy your ability to exercise your physical body at will. You feel stronger and more empowered. Happy.