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The Reality Of Happiness: Just The Facts.

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posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 10:27 PM
People can have vast money and power, friends, influence and still not be happy. Others can have nothing, but still find bliss.

One thing seems apparent: People work and slave their entire lives to achieve happiness. Some are successful, others are not.

So what is happiness? I submit that it has NOTHING to do with reality at all. It is simply the excess of a specific neurotransmitter in the brain:

In 1956, James Olds discovered that rats quickly learned to press a bar attached to electrodes implanted in their brain that would trigger an electrical stimulation in that part of the brain. The human brain has also been found to have a "reward system". Studies with humans have shown that high levels of some neurotransmitters (specifically norepinephrine) can increase feelings of elation and euphoria (happiness) while low levels of norepinephrine have been linked to feelings of depression (unhappiness) (Franken, 1994

So, it appears to me that the difference between having a "quality life" filled with happiness and contentment, and a miserable existence filled with psychological pain, is nothing more than a few milligrams of a brain chemical, moving slightly upward or downward from the normal.

All your life's efforts are basically being channeled to improve your personal norephinephrine levels.

I don’t know if I find that comforting or not.

posted on Jul, 19 2008 @ 11:19 PM
you could get caught in one level of reality, but on another level what composes neurotransmitters? And what composes that which composes neurotransmitters.

In my reality, Happiness is a frame of mind that I can attain at any moment by simply breathing and recognizing that I am a fully functional being of light on the planet earth.

Happiness comes from within. I grew up poor and was always sickened by working for other people in a rat race. Im creating wealth right now, but Im already happy with or without money. I just know that my happiness will be amplified with more money, much like a guitar can be amplified.

You choose your thoughts, you choose your reality. What you focus on grows.

posted on Jul, 20 2008 @ 12:08 AM
Implying that 'euphoria' is the same as 'happiness' seem to miss a lot of nuance. A person leading a happy life isn't happy about everything. That would be mindless and unfulfilling.

This is a classic causation v. correlation argument. Artificially introducing higher levels of certain neurotransmitters may evoke some of the effects associated with a happy life (euphoria), but that doesn't imply that that's all there is to happiness.

posted on Jul, 20 2008 @ 10:52 AM
There are a few holes in your theory.

Your Proposition A: Happiness is caused solely by an excess of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

First: In order to determine the validity of your proposition A. In order to do this, we would have to examine, case-by-case every instance of a person being happy with his or her life. If this were possible then in order for Proposition A to be true, every instance of happiness would have to show an excess of norephinephrine in the brain.

This argument is not meant to show that your theory is untestable and therefore wrong. What it is meant to show is that your theory requires an absolute condition: every case of happiness is caused by excess norephinephrine.

Absolute conditions rarely, if ever, exist in this world.

It is therefore reasonable to say that it is not likely that EVERY case of happiness is caused by excess norephinephrine.

Having said that, Proposition A can be revised to more accurately reflect our observation that absolutes vurtaully are nonexistent. We get Proposition B.

Proposition B: Happiness is sometimes caused by an excess of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

There now exists a problem: What is happiness in the case that there is NOT an excess of neurotransmitters in the brain?

posted on Jul, 20 2008 @ 11:26 AM
The danger here is that if we were to reduce happiness to a neurotransmitter level, we would still not be happy... but we would be enslaved further by the now-existent need to get more neurotransmitters.

Happiness cannot be found in a chemical. Were those lab rats happy? Every day, millions of people turn to some sort of chemical crutch to improve their disposition. Most of these (if not all) are linked to adjustments of the neurotransmitter levels to induce euphoria, hallucination, or in a few cases, apathy. I know of no drug addicts who are happy, yet they spend quite a lot of time in search of that happiness. They simply look inside a chemical. Happiness is not there.

I remember a recent study that showed that political conservatives were on average happier than political progressives. I also remember hearing about studies that showed religious people were happier than atheists. Now before everyone gets out the pitchforks and torches, these were probably biased reports. Yet even if they are biased, they still show that even news reporters are concerned with happiness.

I know what I have observed in others. Intolerant people are typically less happy then tolerant people. Uptight people are typically less happy than easy-going people. Stress seems to play a huge role. So, based on these observations, I would hypothesize that a lack of stress in one's life makes one happy.

Now the question becomes, what reduces stress? Perhaps a lack of concern for the future? I know that I am less stressed when the bank account is sitting pretty. I spend no more money, but I worry less about the 'what-ifs': What if I have a breakdown and it takes a week to get back rolling? What if my carrier loses this account? What if the computer stops working? What if prices keep going up? All this is meaningless because I am in a position of strength.

Another thing that relaxes me is ability to survive. I know that no matter what happens, I will be at least as able to survive it as anyone else. A tornado might blow my home away, but I could survive and rebuild. A heat wave could wipe out my garden, but I could afford to eat until next year. If gasoline goes to $50 a gallon, I could still afford to drive what I need to, because it will be that much for everyone else as well. So there is no need for me to concern myself with the future, other than to stay prepared and alert to it.

Simply put: A lack of stress = a plethora of happiness. Maybe it is triggering that same neurotransmitter, but it really doesn't matter; it works. And it's free.


posted on Jul, 20 2008 @ 11:41 AM
What this debate really comes down to is as follows:

Is the correct view of the world monism or dualism?

Mosism claims that all of reality can be reduced to physics and matter, nothing more. If monism is correct, then the claim that happiness is solely the result of neurotransmitters is correct.

Dualism claims that there is more to reality than physics and matter. If dualism is correct, then the claim that happiness is solely the result of neurotransmitters is incorrect, though it might hold some truth in some instances of happiness.

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 12:33 AM

Happiness comes from within. I grew up poor and was always sickened by working for other people in a rat race

Right on brother!!

I was just talking about that with my buddy tonight. We were sitting in the front yard having a drink and a smoke a shooting the # and we got talking about being happy.

We decided that we were both happier becuase we dont have too much going on and we can relax and talk about hunting and fishing (he never caught any today) ...just enjoy sitting in the front yard and have a beer!

Does it get any better?

No stocks, no bonds, no real money...just enough, house paid for and thank God for being free!

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 01:26 AM
There are a lot of great responses here, I'm still reviewing and thinking about them, and will respond later. But I wanted to comment on this:

Originally posted by whiteraven

Happiness comes from within.

We decided that we were both happier because we don't have too much going on. Thank God for being free!

No doubt that you can be highly productive, and be miserable. Just take a look at Hollywood movie stars. Take a look at Brittany Spears. Her frame of mind seems pretty wretched to me.

Why do people, who have wealth and fame, ever commit suicide? Yet it happens frequently. It is a mystery, isn't it?

Finally, is it possible to be a slave, and be happy? I would say so -- because we are all free in our minds, and slaves to the world. And that previous statement -- certainly true -- can either elate your or depress you, depending upon your outlook.

I don't think that "reality" necessarily dictates happiness. It just persuades us.

posted on Jul, 21 2008 @ 05:51 AM
Most people who describe themselves as happy consider it a state of mind, rather than a state of being (myself included!).

It's a choice you make, which does not depend on anything external.

I suspect that if you train yourself to be happy your brain chemicals will follow up with the right mix of neurotransmittery-thingeries, in the same way the first step to muscles that bulge out is to (choose to) lift weights.

The fact that I'm rich, attractive and loved is just coincidental.

(of course rich, attractive and loved is a matter of perspecive, I never got any extra quantity of things, just saw it all in a new light.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 12:26 PM
IMO, consciousness creates mind and brain so the brain has nothing to do with happiness. I don't believe there is an outer. Everything I see is me. So a person can create happiness by identifying with consciousness first and then deciding to be happy. Happiness is not a result of having things. It is a decision. And once the decision is made to be happy, to focus on what makes you feel good, then other things may come to you and you will know that happiness is a decision rather than any person, place, or thing.
It is also a decision made in every moment.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:01 PM

Originally posted by ElusiveGoddess
It's a choice you make, which does not depend on anything external.

I agree with your post overall, but I want to argue the above quote for one second, because it is at the core of my discussion. Let me give an example:

If you stub your toe, the pain is excruciating. It does not really depend upon what you want -- you are going to HURT! And if you have a lot of talent -- maybe you are deep into Yoga, perhaps you can ease or eliminate the pain -- but that is not really "normal". You have no personal choice, except to suffer that pain.

Likewise, under some circumstances, you can find yourself in a situation so outrageously depressing that you cannot escape that feeling. Perhaps it is the loss of a loved one, or maybe some other personal tragedy. It is not physically possible to choose happiness, in some circumstances.

Yet – AMAZINGLY (and this goes right to the "monism" and "dualism" discussion suggested by Daniel191159 earlier) you can eliminate the pain of that stubbed toe instantly -- by applying Novocain or something stronger. And the depression you feel? Just take any number of antidepressants. You soon feel better!

So the reality is -- brain chemistry has EVERYTHING to do with the final result. (This pushes back on Ian McClean's argument -- the brain chemistry DOES cause the effect, and not the other way around. Otherwise, pain killers and antidepressants wouldn't work!)


So what is my overall conclusion here? I think it is as follows: wherever pain and pleasure exists in the universe, all we see HERE on this plain of existence, are chemical reactions. This chemistry is the ONLY linkage between the physical universe and consciousness. If that is true, it is really the brain chemistry that makes us feel good or bad, pain or pleasure – not the reality of life.

And, of course, you can cut-off that relationship with reality (if you need to) through direct manipulation of those chemical balances. So in that regard, ElusiveGoddess, you are 100% correct.

Once again, I am not so sure that this is comforting, but I think that it is the correct perspective on things. Maybe. I need to reflect more on this.

Edit: To fix pesky quote tags.

[edit on 22-7-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:20 PM
Secret to happness "want what you have". Cool to chase things in life. But for real just be happy with what you already have. There is always more to come, more happness...bil

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:40 PM
I hear lots of people responding with statements or references having to do with money.

The fact that money has been equated with happiness and a good life is a big problem, in my opinion... even if it's just a means to an end. I don't like money at all. It makes me very unhappy just looking at it.

I can guarantee that nobody else here actually would truly like money either if everyone wasn't brainwashed in one way or another. So... conspiracy proven, everybody!

Is this a first?

Or is this just going to get ignored?

I don't even think happiness can be the end all be all of existence. Is love the same thing as happiness? I don't mean like love between a man and a woman, but like love between a being and existence. Love for the very thing that makes us us. All the things encompassing us. With that kind of attitude, money is just paper.

I think happiness is just a temporary state of mind, and it possibly COULD just be the presence of an abundance of certain chemicals in the brain. In that case, corporatism has turned the Western World into a giant happiness machine, with everybody chemically addicted to feeling comfort (isn't that the same as happiness?). If that's all you are looking for in life, prepare to learn nothing, and therefore defeat the purpose of life. Why do you think most of the Western world is completely ignorant and apathetic? Because everyone is so addicted to the chemical high produced by comfort and happiness that they pursue that exclusively. Rarely anybody pursues anything for actual enlightenment and evolution of their consciousness. They just go through the motions, spit out the right answers, do thy bidding of their overseers, and in turn they get a reward in the form of fake happiness and fake comfort. We're like a giant overgrown rat racr or Pavlov's Dog experiment here. Instead of a bell that rings, it's some numbers being added to a non existant (in hard reality) bank account. We go "Ooh more numbers. Now I can be happy. Now I can do what I've always wanted to do. Just after I finish making more and more numbers, wasting more and more of my time, and eventually I never did get to enjoy all those savings I had there because all the banks went bust in the midst of the fake economy going belly up. Now my efforts to pursue fake happiness because I'm chemically addicted to the feeling I've been trained to get every time I see dollar signs have been meet with a giant let down and withdrawl."

What happens when the withdrawl from chemically happy people startss to hit when their accounts go bust and this impermanent set up we all rely on breaks down?

Have you seen the behavior of detox patients? Buck Division has a point with his thread here. This could be a very crazy scenario. How much longer do you all think this complete fakery everyone is addicted to will last?

I highly doubt it will last another 20 years. I have nothing to work for right now. Social security is a joke, community college will get you maybe a 5 dollar an hour pay raise, and plus I'm not going to sell my soul and my creative talents out. I wouldn't afford to be able to live on my own for years, and even then, just barely scraping by as gas prices rise towards doomsday prices.

What do people think they are fooling themselves into? This whole system is based on artificial and naturally occuring "feelgood" moments, and people are just going to completely FREAK when that constant flow of comfort and the protection of ignorance and apathy isn't flowing in daily.

People have no damn clue, man. Barely anyone on this board gets it, either. All I ever here anyone talk about is money this, economy that, politics (who's gunna protect our stuff?") this, war (Who's gunna give me stuff?) that, fear, hate, disease....

You people are all insane! Do you realize this? No. You don't.

What am I doing here? Seriously, an addiction.... because at least most of you people aren't AS insane as the people out there lurching around like they are the only things that matter.... Isn't that a compliment? Conspiracy people are not as crazy as "normal" people. Don't thank me just yet.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:49 PM
I'd also like to add that I think there are worthwhile things that truly do make people meaningfully and lang-lastingly happy... but just like Pavlov replaced the reaction the dog got from food with a similar reaction to a simple bell sound, so we've been trained similarly.

Replace something truly meaningful and free with something indoctrinated as being meaningful and controlled.

This is why we're all mental slaves.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:53 PM
And no, brain chemistry is simply something that we have to get a personal hold of, and not let it control our actions. It does not determine the final outcome, unless you let it.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 11:06 PM
reply to post by dunwichwitch

I hear lots of people responding with statements or references having to do with money. I can guarantee that nobody else here actually would truly like money either if everyone wasn't brainwashed in one way or another. Is this a first? Or is this just going to get ignored?

Great set of posts, Dunwichwitch! Yes, it is going to be ignored by most people, but you have to count on those few you connect with.

So I get the general drift of what you are saying in its entirety: Happiness is overrated! Actually, this is the first time that it has been expressed in this thread with such forcefulness, and it is a completely valid point.

And yes, if someone thinks the world is mostly sane, that person is probably insane. That's obvious.

So you made a lot of good points. I won't try to paraphrase them any more. There is too much there. Thanks!

[edit on 22-7-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on Jul, 23 2008 @ 04:19 AM

Originally posted by Buck Division

Originally posted by ElusiveGoddess
It's a choice you make, which does not depend on anything external.

If you stub your toe, the pain is excruciating. It does not really depend upon what you want -- you are going to HURT!

I agree, but my definition of happiness allows for some tempory pain.

I'm not convinced antidepressants actually work. Obviously when you first take them they do, but ongoing use does not lead to a happier life. In fact there's plenty of evidence to say the opposite...

Unless you're mentally ill, they're at best useless, at worst harmful.

You can find ways to indirectly tell your brain to produce the right hormones...methods that don't have side effects, aren't addictive and won't make you suicidal...

The relationship between emotion and external circumstances is a complex one. There is plenty of research (and annecdotal evidence) to suggest that indirect methods if influencing happines are more effective that hitting the brain chemistry directly.

I hope we're on the same wavelength.

posted on Jul, 23 2008 @ 09:48 AM
Originally posted by ElusiveGoddess

The relationship between emotion and external circumstances is a complex one. There is plenty of research (and annecdotal evidence) to suggest that indirect methods if influencing happines are more effective that hitting the brain chemistry directly... I hope we're on the same wavelength.

Great links above. I took a quick look and will review in more detail later.


If your contention is that it is NOT GOOD to use antidepressant medication without the advice of a good doctor -- we are absolutely on the same wavelength. THESE DRUGS ARE DANGEROUS! True.

I also agree that relationship between emotion and external circumstances are highly complex. It is really that aspect I am trying to discuss here -- different people can be depressed or elated about the same thing. Your happiness or depression is not really a way of measuring reality at all.

That is my main point to this thread. External circumstances are not dictating your happiness or sadness. You cannot gauge your REAL LIFE situation by the way that you currently feel. Your feelings are all dictated by neurotransmitters, in your brain, as opposed to something external, lifting you up or dragging you down.


But I disagree that antidepressants are useless, and I disagree with your opening statement that happiness requires some pain. In fact, happiness is counterposed to pain. You cannot be happy if you are in real pain, can you?

Okay -- you qualified your statement with "temporary pain", and I will go on that, based upon what I consider "temporary" to be. I guess someone who just stubbed their toe will not immediately change their opinion on whether they have had a happy life or not.

(What am I doing here right now? I have to get back to work! This ATS website, as mentioned previously here, is a bit of addiction. I feel my norepinephrine levels beginning to drop....

[edit on 23-7-2008 by Buck Division]

posted on Jul, 23 2008 @ 12:35 PM
Thanks for the pat on the back, Buck.

People, when they don't truely know themselves, and they let the society and the media and the government shape their version of what they THINK they think reality is, problems are bound to arise. If you believe all the crap mainstream science, news, media, gov't, churns out, then your basic belief is that you are nothing but an accident, nothing but a chaotic force of external circumstance, nothing but an uncontrolled beast that needs to be controlled. You may not consciously say "I am an uncontrolled beast that needs to be controlled", obviously, but in short... you have no sense of spirit. Ya know, the life force that makes us all conscious of this existence? If you don't know about your true self, you are not in control. You are letting your body's chemical reactions completely control your thoughts and your actions.

See, the purpose of meditation is to learn how to control your random thoughts and emotions. It proves that YOU are in control of your brain. Your brain is not in control of you. So where are you? Who are you? Because if you are not your brain, and you are not your body... then what are you?
You are a witness... but you are not a helpless witness. You are the one one gives yourself life, so you can choose to be happy, choose to be sad, choose to be jealous, choose to be angry, choose to not be phased at all. The latter being the state which meditation seeks to achieve. Bliss isn't really happiness.... it is kind of the in between silence of just being able to notice things and not let them completely take you over. If you are always seeking happiness, it is an addiction and it is in control of your mind. Mind control. Making happy addicted zombies is what America does best. People are so addicted to happiness that they will delay their pursuit of what they truly want for years and years to "save up" for one day achieving it. People think happiness is something they need permission to have. Permission in the form of "How much does it cost, Mr. World Corporation?"

If you want to steal from anyone, steal from the Corporations. That would make me truly happy.... is if all the robbers in the world stopped targeting innocent people and started targeting the corporations. Go collect their karmic debt!

Seriously now, this is how they get you to waste more than half of your waking life doing things you hate and giving other people control over you in order to get things you are addicted to: comfort, happiness, sensory pleasure.

This is how they breed ignorance... by making you obsessed and controlled by your body's and brain's chemical reactions. "NEW STUDY! You are nothing but chemical reactions!" and then a commercial for "Hershey's: Happiness." and then an insurance commercial "Will your loved ones be HAPPY spending up to 10,000 dollars burying your DEAD corpse? Buy dadada Life Insurance for PEACE OF MIND."
And then a really exciting car commercial, followed by a really seductive deodorant commercial, followed by "Ugly Betty", once again raising the bar on how ugly society will comfortably allow your body to look.

Pardon my French, but it is ALL BULL#!!!! WAKE UP, YOU ZOMBIES!!!

[edit on 23-7-2008 by dunwichwitch]

posted on Jul, 24 2008 @ 04:24 AM
This is a useful discussion, the more we talk, the more we agree it seems!

I don't think anti-depressants are useless, more that their long-term benefits to people who aren't clinically depressed are overstated. It's very important to distinguish between some who has a serious mental illness, and some-one who's sad because some-one died or they lost their job. The study on the placebo effect was interesting, though I don't know how repeatable those results have been.

The only point of contention left is whether your state of mind (as some mysterious, inexplicable process) is best manipulated to alter brain function, or, is it better to manipulate brain function to benefit your state of mind?

the former is, I think, trickier, but less risky. The latter has more of an instant effect, but carries more risk, particularly where drugs are involved.

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