The conceptual framework for a man's search for meaning

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Part 2: The pursuit of happiness

May 6th, 2011 by dimpledbrain

If it follows that on average life is a mere 185 billions bits of information (Click here for the post), how would you have planned out your journey? (Note that of this amount, roughly a good 15%  is spent on daily tasks like eating, dressing etc). So we are left with 157 billions of it. Rightly or wrongly, some people decide to to end their count much earlier by committing suicide. Strange if you ponder upon it.

p/s: 185 billions bits of information a lifetime just sounds more intelligent than saying 24 hours a day isn’t it?

Anyway, there are 2 kinds of experience that we can attain by investing our attention:

  1. Pleasurable activities- food, sex, sleeping, watching tv and the likes. Returning to prior state, i.e. homeostasis. For example, I enjoy eating food because I am hungry. Once I am full, the pleasure ends. Cannot grow into a complex being through pleasurable activities.
  2. Enjoyable activities- able to grow one into a more complex being. Mihaly says enjoyable tasks have clear goals, immediate feedback and challenging enough to stretch our capabilities.

Watching someone play badminton is pleasurable but playing it yourself is enjoyable. Now you may argue what about food critic? Now unlike us who only om nom nom nom, they have to make some intelligent comments and differentiate among other things, the ingredients used, cooking techniques, geological origins of food and etc. That by definition is an enjoyable activity in the domain of gustatory pleasures.

I am not trying to be a saint or like a doctor-knows-it-all forces everyone to maintain a high percentage of enjoyable activities over the course of your lives. The choice is ours to make and ours alone. But it’s the appreciation of the difference that I intend to evangelize, that at the end of our 185 billionth bit of info, we shall be a happy man.    

A note on the fascination with all drugs and a lot of alcohol 

Mihaly wrote [again], “Any activity that transforms the way we perceive reality is enjoyable, a fact that accounts for the attraction of “consciousness-expanding” drugs of all sorts, from magic mushrooms to alcohol to the current Pandora’s box of hallucinogenic chemicals. But consciousness cannot be expanded; all we can do is shuffle its content, which gives us the impression of having broadened it somehow. The price of most artificially induced alterations, however, is that we lose control over that very consciousness we were supposed to expand.”

Click here for Part 3

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