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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

For centuries, philosophers and poets have tried to understand what happiness is, and what might contribute to it. In recent decades, scientists have started to come up with the answers. Happiness is electrical activity in the left front part of the brain, and it comes from getting married, getting friends, getting rich, and avoiding communism.

Johan Norberg

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • anonymous coward

    Did he mean to leave out having regular satisfying sex? Vital to happiness as far as I’m concerned (well at least until things stop working, then presumably golf or something will fill the void). Also, haven’t there been studies that have shown that faith increases happiness? Not that I’m bothered: I’d rather be unhappy that believe in a load of nonsense.

  • Julian Morrison

    The idea that happiness motivates people is a mistake. Fulfilment motivates. People will dive into pain and drama to escape happy stagnation.

  • 10 points for Julian. Human beings are goal-driven; endorphins are just a bit of extra incentive.

  • He of course missed Beer and Good Food. Apart from that spot on.

  • A great rule of thumb. I predict these comments will soon be swamped by people posting about friends and colleagues who are delightfully happy despite a string of divorces, lifelong poverty etc. But they aren’t refuting it.

  • John East

    I always thought, “Money can’t buy you happiness” was penned by a liar or a deluded loser. This report seems to support my view.

  • I think a number of studies taken in recent years have proven that, as a general rule, money absolutely does accompany happiness.

  • RAB

    Will you all please stop staring at my money like that? It’s disconcerting!

  • Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure buys one hell of a defense system that keeps most sources of unhappiness at bay.

  • J

    “I think a number of studies taken in recent years have proven that, as a general rule, money absolutely does accompany happiness.”

    I’m not aware of any. There are several studies suggesting that being wealthy relative to other people in your community makes you happy, but I’m not aware of any that show a correlation between actual wealth (spending power, quality of life) and happiness. I don’t think Portugese farmers are less happy than Dutch ones, although they are certainly poorer.

  • Tim Stevens

    Interesting that Norberg doesn’t mention procreation as one of the pillars of happiness. I don’t have children myself, and friends constantly tell me that I’m missing out on one of the joys of life; yet I consider myself a happy person and don’t have any particular urge to be a father.

    Julian: your point about fulfillment rather than happiness is well made, and Norberg touches on this in his article when he talks about the tendency of human beings to fill their leisure time with complicated activities such as reading weighty books or trying their hand at elaborate recipes.

  • btm

    A great movie that explores the idea of happiness, and indeed all emotions, being simply chemical reactions that our brains (and hence WE) control, and that we might actually be addicted to these chemicals, is:
    What the Bleep Do We Know, directed by Mark Vicente.

    They interview a number of leading philosophers, nuclear physicists, and researchers in the field of consciousness. It’s quite a thought-provoking movie.