Anecdotal review of the book "The Nature of Happiness" by Desmond Morris
Updated: May 27
Key words: Happiness, pleasure, bipolarity, intellectual pleasure, love, sex, Epicurus, altruism, realistic goals, objectives and sports as substitutes for hunting, bullfights are the current Roman.
Summary: Different kinds of happiness are examined by Morris in the book that is being reviewed here. When we stopped being hunters and gatherers, and began to have sedentary lifes during the beginning of the Neolithic period, plants and animals began to be domesticated. The real hunt went out of fashion and substitutes for it were needed, such as the Roman circus, for example, which currently survives as bullfights. But there are more civilized hunting replacements such as obtaining objectives in different professions or competitive sports that are currently practiced. There are other types of happiness such as altruism to which charitable people are dedicated, which can lead to wanting to help, in massive proportions, individuals of any species. To have continuous moments of happiness, such as when one enters a state of flux, it is very important to set goals that are realistic and agree with the skills or else, one can feel disappointed at one extreme or on the contrary bored. The human brain has grown so much throughout our evolution that we can already enjoy "intellectual happiness." They are games in which the brain has fun in things like artistic creativity or scientific research. The development of language gave humans the symbolic ability to be "deceived" by the performing arts for example, which can bring much happiness. It is highlighted how drug abuse can destroy entire families. Intense moments of pleasure that can bring, when things like love and sex are combined. And other types of happiness are reviewed such as listening to music, masochistic happiness, adrenergic extreme sports, etc., to finish this article by drawing some conclusions.
Introduction: This article will review, subjectively and anecdotally, the book "The Nature of Happinnes" (1,2). Obviously coming from an anthropo-zoologist as famous as Morris, the book that concerns us here, is not one of personal improvement. On the contrary, it makes us aware that moments of happiness are ephemeral and explains the main types of happiness according to our nature. After the introduction, Morris talks about the sources of happiness. Then he classifies the types of happiness, followed by a chapter where the nature of happiness is reviewed, to end the book with definitions (maxims) of happiness according to several authors. It is a short book (175 pages) that I highly recommend to be read.
When Morris talks about the nature of happiness, he takes us back to the time when we lived as hunters and gatherers, about 7 million years ago, when we separated from the chimpanzee lineage (3) until 10,000 years ago when the first civilizations began to emerge thanks to the surpluses that produced the domestication of plants and animals, and we stopped being hunters and gatherers. During this prehistoric era, moments of happiness were produced by simple but important things like getting food, protection, staying warm, eluding a predator, hunting a prey, etc. But Morris clarifies, in the book that is being reviewed (1) that it is currently not necessary to hunt animals, which are very likely to be in extinction, I say, to satisfy the hunter's instinct. There are other more civilized ways of obtaining this happiness, such as finding a rare item in a store that one has been looking for years. But the most important example of how to satisfy the impulses of the hunter and thus obtain healthy moments of happiness are competitive sports. These are nothing more than the ritualization of group hunting. Sports began to be invented very early when, with the described revolution of the Neolithic beginning 10,000 years ago, when the real hunt began to go out of fashion and substitutes for it were needed at this point when history (written language) ofically began. We went from being nomadic to sedentary and the first citadels were formed. At the beginning of the story (which begins with the Neolithic) sports were a bit barbaric because consisted of hunting wild beasts. Much more recently, in the Colosseum in Rome, large numbers of animals were taken to the sand to be killed to the delight of the masses. The idea has always been that the people are happy with bread and circus. This began to happen more than 2,000 years ago, obviously in the Roman Empire. The Roman circus still survives today as bullfights, which began to be carried out in Spain since the XVIII century (4). Here I want to make a personal annotation. I do not agree with all the suffering for which the poor bulls are subjected in this "sport"; but the dance of the bull with the bullfighter and his cape, the Spanish music, the opening of the bullfights with the beautiful girls on horseback that they call Amazons and in general the party that revolves around this “sport”, that I like. Already in countries such as Portugal and France, or in the Balearic Islands of Spain itself, bullfights are made without bad treatment, let alone kill the bulls (4). Another Spanish tradition, the enclosures and runners in front of the bulls of the festival of San Fermín in Pamplona in July (5), recreate the dangers of hunting (1). But thanks to the gods, and as already said, the ritualization of the group hunt has now evolved sports such as ball for example, in which the hunter gorups have been replaced by teams and the culmination of the hunt, when the death of the dam was achieved, has been replaced by the goal, or the basket, or whatever the goal that gives points, depending on the sport. Almost all modern sports include aiming or chasing, two fundamental elements of primitive hunting.
But there are other, more subtle ways of ritualizing hunting and getting pleasure in it. And it is the achievement of objectives. The financier who manages to close a transaction or business, the actor who tries to "kill" of amusement his audience. The telethon that manages to add the amount of money that had been set as the target. The goal of a politician, at least outwardly, is to alleviate the suffering of the poor. Another example may be scientists trying to approach the cure of a serious disease such as cancer. That is a very laudable hunting target. Or the artist who tries to "catch" the perfect painting on the canvas. Or for those of us who like to write, the publication of a writing relives the happiness of the death of an animal that is being hunted.
Altruism: The above is competitive. But Desmond Morris (1) also tells us about the happiness of cooperative acts. Altruism which, if not well understood, can be a problem for the theory of evolution by natural selection of Darwin and Wallace (6, 7). According to Richard Dawkins in his well-known book "The Selfish Gene" (8) there are several types of altruism. The most common is one that addresses relatives. By helping relatives we are improving the chances of our genes surviving in another body. There are other types of altruism. As social animals, we would not have survived our time of hunters and gatherers, if it were not for the help of the other members of the tribe in question. Moralists believe that this is something learned, but the truth is that it is part of our nature to help ourselves by helping other members of our group, herd or tribe. This kind of cooperation brings moments of happiness (1, 2).
Charitable altruism on massive scales: Some people are able to see all humanity as members of their own tribe. Humanitarian organizations work with this foundation. Even many of us (I am a biologist) extend our compassion beyond humans to include members of other species, especially if they are in danger of extinction. But there is a problem with humanitarian and charitable activities. For every individual that is helped, there are thousands more in danger or in trouble. Then the moment of happiness given by being able to help a certain number of individuals is quickly overshadowed by becoming aware that there are thousands or even millions of more people who need help. Then the happiness of having helped, quickly becomes sadness when you realize the many that are not being helped. This is the problem of having very high and unrealistic expectations.
Keep expectations about oneself to the right extent: You have to keep one's expectations to the right extent,because if you aspire to reach where you cannot reach, you will be disappointed. But if you set the expectations too low, you will not assume interesting challenges and will not reach your full potential and will not be happy and never entering into what Daniel Goleman [Author of the book Emotional Intelligence (9)] calls "state of flow"; that means that the individual will never enter a state in which an activity is carried out that does not involve much or very little effort for the person who is doing it. Entering the flow state produces a lot of pleasure. It is key then to keep the goals and expectations about oneself in their proper measure.
The sad thing is that most people in the world have monotonous jobs that do not allow them to enjoy the pleasure of entering a state of flux. Large masses of individuals, especially in poor countries, are doomed to endless, boring and repetitive jobs. This is fine for animals such as cattle, for example, that are genetically programmed to chew grass all the time. But monotonous work is not suitable for beings like humans, who are intelligent, inventive and goal oriented (1, 2).
Intellectual pleasure: In contrast to the previous paragraph, there is pleasure and moments of happiness through intellectual work. Throughout our evolutionary development, the human brain has been growing and getting complex to the point that we can enjoy "brain happiness," within which acts of intelligence became rewards in themselves. I make a parenthesis to thank my ancestors who worked very hard so that I could have a tranquil life dedicated to this kind of pleasure. The fact is that the human brain is enlarged so much that it has reached a stage in which it can feel moments of happiness simply by playing games with itself (1, 2). These games range from the most trivial as those of cards and table games in general, of which the most famous is chess, to the deepest ones such as artistic creativity and scientific research. Many will say that these deep forms of play have an ulterior motive such as earning money, a contest or advancing in each other's career, but in reality, all these are secondary products of the process of having fun with these deep forms of mental games. Even when, for example, a research project is written, a detailed apart from useful things that it will bring is included, to increase the chances of being funded. But in reality, and deep down, scientific research is done for the pleasure of the practitioner. Each discovery is a prey that is killed in this simulated hunt.
But I was taking intellectual pleasure to a degree of effort and aspiration that no longer made me happy. To enter a state of flow every day and longer periods of time, doing what I like most that is read-write, until recently I wanted to have the perfect schedule with my sleep and chronobiology fully parameterized. I was obsessing with being super judicious about the key things I do throughout the day to get to have a perfect schedule (which is impossible for a bipolar like me); so that the day lasted enough to do the activities that I do and enter into a state of flow by performing them. That yearning for perfection only served to disappoint me every time I was forced to make minor adjustments to my neuro-pharmacological formula. In a nutshell I was trying to format in a way that went against my nature. It is true that to be relatively stable, a bipolar must do certain key things such as taking medicines and eating at the same time every day, but this should not be taken to the obsessive end to which I was taking it. And when I stopped to compulsively pursuing a perfect sleep schedule, this has been stabilizing spontaneously lately. As I said in my penultimate article (10) it was a matter of releasing the controls so that the airplane that was in loss got stabilized by itself. I no longer aspire to the perfect schedule so that is one less reason to get disappointed.
And I wanted to have a perfect chronobiology mainly to have an iron discipline to be able to publish long books on Amazon. In 2017 I managed to publish an Amazon “a little novel” (666 pages) that is called “The Anecdotes of a Bipolar in its Forites in Cali-Colombia” (11). It was a total failure in sales. Some relatives and friends bought it. That left me a little disappointed by the poor results. I was writing for a long time another book. It is an academic one that was going to be called "Evolutionary Psychology: a reference book or guide for university courses." Working on this book only makes me want when I'm in hypomania (strong euphoria). But I go back to my average mood and stop to like writing this book. At least I managed to publish two long articles on the subject (Evolutionary Psychology) on Amazon (12, 13). So in order to not getting disappointed, and even being in a good mood as I am now, I decided to leave the book of evolutionary psychology frozen. My friends have heard me talk a lot about this topic; the book that is already structured and has about a third of its content ready. To summarize the story, and not to be disappointed, I decided to dedicate myself to which I have training for since my undergraduate studies and that is to write articles, leaving for a while the idea of publishing books on Amazon, as I had expressed before (14). The only three long texts that I have made in my life were the aforementioned book "The anecdotes of a bipolar in its forties" (11), my undergraduate thesis (15) and my master's thesis (16). Writing books are like long athletic race, that at least for me, requires much more effort than the amount necessary to feel pleasure. On the other hand, writing articles, be they those of my blog or the serious scientific articles that I have published: Publications and Conferences are short races with the degree of effort just for my abilities, which allows me to enter a state of flow when I am writing them. In short, and is going to sound a little sad, I spent 20 years as a student and academic tourist at Universidad del Valle (the second university in Colombia) to end up being a blogger. But it is what gives me enjoyment, satisfaction since, I repeat, it has the perfect degree of difficulty for me. I will continue reading and reviewing books from a subjective and bipolar perspective, in addition to publishing other types of writings such as stories for example.
Symbolic capacity of humans that allows us to feel moments of happiness enjoying works of such as scenic arts: Through this book I realized why the human brain is so easy to deceive to the degree that we enjoy plays, television programs and movies as if they were true events, while we are aware that they are lies performed. It is because of our symbolic ability. Seeing it with a little objectivity, for example the letters t,r,e,e l have nothing in common with a large wooden object that provides shade, among many other properties. But because of our symbolic ability we have learned to think about these properties automatically when we see those letters in that order to form the word "tree." It is a plot that the brain believes. That is why we can enjoy performing arts or novel books, among many other art forms. And this is a healthy way to increase our happiness; at least if we compare the latter with drugs [which are different from medicines as I explained in another article (17)]. Then it was thanks to the emergence of language that we developed the ability to accept fiction as if it were something real. Within this category, the most consumed is television. But a life dedicated to television is a bit dumbing and takes time from more profitable and fun activities such as physical and intellectual exercise.
In the grid-iron schedule in which we bipolars must live the, I dedicate a maximum of three hours a day to the TV, including netflix or the other series that I have downloaded on my portable hard drive. I try not to watch long news like Caracol TV's here in Colombia that starts at 12:30 and ends at 3:30 pm. With three hours of space, many specific events of misfortune stand out, which are already very yellow journalism, and I am not interested in filling my brain with negative information. According to cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, in his book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined" (18, 19), violence has been declining during the centuries of history human We are getting more civilized. What happens is that the news business is to highlight the negative events. I like the news of geopolitics and international economics and opinion programs.
And within the series, in addition to science fiction, I love north american situational comedies. The best series that I have watched and that I am now seeing complete and in order has been "The Big Bang Theory". It deals with a group of geniuses who are very good for science, but null as to what has to do with social-emotional intelligence (9). Watching comedies is much healthier than watching yellow journalism news. In a study at the University of Indiana, one group of individuals was put to watch solemn documentaries, and the other comedies. I really like serious documentaries, but the point is that those who saw comedies found showed, after seeing them, immune systems 40% more active and their stress hormones had decreased (1). Another meta-study has confirmed this effect of laughter and overall positive affect on the proper functioning of the immune system (20).
It seems that the origin of laughter is in crying. After four months, babies are able to recognize their mother, and when she begins to play with her son by raising him in the air and playing other little dangerous games, the baby makes sounds of pleasure because these are safe dangers because he is being protected by the same person who is exposing him to them: his mother, whom he can already recognize as his main protector and caregiver. The baby receives two contradictory information:
- This game is dangerous
- But I am being protected by my mother.
It seems that laughter comes when potentially dangerous information is emitted that suddenly ceases to be unsafe suddenly. This is what comedians do. They usually speak badly about certain types of individuals or certain kinds of information, but the members of their audience are in a place where it is safe to laugh. It is similar to the pleasure that adventurers feel when the adrenaline burst happens once a danger has been overcome. But, unlike the immediately preceding, laughter arises when a danger that was not real has been overcome (1).
Life dedicated to drugs is not life: As Desmond Morris says so well, in the book that is being reviewed here (1, 2), life dedicated to the chemical pleasure of drugs makes no sense because it is the search for momentary pleasures that in the long run bring more pain than happiness. In other words, drugs violate one of Epicurus' maxims (21):
“Enjoy a pleasure as long as it does not bring you greater suffering in the future. And submit yourself to suffering as long as it gives you greater pleasure in the future”
It is a way of feeling pleasure in a healthy and sustainable way over time, which is very different from the insane myopia proposed by tropicalism, which tends to enjoy the pleasures in an excessive way, as if there were no tomorrow. As for medicines vs. drugs, and how much they bother me as bipolar who takes “drugs,” let's look at the difference in more detail: Drugs violate the cost / benefit ratio or by changing the numerator by denominator, the sustainably relationship of pleasure / suffering that Epicurus taught us. Drugs give pleasure at the time of being consumed. But they cause a lot of damage in the medium and long term. Medicines, on the contrary, generally do not produce pleasure when consumed but, correctly prescribed and taken, produce well-being in the medium and long term (17). As for drugs, and according to the meaning that is being given here, Morris (1, 2) clarifies that the moments of happiness they provide bring the cost of addiction. Then more and more doses are needed more frequently, and the addict cannot think of anything else, and he sinks into a spiral that can destroy his life.
Legal drugs: Legal or soft drugs, as Morris calls them (1, 2), which are tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol can produce pleasure, without causing much future damage, if taken in moderation. For example, alcohol taken in excess, and depending on the susceptibility of the individual, can bring a problem of alcoholism that can destroy entire families. Tobacco, although legal, is also a drug that can cause many problems such as cancer and respiratory diseases. I started smoking tobacco, in the early 1990s, during my teens when I was undergraduate at the Universidad del Valle, Meléndez in Cali-Colombia. At first one consumes little and does not feel the necessity to consume it; but by the 2000s I was consuming about 10 cigarettes a day. Since 2008 I set myself the task of quitting tobacco and it took me 7 years to achieve it definitively. The last cigarette I took was March 15, 2015. That was an achievement. If a young person is reading this, please do not start with this habit, because when you are an adult, your Freudian superego will require you to leave this vice. In other words, the time comes when you want to put order and health in your life, and nicotine is one of the most addictive poisonous drugs of which you have news (22, 23). Please do not even start even if its in very small doses.
Marijuana is a different story. It is much less addictive than nicotine. However, consumed in excess can also bring an addiction problem. In addition, smoked, harms the lungs. But consumed very occasionally does not pose a problem, as long as one does so with responsibility and in a suitable environment. I do it about once every two years.
My Marijuana Overdose: However, there was one day that marijuana was a problem for me. My dad died on November 26, 2007 in Cali. That loss intensified my bipolarity and greatly affected my Achilles heel: my sleep. In addition to that I was spoiled and aggressive. Towards 2008 and to be able to sleep, one day it occurred to me to try to do it with marijuana, a plant that I had already consumed before for recreational purposes. But that day I started smoking a cigarette from this plant and felt no effect. It was a big cigar and I began to think that the seller had cheated on me, selling me a product with very little Canabinol. Then I smoked that cigar fast and alone. When I stood up from the chair the effect began and I began to feel very bad. I remember that I started shouting:
- Mother! Ma! Ma! I have a very bad weed lock.
Luckily, we were with a friend of my mother staying in our apartment and she helped calm me down. It gave me such a paranoia that if they sang the song of the “Little chicks are squeaking: pio pio pio…” I was scared. I am an atheist but my mother's friend is very Catholic. In the middle of my weed lock I began to say:
- Oh my god, oh my god.
And my mother's friend told me: you see that you are still Catholic. The fact is that it took us about three hours to calm me down until I could sleep. I stupidly gained an overdose of marijuana. From that I do it very sporadically in very low quantities just to get a little dizzy and sleep well. At the moment of truth, nicotine is more harmful than marijuana. But since the latter produces more pleasure when consumed recreationally, then it has been demonized. But little by little it is being legalized, initially for medical purposes but some states like Uruguay and Colorado already allow its recreational use (24, 25). The key in the use of these "soft" drugs is in moderation, and teenagers are not skilled at this. Very young people use drugs such as marijuana to be calm to carry out a robbery for example. This is another story. As you can see the recreational use of marijuana depends a lot on the age and socio-cultural level of the consumer. In any case I do not agree to allow the personal dose, which says is for the free development of personality (26). This is what allows drug dealers to camouflage themselves under this possibility to reach the youngest ones because of their curiosity and lack of maturity, they are the most adept at starting to use psychedelic drugs. Some of these children and adolescents will leave them when they advance in age. But many others will be trapped in the described spiral of addiction that destroys lifes and families.
The happiness that love brings: When our ancestors adopted the lifestyle of hunters and gatherers, a new form of attachment emerged that is rare in other primates. When the males had to go out to long hunting tasks while the females were engaged in their collecting activities, this created new problems. How would the ties between the couples be maintained in order to bring up the raising of the infants, if the males and females kept working separately for a long time? The males arrived with the results of the hunt and the females were going to want to be there for their return. Then, it emerged, evolutionarily speaking a powerful attachment between males and females so that the division of labor (hunting and gathering) could work (1, 2). The phylogenetic growth of the human brain meant that breeding required much more time than in other primates and mammals in general. So, it seems that romantic love was born. This allowed that, unlike other primates, and in addition to maternal care, paternal care arose. This powerful bond that we call love is of relatively long extension in time, in order to ensure the correct programming and education of children with large brains before the arrival of the infant's adulthood. But raising a human infant can take a decade or two, which meant that in addition to the father's care, the help of the extended family would be needed. This is how grandparents' help is needed too. Suddenly that is why they feel so much pleasure in caring and playing with their grandchildren. The other element is the longevity of our species. It seems that one of its causative factors was the already mentioned long period of child rearing. But I also think that women live so long after I cannot reproduce, from menopause, precisely for this, to help her sons and daughters to raise their grandchildren.
Love and Sex: It is well known that sex is different from true love. The practice of sex brings intense moments of happiness. And the attempts to restrain sex has changed if from the highly erotic to raw pornography. On the other hand, the feeling of platonic love brings its own peaks of ethereal happiness. But when love and sex combine the result is an intense emotionality that can provide one of the most acute and intense moments of happiness to human beings (1, 2).
Music: Other activities that bring moments of pleasure are music and dance. When practiced intensely, they allow the upper control centers of the brain to forget about the worries, transporting the relaxed movement of the body to the rhythm of the music or whatever it is being heared and that makes the person in question dance . But there are people who cannot face the fact that, even briefly, stop being in control and get carried away by the rhythm. When I was young, I really enjoyed dancing salsa music and let myself be carried away by parties and concerts, so I was a rumbero from Juanchito (site of the discos next to Cali-Colombia) to New York. But there are people for whom to get carried away by music is something unthinkable and cannot enjoy rhythmic pleasure. Even if they go to a concert, they go to those of music that excites the high centers of the brain, such as classical music, which is orchestrated with a stable rhythm with complex variations of speed and pattern (1, 2). I don't know much about classical music. But now that I am older, I really enjoy the music that I consider to be the classic of our days. I mean movie soundtracks. In any case I do not know what is happening to me but I increasingly enjoy this type of instrumental music. Something is happening with the recent maturation of my brain because I no longer enjoy photography or television as much as I did before. Now instead of visual images, I prefer music. I have to find out why this is happening to me, from a neuropsychological point of view, because I am able to spend whole days in my hammock listening to music. In any case, deep down, the pleasure of listening to music and beyond, that of being carried away by the rhythm, is the fact that during these trances, the secret brain endorphins (word that means internal morphine) and anandamide (in Sanskrit ananda means happiness ) which can bring moments of intense happiness.
Masochistic happiness: There are perverse people who enjoy feeling or infringing pain. More precisely, the aggressor wants to infringe the same types of masochistic pleasure he feels but to others. A classic example of this was the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, who forbade simple forms of pleasure such as listening to music, watching television, going to the movies or dancing, as long as others felt the painful pleasure of their jihadist Islamic religious fanaticism. Malala Yousafzay (27) is a 22-year-old activist, blogger and university student who suffered an attack on her life in Pakistan when she was 15, so she now lives in England. The Taliban wanted to end her life for being an activist for freedoms and especially for the right of girls to study. He was the youngest person to win a Nobel Prize in any of its categories, when in 2011 he was awarded this prize.
Hedonistic happiness and its extreme counterpart: Desmond Morris says in his book on happiness (1, 2) that individuals who live more than 100 years tend to be relaxed in terms of food intake, alcoholic beverages and other basic pleasures. Madame Jean Calment, a Frenchwoman who has the world longevity record, took, smoked and ate fatty food, such as foie gras, most of her life. When she reached 117 years of age, doctors tried to persuade her not to smoke or drink anymore, but it was useless. He continued doing it until he turned 122, age at which he died. Obviously if one eats, drinks or smokes too much, health will suffer. But also, if you become obsessed with caring for yourself, you will also face health risks. Take the example of vegetarianism. Humans did not evolve for that, and part of our evolutionary success was in combining meat with vegetables to have a healthy and omnivorous diet. To avoid eating meat is to deny human nature. Then, following the ancient Greek principle of golden midpoint or aureas mediocritas (28), the correct idea is moderation as to the enjoyment of these pleasures.
Adrenergic happiness: There are people who enjoy the danger. But the exact moment of the peak of happiness is when the danger is overcome. This gives a burst of adrenaline that has caused the proliferation of all kinds of extreme sports, on the one hand, but it has also given rise to the pleasure of gambling in casinos and this type of games. In cities like New York and London, there are young people who climb in the back of the trains with the aim of not being thrown out of the train that goes at high speed. They do not always achieve it, with lethal results for themselves (1, 2).
Quiet happiness, the meditator: It is a form of happiness in which the meditator undertakes a spiritual path that takes him away from the mundane and introverts himself into meditation, whether for philosophical or religious reasons. This kind of happiness is difficult to understand, because our nature is to be a curious, energetic and predatory species. For the most active, such as those who get happiness from overcoming dangers, the action is outside and not inside the meditator's skull.
Religious happiness: It may be related to the previous one. It depends on the individual who enjoys it, has a blind faith according to a certain religion. If thought or analytical discussions or even common sense entered the scene, all faith would be lost, as Richard Dawkins explains to us, in his book "The God Delusion" (29, 30). There are several explanations for religious behavior (31). But Morris, in the book that is being reviewed here (1, 2), focuses on the fact that when we are babies and children, most of us had the protection of loving parents, and when we are adults we want to relive that happiness of being protected by a "heavenly father" as would be said in the Christian tradition.
Conclusions: For Morris, the definition of happiness is the sudden emergence of pleasure when we feel that something has improved (1). For some, the achievement of ambition brings moments of great happiness while for others, setting goals beyond their reach is a source of deep disappointments. As mentioned here, it is therefore very important to set goals that are just adjusted to our skills and knowledge. Setting difficult but attainable goals allows us to enjoy the thrill of achieving symbolic hunting. Sports with modest goals can bring us moments of happiness. For example, I am content to go down and swim 20 times the length of the pool where I live, which is 12.5 mt and then climb, from the basement, the 10 floors on foot that take me back to the apartment where I live. With doing two or three times a week I am more than satisfied. Sports provide competitive happiness and, in my case,, it is a competition with myself because many times I do not have enough willpower to go to exercise. This happens to me when I get dysphoric (very mild depression) but fortunately my bipolar condition has matured to such an extent (I'm 45 years old and I've been dealing with it 31) that low mood moments are now very few and easy to handle. When I get a dysphoria, I even enjoy it because I put my room in low light, I hear relaxing music and I start thinking and it turns out to be fun.
Since we are animals, although unusually intelligent, we enjoy intense moments of pleasure when our carnal desires, whether sex, food, drink and comfort are satisfied. The fact that we share certain appetites with other animals embarrasses some people, especially for religious reasons (1, 2). At least in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the human being has been placed on a pedestal superior to that of other beings. This is called anthropocentrism and is not in line with Darwin and Wallace's theory of natural selection (6, 7). We must be aware that, at least from a strictly biological point of view, we are just one more animal. Believing ourselves superior has led us throughout history to abuse other animals that also feel and even more, we are destroying the planet's biosphere, even knowing that the earth is, for now, our only possible home.
One way to have more happy moments is to combine, in moderation, the healthy sources of it, which has already been summarized here. It is also concluded that if an evolutionary study of happiness is made, if an individual is in conditions that are compatible with human nature, the chance that moments of happiness will occur will be significantly increased (1). Another conclusion is that contrary to popular opinion, the level of happiness is not related to education, age or level of financial wealth. Different kinds of people find happiness (or unhappiness). In addition, the billionaire is so busy producing more wealth (an objective that symbolizes hunting) and taking care of how much he has, which results in having little time to really enjoy his privileges. In addition, as Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, said before his death (32), one gets used to wealth; if a wealthy person does not combine other healthy sources of happiness in a moderate way, the monotony will soon arrive and with it the boredom. Or you will be enslaved in life of hard work to get more wealth (prey) as already left between see.
There are cheerful and optimistic people who find hidden pleasures almost in any situation. This is exaggerated in us bipolars when we are euphoric, hypomanic or manic, depending on the severity of the condition. In these states, self-esteem and verbiage (the product of the rapid flight of ideas) rise, and there is a feeling of almost continuous ecstasy. Many extravagant projects occur and the individual believes that he can carry them out all at once. My bipolarity was hard when it manifested at age 14. I had the genetic proclivity but the trigger was the transfer from Cali to Bogotá in that age. The change of environment altered me a lot in less than a year of living in the capital of Colombia. My first mood was a complete mania with actions that I don't remember, with gaps in memory and so on. Already much more mature I was complicated again, for several years, when my father died in November 2007. I was 33 years old (now I am 45) and only in recent years is it that I have noticed progress again in terms of evolution of my bipolar condition. Recently, by manipulating the medicines I have taken a lifetime and my schedules, I am managing to maintain a constant mild euphoria. That makes me very happy. If it lasts more than a year, this gives room for writing a complete article.
Throughout this article I have been speaking indifferently of pleasure and happiness as if they were the same and that is not so. As I already pointed out, Morris says that happiness is felt for a few moments when we feel that something in our life improves. It is a very narrow definition with which I do not agree much, especially when we examine what my favorite philosopher, Epicurus, has to say about pleasure. This philosopher taught us that the absence of pain is pleasant, and healthy and sustainable pleasure over time is the source of happiness (21). Therefore, if the simple and basic things in life go well most of the time, you can feel most of it, which would bring happiness as a kind of pleasant background interference almost all the time. Epicurus deserves a separate article because his hedonism is generally interpreted as something unhealthy, when in fact he invites us to enjoy healthy pleasures in a moderate and sustainable way over time, which, as already said, excludes drug abuse, whatever type.
Thank you very much for reading this article.
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