I go to all sorts of talks and discussions in and around my home city of Portsmouth, UK.
One such one was a lecture and Q & A about happiness. It started with a trying to define what happiness is.
What was decided on was this collection: Happiness is Subjective wellbeing; Joy, contentment, positive emotions; Deep sense of flourishing from a healthy mind.
Of course the chemical processes that go into creating a sense of wellbeing could be elaborated on. I thought about this and wondered whether getting a series of dopamine hits from an addictive habit constitute happiness? Technically the answer could be “yes”. Dopamine is produced naturally in the body and is considered to be a reward drug.
The audience of about 60 were asked whether if there was a happiness drug (with no unpleasant side effects) should everyone take it and make the world a better and happier place? There were probably about 4 hands that went up in favour.
If someone is depressed or has permanent psychological malady would it not be okay to treat such people medicinally as those who are suffering anxiety and depression currently are?
Some would say that we should happy as much of the time as possible. A few think there should be a drug made available to achieve that. However, unhappiness is what gets us to react to threatening situations. It is what drives our actions and by doing so can lead to a happier and safer world. It is dystopian to want permanent happiness.
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If someone was coming to murder your family, being happy is not the right state of mind to be in. Being unhappy about disasters and diseases can compel us to find cures and improve safety. If we are happy all the time, would we not lose motivation for trying to do things that should be done. Happiness is a reward that teaches us that we are doing the right thing. How macabre and dangerously dystopian the world would be if people were happy about torturing others. No, wait! Is that not what tyrants and socio-psychopaths are when they are doing terrible things?
Does it not suggest that if we were all on a happiness drug like “Soma”, it would be a world where we would let the psychopaths of the world do what they want to us without complaining too much? It would surely make us like them, happy without a conscience.