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SarahC comments on Are wireheads happy? - Less Wrong

109 Post author: Yvain 01 January 2010 04:41PM

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Comment author: [deleted] 14 November 2010 08:11:05PM 19 points [-]

I've seen a fair amount of happiness research, and happiness tends towards the "liking" end of the scale. What makes people happy is giving to charity, meditating, long walks, and so on; what makes people unhappy is commuting, work stress, and child-rearing. Religion, old age, and living in Utah also make people happy.

A life designed to maximize happiness, according to happiness researchers, would not be a hedonistic orgy, as one might imagine. You are actually happier with a fair degree of self-restraint. But it would have a lot more peaceful hobbies and fewer grand, stressful goals (like strenuous careers and parenthood.) To me, the happiness-optimized life does not sound fun. It is not something I would look forward to with anticipation and eagerness. Statistically speaking, we'd like such a life, but we wouldn't want it. Myself, I'd rather be given what I want than what would make me happy.

Comment author: diegocaleiro 06 January 2011 01:58:08AM 9 points [-]

Wow, this is unexpected in so many levels for me. You have access to happiness research yet you would stick to what you want instead. I don't mean to insult or think there is anything wrong, I'm just genuinely staggered at the fact.

I have read some thousands of pgs in happiness research, and started to follow advice. I'm more generous, I take long walks, I cherish friendships, I care very little for a long career, I go to evolutionary envinroments all the time (the park, swimming pools and beaches) I pursue objectives which really ought to make me say "I was doing something I consider important" and ignore money, having children, and some parts of familial obligations.

We had the same info, and we took such different paths...... this is awesome.

So I suppose I am much happier but am in a constant struggle not to want lots of things that I naturally would. So I'm in a kind of strenuous effort of self-control leading to constant bliss. I suppose that you are less happier (though probably not in any way perceivable from a first person perspective) but way more relaxed, prone to be guided by your desires and wishes, and willing to actually go there and do that thing you feel like doing.....

I wish I was you for two weeks or something, if only that were possible, and then I came back....

Comment author: ramanspectre 17 January 2012 03:44:13AM 1 point [-]

"I suppose that you are less happier (though probably not in any way perceivable from a first person perspective) but way more relaxed, prone to be guided by your desires and wishes, and willing to actually go there and do that thing you feel like doing....."

What makes you think that the person you are responding to is more relaxed? You'd think that constantly pursuing wants would make them less relaxed since it takes a lot of energy to pursue worldly things.

And, what you think that you aren't relaxed?

Comment author: Jack 14 November 2010 08:19:59PM 3 points [-]

Living in Utah does not make people happy.

</causality police>

Comment author: [deleted] 14 November 2010 08:27:07PM 1 point [-]

Sure. But if I wanted to live in the best place to make me happy, and all I knew was the happiness distribution by geographic location, it would be dumb to choose to live somewhere other than the happiest place, right?

Comment author: ata 14 November 2010 08:28:10PM 6 points [-]

Yes, but happiness distribution by geographic location isn't all you know.

Comment author: diegocaleiro 06 January 2011 02:00:26AM *  2 points [-]

Also it is not relevant, since happiness varies infinitely more due to other circumstances. 50% unchangeable genes 40% how you deal with the lemons life give you and the strawberries as well. 10% all your life conditions, from marriage, to children, to how rich you are. A tiny tiny bit of those 10% is determined by where you live. (2008 Lyubuomirsky)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 15 November 2010 12:31:58AM 0 points [-]

The other aspect is that the low-intensity hedonic life might suit a majority or a plurality of people, but not optimize happiness for a large minority.