A pathway towards sense of well-being/happiness

9 Nov

Musings

 

Happiness/sense of well being is composed of several parts. A good portion of which is comparative. We compare externally and internally. If we have a bias to compare ourselves externally with those who are worse off than us (based on our mental construct of what worse off means), then we are more likely to be happy than those who compare themselves with those who are better off. Internally, if we are inclined to compare ourselves at this moment to a time when we are worse off, this also elevates our sense of happiness.

I would argue that the standard or information from which we derive our concept of ‘worst off’ sets the standard for how likely we are able to derive happiness even when our situation dips. Something to consider in the development of resilience. This requires both theoretical concepts (things we have not experienced but we know that others have), and constructs that are based experientially.

aside: (So I could say that my bad (or suboptimal) cooking is setting a standard for which my children can appreciate a better standard of cooking.)

An aspect of this equation mentioned above is the bias, or our inclined tendency. The formation of mental bias has both inborn propensity, and the effect of habit. When we are used to expressing, or defining to ourselves, a situation in a positive construct, we are more likely to do so even if the situation is not optimal. Increased exercise of this positive explanation increases our likelihood of effortlessly utilizing this pathway in the future. We can say this pathways has been dug deeper, or strengthened. The converse holds true for negative bias.

This bias can also be nuanced – it can be situational! It is possible to have a positive bias towards self, and a negative bias towards others. However, one must consider the fact that very often external measures will reflect back on oneself. So it is possible to view this situational nuance either as discerning (when the habit entrenchment is functional, such as we do have a higher standard for policy makers who ostensibly operate under a system that is optimized for public good than individuals), or pathological – such as when we do not have the same standards for our own work ethic as we do for our colleagues. The pathology of such soft traits are usually situational. At the bare bones level of functionality, we can say that the individual’s survival and procreation is the key goal. In this scenario, many things that are pathological in a stable society are quite functional in a disrupted society. The return of homeostasis in the individual’s approach after stabilization in society is reflected in both the innate (both born and learnt) flexibility exists, how much reality the individual in in contact with.

The reality that the individual is in contact with is another interesting dimension of this phenomenon. There is objective reality, which includes such cultural/situational constructs (such as whether the society is a flat structure or a hierarchal structure, where certain portions of society are ‘sheltered’ or overexposed from more immediately reality), and there is the individual filter of reality, which is within the individual. How reflective of the real situation is the individual exposed to? How objective and functional can the individual assess this reality? We cannot, of course, escape the positive or negative bias in this scenario. Which shows development not as a linear progression, but as an interactive system.

One specific aspect that would be interesting to determine is whether the individual’s ability to accurately objectively assess reality, and then their subsequent ability to inculcate this into their functionality, is a factor for happiness. The first part of this question would then make a good argument for exploring further Montessori’s theory of exposing young children to more reality-based experiences (instead of mainly offering fantasy) so that people have a good (subconscious) basis (based on experience) to assess reality as they mature.

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