Re: Damned European Socialists ;-)

Jason Spencer (
Thu, 12 Nov 1998 23:38:24 -0700

> I figured the "we should all become quadriplegics" deduction was so
>obviously flawed
>that it didn't need comment. The quadriplegic example was just to
>illustrate that common
>assumptions about happiness may be flawed. People with so little of what
>we consider
>valuable should be miserable, right? Not necessarily so. People with lots
>of "valuables"
>should be happy, right? Not necessarily so.

You may find Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's work illuminating in this area: Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life (1997)

I have not read the book, only an interview in _Free Inquiry_ but it helped me put words to my conception of happiness.

The idea of flow is a sort of all-consuming alternative reality we are sucked into when we are creative or artistic (in their most general senses). We would not really say we are happy during this flow experience. There is just too much going on. But reflecting on this experience after that fact is the source of our happiness.

Perhaps the quadriplegics find flow in finding ways to overcome their problems.

Rich people may find flow while they are creating new ways of acquiring wealth.

But of course if the initial condition is self-imposed I would imagine overcoming it to be substantially less satisfying.

-Jason Spencer