• Xav
    If there is one thing most individuals will agree on it is that suffering is bad and happiness is good. Ideally we should end suffering and all become happy. When we have infinite, sustainable energy and robots to cater to our every need. We can go around the galaxy sightseeing with no sufferings and simply be happy and relaxed all the time.

    I disagree with both statements. Happiness and suffering are a push and a pull. When we notice something that makes us happy we in the exact same moment notice a generally equal degree of suffering when not in pursuit of our recent source of happiness.I think, at its core, the spectrum of depression to ecstacy is best used simply to choose between one option and the next.

    When shown two flavoured ice cream and asked to choose, I think back on past experience with each ice cream. I recall and relive the experience of eating each ice cream. I then choose the flavor from whichever memory gives me the most pleasure in the present moment (not which ice cream I was more happy to eat at the time of the memory).

    Say the flavors were vanilla and chocolate. The memory I have of the chocolate ice cream could be on a hot day after working several hours outdoors. The memory of the vanilla might just be a fairly unsatisfactory one of sitting on the couch on the weekend. Needless to say the happiness I experienced eating the chocolate ice cream was far greater than the vanilla. Yet vanilla is my favorite flavor. When I imagine the experience of eating both ice cream and decide which I’d rather have, I know I will get more happiness from the vanilla even though the most enjoyable time of me eating ice cream happened to be chocolate. Being forced into the chocolate, in this new occasion, would likely cause me suffering in fact!

    Looking further into the memory of the amazing chocolate ice cream, let's say I was aware, while working, that at the end of the day I would get a chocolate ice cream. All that day, I may have been in a state of suffering. Imagining the experience of eating a chocolate ice cream and comparing that experience to my work in the sun. The feeling of suffering appears to push me away from my work and the happiness of consuming the icecream is the reward for doing what I felt like doing. The greater the importance of a choice the greater the suffering or happiness. Both will be of equal magnitude. The euphoria of winning a 50/50 bet is just as brilliant as the defeat of losing is crushing.

    When in a state of depression people may spend months, years even, without a drop of happiness no matter what choice they make. This does not contradict my idea however. I have experienced months of what I now believe to be depression and the mentality seems equally a crushing sadness but also (and equally) wanting an unachievable means to happiness. I didn’t even know what it was I simply concluded I wanted something I didn’t have. The more you want something the sadder you are to go without.

    The opposite is also true. The more euphoric state you pursue, the more sad you will be when it’s over. There is no cheating that. Drugs comedown, you’re capabilities change. What I want to pursue is simply a low amplitude of happy-sadness fluctuation. Most importantly I want to pursue the ability to not let my imagination affect my mood; to stay in the present. If we truly could stay in the present moment we could not reflect back or look forward to anything we would prefer and we would neither be sad nor happy. I would choose the first ice cream I saw and I would be equally satisfied with either flavor or no ice cream at all.
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