Background

What Happiness is NOT and IS (with Andrei Tanase, Filmmaker)

Uploaded 2/27/2024, approx. 35 minute read

Okay, so we are here to discuss happiness and happiness is a word.

So it's very good to look at the etymology of happiness. Where did this word come from?

Happiness is an English word and it comes from much earlier, much older words, which signified luck, chance, luck.

So if you were happy 500, 600 years ago, it meant that you were lucky.

Another meaning of happy about 600, 700 years ago, it was equal. So luck, equality, prosperity, having a lot of money, a lot of property, these were the meanings of the word happy a few hundred years ago.

The Scottish also will also use the word happy to describe someone blessed by God, chosen by God.

The Puritan Protestants, when they established the United States of America, the colonies that became the United States of America, the Protestants believed that when you are chosen by God, when you are blessed by God, you become a rich man.

Rich people are blessed by God and the Scots use the word happy to describe such people.

So as you see, the original meaning of the word happy had a lot to do with money.

Having money, having property, being rich, this is what people then considered happy.

The only exception were the Welsh, people from Wales. People from Wales use the word happy to describe someone who is wise.

And I much prefer this interpretation of the word happy because I think happiness requires wisdom.

If you are not a wise person, you are very, very unlikely to be happy.

There are three components, three ingredients in happiness and all of them require some wisdom.

The first component is that you have managed your life or you manage your life well.

You are self efficacious. In other words, you are able to obtain outcomes and results which are good for you, beneficial for you and for those you love.

And you are self actualized. You have realized your potential.

So the first element in happiness is that is good management of life, good management or realization of potential.

Making yourself and everyone around you accomplish goals which make them happy in a way.

The second component is that you contribute to something outside yourself.

If you are focused only on yourself, if you are only the first ingredient that you are managing your life well and that's not enough, you need to be connected to something bigger than you, something outside yourself.

This something outside yourself could be imaginary. For example, God.

God is an imaginary being. So you could be connected to God.

It could be real. It could be a nation. It could be a community. It could be a football club. It could be a voluntary volunteer organization.

As long as you're connected to something outside you bigger than you, you contribute to the collective, you contribute to the community. You have a sense of belonging. A sense that you're making a difference. You're a change agent.

That is a condition for happiness.

And the third component, I think, the third component is that you have conducted yourself in life with dignity and with integrity. You had values. You observed these values. You never deviated. You never betrayed yourself. You never betrayed your beliefs and your convictions and your values.

So dignity and integrity are crucial to happiness.

I think these are the three elements having respected and loved yourself, conducted yourself with dignity and integrity, managed your life well, and contributed to your community. These are the components of happiness. I think so.

Happiness is not the same as gratification. Gratification is temporary.

Happiness is much more prolonged.

I would say that gratification is a state of mind while happiness is a state of being.

So you could acquire gratification. It changes your state of mind, but then you need more gratification.

Gratification, in other words, is addictive.

Happiness is not.

It's a state of being and happiness therefore is internal, not external.

Anything that comes from the outside and makes you happy that's not happiness. That's gratification.

So it's internal and not external.

So grandiosity, hedonism, self-sufficiency, proud self-sufficiency. I don't need anyone. I don't care about anyone.

These are all forms of narcissism and people very often confuse these things with happiness.

People confuse possession, owning, owning things. I have a new car. I have a new smartphone. I have a new wife. I have a new girlfriend.

Owning things. People objectify. They convert into objects. Everything, including other people. They use other people. The other people become commodities.

And so anything that comes from the outside and is consumed is not happiness. It's gratification.

And in our current civilization, capitalism taught us that consumption is happiness.

Not even that it is conditioned for happiness, but that it is happiness.

So if you don't consume, you're not happy. If you're not able to consume, you're not happy.

Not possible to be happy without consumption.

So and of course, this is a lie propagated by capitalists because they want to increase their profits. They are addicted to growth, constant growth and so on and so forth.

So they need people to consume.

But if people realize that consumption makes them depressed, consumption makes them unhappy.

Consumption is an addiction. Consumption is mentally ill.

If people were to realize this, they would stop consuming or minimize consumption and this would create a gigantic economic crisis and a fall in profits and bottom lines of companies and they cannot afford it.

Of course, media, the media, mass media, social media, these are capitalistic corporations. Even universities are capitalistic corporations.

Most intellectuals are capitalists. They make money out of their public intellectual position. It's all about money so you can trust no one.

You can trust no one with your happiness. You should not look for a guide or a guru or mentor and so on so forth because they are contaminated and corrupted by money.

The only locus of happiness is inside you and you have all the information you need more or less from the moment you're born. All the information you need in order to be happy.

You just need to learn how to read yourself and then how to respect what you learn about yourself, how to respect yourself.

Our civilization is a civilization of self disrespect, self trashing and so when you don't respect yourself and you're an addict, you're a junkie of consumption.

Now, of course, you cannot be happy.

Now, happiness is individual. I am happy in one way, you're happy in another way.

This is why we can never define happiness. Never.

And we can never define love.

Because I love one way, you love another way. That's why there's no definition of love that is accepted, not even in psychology.

These are idiosyncratic individual, individual outcomes.

So we cannot capture them in a lexical definition.

Each person is happy in his own way, but an unhappiness is universal.

So we both are happy in different ways, but we are unhappy in the same way.

Unhappiness is universal.

So if we want to study happiness, we should not study the existence of happiness, but we should study the absence of happiness.

Because it is the absence of happiness that is universal.

The existence of happiness depends on you, on me, on her, on everything. It's individual.

We cannot study anything. I cannot learn anything from you about happiness.

Nothing. We can talk nine hours now and I will still learn nothing from you about happiness.

I can learn a lot about your happiness, but it has nothing to do with my happiness.

However, if I learn what makes you unhappy, I can learn a lot about happiness.

Because it is the absence of happiness that defines happiness. It's like negative. A negative becomes a beautiful photograph.

I created a therapeutic tool, a tool in therapy, that I called it the map of happiness.

The map of happiness has two components.

I ask when I teach you the map of happiness, I ask you, what is the thing without which you can never be happy?

So I'm not asking you what makes you happy.

That's not the question. I'm asking you, what is the thing without which, if this thing is not in your life, you can never be happy?

So, for example, wine. I like wine. Wine makes me happy, but I can definitely be happy without wine.

So this is the wrong question. What makes me happy is the wrong question.

But I can tell you that if I didn't have access to books, I would never be happy.

So the question is, what in my life is something without which I can never be happy?

And the answer is my case, is books.

Each person, some person will answer sex, some person will answer food.

My answer is books. Many things make me happy. Very few things are preconditioned for my happiness. Very few things, without them, I can never be happy.

But many, many things make me happy.

So we should focus on the few things without which you cannot be happy.

And the second question in my map of happiness, when I ask the people, yes, I'm asking, when you are not happy, how do you feel? How does the absence of happiness feel to you?

And you will be surprised that people never think about this. They think how they want to be happy. They think how they want to be happy.

Say, I want to have money. I want to travel a lot. I want to have a beautiful girl. I want to have a car. But they don't sit around and say, OK, let me now get acquainted. Let me get familiar.

With my condition of unhappiness. Let me think deep about the situation when I'm not happy.

Very few people are doing this. They can say to you, I'm not happy right now, but they don't analyze. They don't really study. To understand happiness, you need to study the absence of happiness. Unhappiness is a much more extreme condition.

Unhappiness is really distress, depression, anxiety. Unhappiness is an active state.

I'm not talking about unhappiness. I'm talking about absence of happiness, what the existentialist called nwe. Absence of happiness, when life is dull, is not exciting, is not not worth living. You can't get up out of bed, not because you're depressed, but because life has nothing much to offer you, like a very long and boring film. You know, so this is a condition of absence of happiness. We feel very good when we are happy, because that's an active state. And we feel very strong. And actually, we feel very good when we are unhappy. Because when we are challenged, when we have to overcome something, when we have to fight in order to accomplish things, we feel good.

Happiness and unhappiness, these two active states, make you feel good, not bad. It is the absence of happiness, which is essentially the absence of life, that makes you feel bad.

Depression is not about anything objective. You can find multi-billionaires who are depressed. It's not about some, it's not about an objective thing. Depression is the hopelessness, is hopelessness. It's the belief that nothing good or exciting is ever going to happen to you again.

So it's not unhappiness. If you, if you have to work hard, because you lost all your money, and you have to work hard to make money, that is a challenge that that energizes you, gives you energy.

So that's unhappiness, but it gives you energy. Happiness and unhappiness energize.

Absence of happiness takes away your energy, depletes you, depresses you.

And essentially, it's a form of death, absence of happiness. Only in death there is absence of happiness.

That's in a nutshell, a few observations about happiness and related issues.


Somehow you've answered a lot of questions from my list in brief or in detail.

So I will jump to the question number three.

I missed some questions. This is horrible. No, no, it's great. I was thinking, what is a good and healthy ratio between happiness and unhappiness?

I think most of our lives, we should be unhappy. I think the healthy state is for most of our lives, we should be unhappy.

Happiness leads to conservatism. When you're happy, you want to freeze. You want to freeze. You don't want to change anything. You don't want to transform anything. You don't want to experiment. You don't want to explore. You don't want to discover. You don't want to move, because if you move, maybe it's illusion, maybe it will disappear like smoke, and you don't want this. You freeze.

We have another condition where we freeze. Trauma. In trauma, we freeze. When you're confronted with a traumatic state, the danger, extreme danger, you freeze.

Happiness also represents an extreme danger. What is the danger? Losing the happiness.

So when you're happy, there is a constant fear of loss, abandonment, anxiety, fear that you will lose the happiness.

So it freezes you. You're afraid to do anything. I think the healthy condition is to be most of the time unhappy and to strive for happiness, to desire happiness, to act in order to obtain happiness, but most of the time to not be happy, because this is the engine, this is the fuel.

That moves humanity. All humanity is working on this fuel. If you, you know, you know what is the ultimate condition, ultimate condition of depression, when all your dreams come true, when all your wishes are fulfilled, I cannot think of any more dangerous situation to the mind.

I think this would, I would become suicidal. If all my wishes came true and all my dreams come true, I would become suicidal.

So happiness is dangerous. It's a dangerous drug. And in small doses, it's healing, like every medicine. In small doses, it heals. But in two big doses, you're poisoned.

So practically, should the pursuit of happiness be one of our daily tasks? Or I don't know, should it be on our everyday to-do list?

Yes, I think it should be actually the only task. If happiness is defined the way I defined it, you remember the three components, the three ingredients, then this should be our only task.

Everything good, everything good is about failing to accomplish the goal. Only when you fail to accomplish the goal, there is a good outcome.

I will give you an example. Science. Science is investigative. The idea is that science can find the truth, but science never succeeds to find the truth. Science always fails. There is a theory today, tomorrow, we discover that it's nonsense. And there is a new theory, and a new theory, and a new theory, and like that for hundreds of years. Science is not about success. Science is about failure. And that's why it's a good thing. We should pursue happiness in order to fail in this pursuit.

Happiness should remain a goal somewhere out there, and we should always aspire to it.

Similar thing is good, for example, to be good. We cannot really be good people because we are human. None of us can be 100% good. We are sometimes evil, sometimes vicious, sometimes wicked, sometimes not nice, not kind. No one can be 100% good.

But we should aspire to be good. We should aspire, those of us who are religious are not, but those of us who are religious should aspire to God.

Is there any chance whatsoever that you will ever meet God, or if you knew God? No, it's an aspiration. Everything is an aspiration. Everything good is a process of aspiration. It's a process, not an event.

So the good dynamic is to aspire, to pursue happiness, realizing that you will never attain it, but you can get closer and closer. Same like God, same like good, same like science, same like everything important in life. You just get closer and closer. Same like love.

That's nice. I was thinking about different roles. So I was getting to the genetics and I was asking myself, what role do genetics play in determining happiness or unhappiness? And after that, I was going to clusters that are prone to happiness or to unhappiness.

Well, there's no scientific discussion of happiness. Happiness exactly like God, or these are not scientific topics. So in psychology, we don't use good and evil, not such thing. And in psychology, we do use the word happiness, but it is so ill-defined that I have no idea what these people are talking about. And I hope they do because I don't.

I read many articles about happiness and so on. They all fail to define what it is that they're talking about. So I don't think this is a serious conversation. However, we do have in psychology or clinical psychology, we do distinguish people who are functional from people who are dysfunctional. They are also known as mentally healthy and mentally ill or mentally disordered.

And functioning is perceived as a proxy for happiness. The more functional you are, presumably the more content or happy you are. That's a presumption. It's an assumption.

There are no serious studies that correlate functioning with happiness. However, there are many serious studies that correlate dysfunction with unhappiness. Again, the study of the absence of happiness is much more serious. So we know that people with mental health issues, mental health disorders, for example, personality disorders, we know they're not happy. This we know with very high certainty. However, we don't know very much what kind of people are happy. And we don't have any proof that functioning well leads to happiness. And in serious psychology, clinical psychology, not the nonsense online, but in clinical psychology, we don't discuss anything except functioning because we cannot measure anything else. We cannot capture anything else. We don't define anything else. We can define only functioning.

So this is in a nutshell. Now, this is psychology. In philosophy, the conversations are completely different in philosophy. So, as I said, there is the issue of agency, for example. Do you have agency? Do you assume control over your life? Are you authentic? That's existentialism. Are you authentic? Are you really you? Or are you just imitating other people or hands on?

So these are questions in philosophy that have to do with the human mind, the human psyche. They are philosophical, so they cannot be subjected to scientific study. And yet they touch upon some crucial elements of happiness, I think.

If you are not authentic, for example, I don't think you can ever be happy. If you're not really you, if you are imitating other people, if you're just fulfilling a social role, if you're acting, if you're pretending, if you're faking, I don't think you can be happy.

Because you don't have a you. There's no self. If you reject yourself, you cannot be happy. If you betray yourself, you cannot be happy. And by faking and pretending and acting, you're betraying yourself. So I think that's a condition.

Another condition is that you have ownership of your life. You feel that you control them. You have an external locus of control. You believe that you are in charge of your life. You determine what is happening to you at any given moment, where you are going, and so on and so forth.

The third element, I think, is that you have a cohesive narrative. You have a story within which you fit. This story incorporates your past, but also your future. You have a vision for the future. It incorporates other people, your loved ones, community, family, and so on and so forth.

So this story is a narrative. It's very important to have a balance between fantasy and reality. It's not good to be 100% in reality, because reality sucks. And if you're 100% in reality, you're not likely to survive long. And of course, it's not good to be 100% in fantasy.

Narcissists are 100% in fantasy. That's of course not good. You must maintain a balance, but the two should exist. You definitely must have a fantasy life. And if you don't have a fantasy life, you cannot be happy.

People who are too much in reality, too much in reality, let's say, very tough businessmen, very tough politicians, criminals, or too much in reality, they're usually unhappy. And people who professionally suppress themselves, actors, for example, in movies, or in theater, more in movies, when they suppress themselves, their job is to not be themselves.

These people have a much higher incidence of depression and anxiety and so on and so forth.

So they seem to be less happy than other people.


Now we have many professions where you should suppress who you are, you should suppress yourself. For example, surgeons, medical doctors in hospitals and so on, they must suppress their empathy, or they will not be able to function. In all these professions, without exception, the rate of depression is much higher than in other professions.

Wherever you need to suppress, to deny part of yourself, or who you are, that leads to very bad outcomes and a general unhappiness.

So we have indications what would make people happy as far as psychology, but they come from philosophy, not from the so-called science or psychology.


So basically it isn't detrimental to happiness, to daydream, but what about nostalgia?

Nostalgia is pain. It's another name for pain. It's highly specific type of pain, but there are many other specific types of pain. It is pain that is felt because of a loss, and the loss is the past or a specific past, and the past that includes a place and people in that place and interactions that took place with these people in that place. So it's a pain reaction. It is not conducive to health, and because it's not conducive to mental health, it's not conducive to happiness.

And it is part of a much larger phenomenon known as grief syndrome, or prolonged grief disorder, prolonged grief syndrome. It's when you grieve, you mourn for something you have lost, and you cannot stop it. You continue to, you lost someone, or you lost something, and you mourn it, you grieve, and you cannot stop. You're going to stop for one year, for two years, for 10 years, for 20 years, for... You just cannot stop. This is unhealthy, of course.

Any fixation on the past and any fixation on the future are unhealthy and will never lead to happiness. If you are too focused on your past, you blame your parents for something, or you analyze mistakes that you made, or you miss some location, some place, nostalgia. These are all fixations on the past. Or if you're fixated on the future, you're constantly fantasizing and daydreaming, but you never do anything in present.

So these two types of fixation are not healthy.

The only healthy thing, the only possibility of evidence, is to be in the present. This is what we teach in mindfulness and so on, but to be in the present, and to be in the present within your body, and within your mind, to be fully aware and integrated with your body, and with your mind in the present. It doesn't mean you have to be an idiot.

Of course, you can learn a lot from the past, and of course, you should plan for the future, but your emotional investment should be only in the present, never in the past, and never in the future. You should not be emotionally invested in what is no more, and you should not be emotionally invested in what is not here yet, because these are fantasies.

This is not reality. The past is not reality. The future is not reality, not anymore.

So this is a choice of fantasy over reality, and that's what I said earlier.

If there is imbalance between reality and fantasy, it's bad. The study is therefore bad. It's a form of prolonged grief of loss, which is past fixated, and sacrifices the present, and that's bad, and that's a condition for unhappiness.


Any fixation on the past is a fantasy, because the past is no more. It's gone. So it's a fantasy. So it's a decision to sacrifice reality in favor of fantasy.

There's a pain of loss, but you're stuck in the past, and that's not healthy, and will never make you happy.


Grief should be limited. Grief is saying goodbye. When we say goodbye at the end of this session, you're not going to tell me goodbye for one year. You're going to tell me goodbye for two seconds, no? And we say goodbye. But if you insisted to tell me goodbye for one year, I would know that something is very wrong with you, and maybe you're a very unhappy person.

Grief is saying goodbye. You lost a loved one. You lost a loved one. You say goodbye, but you must say goodbye and move on and finish the Zoom meeting. You must click "exit this session". That's it.


Okay, that's interesting. I have a friend that's looking back to the past, and I find myself pretty much looking into the future and not acting in the present.

And that's why that's one of the key things that I want to address in the future, starting from today. That must mean that something in the present frightens you, or you feel bad about, or you're unhappy with. Something in the present is threatening. Something in the present is you want to avoid.

And this is where you should focus. But definitely you cannot be happy under these conditions. Without present orientation, mindfulness, you cannot be happy.

You talked earlier about being authentic, and I was somehow asking myself, when do you know that you are closer to your authentic being? I don't know, maybe 90% of you exactly being yourself, not just imagining.

Bigger minds than mine. Jean-Paul Sartre and others have written about this. Of course, Kierkegaard, all the big existentialists, they dealt with the issue of authenticity, especially Sartre.

But I would give you a kind of instrument or tool, how to find the authentic part. In your mind, there are voices. They talk to you all the time. You're not listening because there's a lot of outside noise, and the outside noise is drowning the inside noise.

But if you were to isolate yourself and sit quietly and do nothing, you will begin to hear these voices. They talk to you all the time. You need to write them down. Write these voices down.

One of them says, "Andrei, don't do this." One of them says, "Andrei, you should do this." You write all the voices down. If you can think of another person in your life who is saying the same thing, it's not your voice.

So if there is a voice inside your head and it is saying something, and there is another person in your life, not generally, in your life who is saying the same thing, that means it's not your voice.


When you are left with the only voice where you can find no parallel, no other person in your life who is saying who said the same or is saying the same, that is you. That is the authentic you.

You have the voices of your mother and your father and your teachers and your peers. There are many voices. Your mother tells you it's not good to not brush your teeth. Your father tells you you should flirt with a girl this way, not that way, and so on. And all these voices are there.

So when you don't brush your teeth, you feel very guilty. And there's a voice that tells you it's not okay not to brush your teeth. That's really, really bad behavior. And it's a reasonable voice and a voice worth listening to. But it's not your voice. It's not you. It's not who you are.

When you write down all these voices, you will find to your amazement that you have hundreds of them and that only one of them is you. And that voice is the authentic self. And from that moment on, you should listen to that voice only to that voice.

I'm not saying not to learn from other voices, but to guide your life only according to this voice, not to let anyone else guide your life.

When you have an external locus of control, when other people define your life, influence your life, determine your life, direct your life, guide your life, in such a situation, you can never be happy.

Happiness involves total ownership of your life, total control over your life, total decision making as to who you are and where you're going. And this cannot be accomplished if other voices have too much influence and too much input.

You need to isolate you. And it's very difficult because you're drowning, your small one voice is drowning in hundreds of other voices.

And it's also very difficult because we lie to ourselves. Gradually, we begin to believe that these voices are us. So these voices are me, it's not my mother, it's me. I believe I should brush my teeth. We internalize this process is called introjection. We introject these voices, they become us. So it's very difficult.

But the tool I gave you is very simple. Just find another person who is saying the same thing and it's not you.

We have to end up, wait five minutes and click again.

Exactly. I would like to.

I don't think I can right now. I'm recording. If you want, I will send you the two files, don't worry.

Okay. No problem. Okay. So I would like to ask you if you can tell me a lot more on the idea of not thinking, looking over the unhappiness. Because I'm really trying to find the backbone for the documentary. And this is somehow a very new approach. But if you believe me, the first name for the documentary was unhappy. So that's why it comes back to one of my first ideas. And that's why maybe I should go on this path. It's very common in philosophy and science that we have difficulty to define something. And the only way to define it is via its absence or via its negation.

So for example, what is health? What is to be healthy?

It is the absence of a disease. Health is absence of disease. There's no other definition.

Similarly, what is, I think, the best definition of happiness is the absence of unhappiness.

So if we want to study something, it's much easier to study the negation of that something.

As I told you, unhappiness or absence of happiness, lack of happiness, is universal. People are happy in different ways, but they are unhappy in the same ways.

So it's applicable to everyone in all cultures and civilizations and societies and periods in history. People have been unhappy exactly the same way. That is why old ancient writings, such as the Bible, resonate with us. The human experience is the same for the last 10,000 years.

People in the Bible have been unhappy exactly the same way we are unhappy. But happiness in the Bible, in the times of the Bible, was very different to happiness today.

As I told you, today we equate happiness with consumption. Consumption of goods, consumption of people.

In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, happiness meant prosperity and contribution to the collective.

For example, when the founding fathers of the United States wrote the United States Constitution, they wrote, "Every man has an inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness." And today we understand, every man has a right to buy an iPhone. But that's not what they meant. They meant every man has the right to contribute to his society, to his community, to his collective.

That's what they meant, actually. There was a definition of the word happiness at that time.

So happiness changes too much from one individual to the next, from one society to the next, from one period of history to the next. It's meaningless to study.

But if you study unhappiness, you're on solid ground. Because unhappiness in Ghana, in India, in Romania, in Macedonia, in Russia, in Israel, in Turkey is the same. We are all unhappy the same way.

And also, it would finally lead you to the goal of defining happiness. Because happiness would be an absence of these conditions. Once you specify all the conditions of unhappiness, then what is left is happiness. It's like Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes said, "If you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, however improbable, must be the truth." If you eliminate all conditions of unhappiness, whatever is left must be happiness.

And we do this in many, many fields. In many, many fields we do.

For example, black holes, black holes in astrophysics. You cannot see a black hole because it absorbs the light. There's nothing you can say about black hole. But what is happening around the black hole, that defines the black hole. So the black hole is defined by its negation.

As I said, health is defined as absence of illness. And so on and so forth. I think it's much more realistic project to focus on unhappiness. And at the end, you will find that you have defined happiness also.

Darkness and light. Same with darkness and light.

What is darkness? Can you define darkness positively? No, darkness is the absence of light. There's no such thing as darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Simple.

Yeah, that's a very, very nice way of looking at it. And maybe that's why in the beginning, I was looking at unhappiness because the first naming was Ne Fericire, which in Romanian is unhappiness. And yeah, it was also a little water play because we cut the "a ne" and it was like "Pericire happiness without the unhappiness." But somehow the idea remains. And right now, the naming is, let me translate it, around happiness. Somehow that's the meaning. Because we are always in the presence of happiness, from my point of view. But sometimes we don't know. We don't even bother to look or we don't even... If you believe that happiness comes from outside, which is capitalistic thinking, happiness comes from outside.

So you must consume the outside. You must eat. You must buy. You must have sex. You must consume the outside.

If you believe that happiness comes from outside, that means that whenever you cannot consume, you would be frustrated. You would feel like a failure. And that means if any minute that you don't consume, you would be unhappy.

This definition of happiness is dependent upon outside stimuli and outside events and outside people and so on. Guarantees that you will be most of the time, unhappy.

But of course, if happiness is a state of being, if it's an internal condition, if it has to do with how you manage your life, whether you respect yourself, whether you act with dignity, whether you contribute to your community, whether things that are dependent on you. If you're in control, if you're in charge, if you own your life, then you will be most of the time happy, not unhappy.

Internal locus of control guarantees happiness. External locus of control guarantees unhappiness.

When you depend on other people, dependency is one of the forms of unhappiness because it guarantees frustration and aggression also.

So we need to shift the perception of happiness as hedonistic and having to do with consumption.

By the way, the word consumption until the end of the 19th century meant illness. When you had consumption, you died.

So I'm not kidding. The word consumption in English until the end of the 19th century meant deadly illness. Similarly, in the 16th century, the word silly, silly today means stupid, an idiot. If I tell you you're silly, you're being silly. You're being stupid. But the word silly in the 16th century meant happy, fortunate person.

So when I wanted to tell you in the 16th century, you look happy, I would tell you you look silly. And you begin to see how the language is giving you clues, giving you hints. The language is telling you consumption is sick. The language is telling you if you think you can capture happiness, if you think you can understand happiness, you're silly. The language is telling you that happiness is fortunate. It depends on fortune when you're silly. When you're being silly, you think that happiness depends on the outside, on fortune. That's why you're silly.

The language is directing you. All human wisdom is embedded in language.

When we study etymology, we find everything. You don't need philosophy, you're doing it in psychology, you study language.

So the roots of words as they evolved and so on, the perception of happiness began to be external in the 15th, 16th, mainly 16th century.

The perception of happiness is coming from outside. And at that point, the word was silly. And then later, it became dependent on consumption, which was the name of a deadly disease.

And nothing else, by the way, just deadly disease. There was no consumption to buy things. So it's indicative, it's very important to study the language, what the language is saying.

By the way, in psychology, for example, when you study psychology, you understand how divorced we are from wisdom of the ages.

For example, in psychology, when I want to say that you are incapable of being happy, you have a mental problem, psychological problem, that you cannot be happy. I would say that you have unhedonia. Unhedonia, you are not capable of hedonism. I'm not kidding. You are not capable of hedonism, so you cannot be happy. You are not capable of pleasure, so you cannot be happy. Unhedonia is treated as a pathology.

Being incapable of hedonism, treated as a pathology.

When I say actually, that being incapable of hedonism is a condition for habits. And I'm not the only one who is saying that there's a huge tradition of wise people all over thousands of years that are same. Take another thing. In psychology, we don't say people. The word people or persons is not used. We say objects.

So, for example, when we want to say relationships between people, we call it object relations. Whenever you read in psychology text, and there is the word object, it means human being. It tells you a lot about the thinking of psychology because psychology started off essentially as a tool for social control.

Psychology was started in Germany by Wund. He established a laboratory and he studied the physiological reactions of people to a variety of stimuli. It was intended to feed into advertising consumption. That's how psychology started.

Psychology was always hand in hand with capitalism, with control, with of course in the USSR, psychology or psychiatry was used to suppress dissidents. But in the West, it's not much different.

If you are you know, if you are too way out of line, they call you a narcissist or psychopath. What is a narcissist or psychopath? It's the intrusion of psychology into social control discourse.

If you stigmatize me, if you demonize me and you call me narcissist, you call me psychopath because I disagree with you. That means you are abusing psychology to damage me somehow.

Psychology is an instrument of social control and pseudoscience is not a science. But the very language of psychology is very indicative of the mindset. It's a capitalistic consumption mindset.

Anhedonia, object relations. I have a lot to think about and to read about right now because you started with me.

Okay, so right now I think I somehow covered all my questions and I have a lot of new questions that I need to take care of and to plan ahead because I need somehow to put them in order and maybe, yeah exactly, and maybe if you are kind enough when we will be almost ready.

If you want, we can talk a little bit like 10 minutes or 15 minutes about it because somehow I need a little bit of guidance and I think you can help me with that.

My pleasure, I chose this puzzle, don't worry.

My pleasure. Thank you so much. We say goodbye for now and we will meet again.

Yeah, exactly. I will stay up there, I remember. By the way, let me just find the recorder button.

Good. [laughs].

If you enjoyed this article, you might like the following:

Desert Wisdom for Couple Therapy, Business

Professor Sam Vaknin suggests an old Bedouin trick to resolve differences in couples or among conflicting parties. The trick involves both members of the couple compiling a list of assets, priorities, wishes, dreams, expectations, and preferences. One member of the couple divides the list into two equal groups, and the other member of the couple selects which of the two parcels would belong to him or her. This procedure guarantees fairness in the division of property and empathy, forcing both parties to consider each other.


Avoid 3 Errors in Search of Meaning in Life

In this transcript, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the human search for meaning and the three mistakes we make when trying to find it. He argues that we should let the path choose us, rather than trying to choose our own path, and that we already have all the answers we need, but lack the ability to identify them. He also suggests that we should focus on asking the right questions, rather than seeking the correct answers, and that relationships and love are the foundation of meaning. Finally, he quotes the Dalai Lama, who suggests that many people sacrifice their health and present happiness for the sake of money and the future, ultimately dying without having truly lived.


Transhumanism: Culture Replaces Evolution (with Benny Hendel)

Dual inheritance theory, or gene-culture co-evolution, suggests that humans develop both genetically and biologically, as well as through culture or civilization. Culture, as the totality of human creativity, is a form of evolution that can shape humans and their offspring. This control over evolution through culture allows humans to adapt to diverse habitats and environments. However, the future of human evolution could be influenced by the choices made in using culture and technology, potentially leading to a more narcissistic and psychopathic society.


Nothingness and You in Buddhism and Daoism

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses his philosophical system of life, called nothingness, as an antidote to narcissism. He draws from Eastern influences, particularly Buddhism and Taoism, to explore the concepts of hope, love, and success, and their toxic effects on individual freedoms and authentic being. He emphasizes the interdependence of nothingness and existence, and the role of emptiness in generating value and function in the universe. His philosophy is a synthesis of Western and Eastern thinking, aiming to provide a new perspective on life.


Questions My (Late) Goldfish Asked Me about Meaning of Life

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of meaning in life, arguing that it is subjective, arbitrary, and consensus-driven. He explores the relationship between essence, existence, and meaning, and questions whether meaning can exist without a designer. Vaknin also examines the role of context in determining meaning and encourages listeners to find their own answers to the complex and multifaceted concept of meaning.


Relationships Inauthentic, Will Always Fail (Sartre's "Being and Nothingness", SECOND LECTURE)

The text discusses Sartre's views on desire, consciousness, and freedom. Sartre introduces the concept of desire as motivated by a lack or absence, and discusses the inherent contradiction in desire. He also delves into the nature of consciousness and the limitations of freedom. The text explores Sartre's ideas on authenticity and ethics, and his belief that values are auto-generated through individual choices. The author reflects on Sartre's contributions and his impact on philosophical discourse.


Gender Dysphoria: Real or Social Contagion? (And Detransitioning)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the lack of scientific research on gender dysphoria and the phenomenon of detransitioning. He emphasizes the need for more long-term studies to better understand the experiences of transgender individuals and those who detransition. Vaknin also calls for the transgender community to be more open to diverse voices and experiences, and for the scientific community to take gender dysphoria more seriously and conduct rigorous research on the topic.


Are You Sure You Are Human?

The lecture explores the question of what it means to be human and how it is becoming increasingly difficult to define. The traditional definition of being human as being distinct from animals and machines is no longer tenable due to evolutionary and technological advancements. The uniqueness of humans may lie in their behavioral unpredictability and awareness of mortality. The lecture also discusses the dethroning of humans in the Western worldview and the recent resurgence of individualism in various fields. The internet is seen as a manifestation of this resurgence, but social media and the attention economy may reverse this trend.


Nature vs. Nurture? BOTH

The distinction between nature and nurture is a false dichotomy, as genes are natural but constitute an internal environment that is reactive to the external environment. The activation of certain genes is passed on through generations, and the internal environment operates on aspects of the external environment, affecting it. The concept of nature is a romantic invention, and the dualism of man versus nature is universally acknowledged but false. Man is part of nature, and all species modify their environment and ecosystems. The false dichotomy reduces our ability to understand the interlocking mechanisms that shape us.


We are Nothing but Time: Chronon Field Theory (with Benny Hendel)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses his work on chronome field theory, which aims to simplify physics by using time as a force with a field and a single particle called a chronon. The chronon has different excitation states that correspond to various aspects of physics, such as mass and energy. By using these two principles, Vaknin claims that all existing theories in physics can be derived, including string theory and quantum field theory.

Transcripts Copyright © Sam Vaknin 2010-2024, under license to William DeGraaf
Website Copyright © William DeGraaf 2022-2024
Get it on Google Play
Privacy policy