MWT Controversy 6 – Happiness

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -United States Declaration of Independence

Why include ‘pursuit of happiness’?

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
-UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Why NOT include ‘pursuit of happiness’?

What Is Happiness
• Is happiness getting what we want?
• Or is it the experience of pleasure?
• Or is it an overall state of well-being?
• Do we know what makes us happy?
• Do we know what WILL make us happy? (Are you sure?)

Dan Gilbert is a Harvard psychologist and author of the national bestseller Stumbling on Happiness. “Gilbert believes that, in our ardent, lifelong pursuit of happiness, most of us have the wrong map. In the same way that optical illusions fool our eyes — and fool everyone’s eyes in the same way — Gilbert argues that our brains systematically misjudge what will make us happy. And these quirks in our cognition make humans very poor predictors of our own bliss.”
FULL TED BIODaniel Gilbert’s WebsiteDaniel Gilbert Blog

“It is only when your brain predicts badly that you suddenly feel avocado.” -Daniel Gilbert

Thoughts & Questions
• Do we know what makes others happy?
• Is happiness quantifiable?
• How many Americans do you think describe themselves as “very happy”? Harris Poll
• Can/should we make “happiness” decisions for others on a grand scale?
• The UN thinks so. The Washington Post
• Should happiness be the goal of policy-making? World Happiness Report
• Back at the beginning: Why include ‘pursuit of happiness’?

TED Talks Happiness Playlist (13 Talks)
Time Magazine – The Happiness of Pursuit
Economist Deirdre McCloskey – a rebuttal on measuring happines

4 Comments on “MWT Controversy 6 – Happiness

  1. Dan’s description of our “badly working simulators” reminded me of the chattering parts of our minds that never, or rarely, get it right. That could be a description of our EGOS, from the 12 steps. Some call it the monkey mind, that never stops. These are good descriptions of the suffering that Buddha talked about. Jesus asks his followers to follow his sayings to find the kingdom, of peace. I am aware, that few followers do that, even though really believing in Jesus, would be demonstrated by using his sayings, to find his mind. You can live in the present without a need for a badly working simulator. For me, finally finding a quiet mind in my 40s, has led to increasing happiness and quiet. IF you believe that peace of mind brings happiness, I found a book that reminds me of a path that can help anyone, that does the work: “the untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself” the title is not in caps, as a metaphor. and yes, your ego will resist as a challenge.

  2. to Tera:

    For six sessions, I (and I suspect others) experienced Happiness! You helped create something very special for us, indeed~Thank you.


    “Happiness is a Choice” by Barry Neil Kaufman

    You will learn more about the choices possible for happiness in the latest versions of “Son Rise: The Miracle Continues”. You see, you will learn about community and service and self healing, when working towards healing children on the autistic spectrum. Those that did the hard work, ended up happier and more healed. Google “Option Institute”.

  4. I am reading a fascinating book about the history and political sausage making that led to the final version of the declaration of independence. The title is “American Scripture:Making the Declaration of Independence”. Here is a URL to the site for the book:

    There is a long discussion about the history of the “pursuit of happiness” clause we discussed last week and it’s meaning to the American people at the time. Here is a quote from the New Hampshire Bill of Rights drafted in 1784.

    All men have certain natural,essential, and inherent rights; among which are–the enjoying and defending life and liberty–acquiring, possessing, and protecting property–and in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness.

    Note the phrase, “in a word”. So according to the book and the authors of the New Hampshire declaration, happiness is all of the above: life, liberty, and property. I agree with that point. Happiness is all the above: having around us things and/or people that make us –happy– and having the freedom (including the time and opportunity) to enjoy them.