As Humanity In General Feels More Depressed, Emptier And More Afraid Of The Future Than Ever, The Search For The Right Definition Of ‘Happiness’ Is On
Robert Skidelsky, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University and a fellow of the British Academy in history and economics writes in his article “Happiness Is Equality“:
…The king of Bhutan wants to make us all happier. Governments, he says, should aim to maximize their people’s Gross National Happiness rather than their Gross National Product. Does this new emphasis on happiness represent a shift or just a passing fad?
It is easy to see why governments should de-emphasize economic growth when it is proving so elusive. The eurozone is not expected to grow at all this year. The British economy is contracting. Greece’s economy has been shrinking for years. Even China is expected to slow down. Why not give up growth and enjoy what we have?
No doubt this mood will pass when growth revives, as it is bound to. Nevertheless, a deeper shift in attitude toward growth has occurred, which is likely to make it a less important lodestar in the future – especially in rich countries…
…More equality would not only produce the contentment that flows from more security and better health, but also the satisfaction that flows from having more leisure, more time with family and friends, more respect from one’s fellows, and more lifestyle choices. Great inequality makes us hungrier for goods than we would otherwise be, by constantly reminding us that we have less than the next person. We live in a pushy society with turbo-charged fathers and “tiger” mothers, constantly goading themselves and their children to “get ahead.”…”
The Greatest Mistake People Make When Assessing Themselves Is Separating Themselves From The Surrounding Natural System, As If Humans Were Above, Separate of The Natural Environment
The situation is more simple than people think.
People tend to forget who they are. Humans are not some special aliens, disconnected from the rest of living creatures or the natural system they live in, but they are part of it.
Humans still belong to the group of mammals, the biological human body does not differ from other sophisticated mammals apart from small differences, the whole body and even the psyche is working based on the same laws and principles.
And what is called “happiness” in biological terms is an overall balance, homeostasis within the actual ecosystem, and in this case this ecosystem exists within a single human being, within human society and between human society and the rest of the vast surrounding natural system.
Happiness, the feeling of balance, the ease people can settle in life depends on how optimally they take part in the system with harmony.
Problems Humanity Experiences Today Stems From The Fact That The Present Human Socio-Economic System Is In Direct Opposition To Nature’s Law Of Balance
The constant quantitative growth lifestyle stubbornly pressed on despite it obviously collapsing is unnatural, it is going completely against the natural laws in the surrounding environment.
At the moment humans behave like cancer within the natural system. With the present system humans harm themselves, we have the human induced disease statistics – depression, divorce, substance abuse statistics and the collapse of basically – all human institutions as proof. Besides humans harm the general human society witnessed through social inequalities, growing national and international tensions, future-less and jobless youth, and humans harm the environment where again the proof is obvious from global warming to countless species extinction, ocean and air pollution, and so on.
Growth In A Closed And Finite, Interconnected System Has To Be Qualitative, Optimizing, Refining The Interconnections Aimed At The Well-Being Of The Whole System
The article claims that “growth is bound to return” but the return of quantitative growth is impossible. The laws surrounding humanity are unbreakable and if the human species is planning to survive with the evolutionary process, humanity has to adapt to the natural system instead of trying to bend it to match its selfish and greedy desires. The growth that is possible from now on is qualitative, like the maturing biological body after growth has finished.
As the whole global human network has evolved into the interconnected and interdependent state, from now on the processes should concentrate on changing our attitudes and relationships according to this interdependence. In other words, how to use interconnections in the most optimal way for the benefit of the whole organism, how to refine the whole system primed for overall harmony and balance.
We do not stand a chance, as the awesome natural forces during natural catastrophes show us we are no match for them: nature around us will not change, only we can.
Equality Within Human Society Has To Be Coupled With An Attitude And Approach That Is Based On The Unbreakable Laws Of The Natural, Living Ecosystem
Returning to the main theme of the quoted article, equality in itself does not lead to happiness. If we are equal in our tendency to exploit everything and everyone for our own favor, that would just lead to further destruction. This attitude led to the global crisis humanity is sinking in at the moment.
Thus social equality has to be coupled with the right attitude, an inclination towards a mutually benevolent relationships among people on a global scale.
Humanity has to climb down from the high pedestal and start researching and understanding the surrounding natural system from a new viewpoint. Not from the point of exploitation – how people can use nature for their own “misunderstood well-being” – but how they can learn nature’s laws so humanity can become a partner in the system, helping in the maintenance of the general balance and homoeostasis, and enjoying unprecedented quality of life through this approach.
Image: “55. cancer-information” by Tips Times from Flickr