Happiness is a moral obligation

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

— Abraham Lincoln

Dennis Prager is a conservative talk show host who is unique in my view for his intellectual heft.  I first heard him talking about this subject several years ago and after considering it for a bit I realized that he is right.  He has written a book on the topic, but his basic premise is summed up in his article Happiness Is a Moral Obligation:

Consider the effects of an unhappy parent on a child. Ask people raised by an unhappy parent if that unhappiness hurt them.

Consider the effects of an unhappy spouse on a marriage.

Consider the effects of unhappy children on their parents. I know a couple that has four middle-aged children of whom three are truly extraordinary people, inordinately well adjusted and decent. The fourth child has been unhappy most of his life and has been a never-ending source of pain to the parents. That one child’s unhappiness has always overshadowed the joy that the parents experience from the other three children. Hence the saying that one is no happier than one’s least happy child.

Consider the effects of a brooding co-worker on your and your fellow workers’ morale — not to mention the huge difference between working for a happy or a moody employer.

We should regard bad moods as we do offensive body odor. Just as we shower each day so as not to inflict our body odors on others, so we should monitor our bad moods so as not to inflict them on others. We shower partly for ourselves and partly out of obligation to others.

He makes the same basic point in the following youtube video:

Note:  I went to his web site and noticed that one of his main topics is male/female relations, and he has a CD set out on Men’s Sexual Nature.  I sent him a quick email to see if he has heard or read anything about game.  I heard him speaking on the basic topic a few months ago while in the car.  He is a solid thinker so his advice struck me as generally pretty good, but I think he is missing the pieces which game could provide.  I’ll follow up in the comments section if I hear back from him.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Happiness is a moral obligation

  1. aspiringlady says:

    I agree with this. I am worried that in presenting this idea that people will assume that this moral obligation of happiness will give the a moral obligation to divorce in an unhappy marriage though, under the assumption that the unhappiness inflicted on the children and spouse by the unhappy member would be solved by divorce. Go out and FIND your happiness Eat Pray Love style and your family with will be better off because you are “happy.”. How do you make the distinction between telling people they have a moral obligation to be happy, and telling them not to go on a destructive “journey of self discovery” for happiness? The whole “but I’m not HAAAAAAAPPYY!!” issue?

  2. Doomed Harlot says:

    I agree with this post. And I agree with Dennis Prager, whom I usually find odious. Does this mean that hell has frozen over and pigs have grown wings?

    I have always known that happiness is a moral obligation. A lot of that obligation has to do with, as Prager points out, the effects our unhappiness can have on others in our lives. But I am also very conscious of the efforts many people have undergone for the sake of the happiness of the current generation. Our mothers didn’t undergo the rigors and pain of pregnancy and childbirth so we could grow up to be miserable. Our parents didn’t sacrifice and toil away to give us a healthy, decent life so that we could feel sorry for ourselves. On a macro level, the previous generations that have fought and thought and labored to create the best society they could come up with did so (at least in the U.S.) so that we could “pursue happiness.” Let’s not turn the blood, sweat, and tears of prior generations into a waste of their time. Also for the religious, if one believes in a creator (although I do not), it stands to reason that the creator would want the individual to enjoy the fact of his or her creation and to enjoy the rest of the created world.

    The devil, as aspiringlady points out, is in the details. We have an obligation to pursue our own happiness, but we also have an obligation to work towards, or at least not interfere with, the happiness of others. The problem, therefore, is how best to balance one’s own need for happiness with the happiness of others. One needs to be constantly vigilant and thoughtful about whether one’s own pursuit of happiness is having an adverse impact on others. On the other hand, one shouldn’t be so self-abnegating as to tolerate poor treatment. To give an extreme example, a slave shouldn’t be morally obligated to be happy with his situation. Progress has often been a product of people unhappy with their situation standing up and doing something to change it — the Founding Fathers, suffragists, feminists, labor organizers, Civil Rights activists, and on and on. Or for conservatives, there are the Founding Fathers, the Tea Party activists, gun-rights activists, and others.

    Freedom for the individual is a prerequisite to the pursuit of happiness for many, if not most, people. Without freedom, the individual cannot structure his or her life to provide that moral balance between one’s own happiness and the happiness of others to whom one has undertaken an obligation (spouse, children, employers or employees, etc.)

  3. Cal says:

    I came to much the same conclusion earlier this year, although I came to it from the other direction, so to speak.

    In March, I found out my wife was progressing toward leaving me and having an affair. It was Athol Kay who clued me in to the idea that you can’t argue your way into persuading (i.e., guilting) your wife to stay and not cheat, but rather that you have to become a more attractive and desirable person.

    This insight helped me realize that I was not, overall, a desirable person to be around, owing to the fact I was one of the generally unhappy people depicted in Mr Prager’s video. No exercise. No goals. No friends. No hobbies. Just work and chores and Internet arguments.

    All that ended more or less overnight — the same night I opened my wife’s emails and discovered a 4-month relationship with a man I didn’t know (which she was hiding). I’ll never forget it — March 11, 2011, the day my life changed.

    I soon came to the conclusion that I was choosing to be unhappy for the specific purpose of inflicting my unhappiness on my wife. This was my unconsciously-chosen method of trying to get her to acknowledge the root of my unhappiness, to soothe my wounded feelings, feel sorry for me, and generally give in to what I wanted from her. Passive-aggressive manipulation, in other words. Once I saw what I was doing, and why, I decided to stop inflicting my unhappiness on her. That all ended overnight, too.

    “Don’t inflict your unhappiness on the people around you” is the negative way of putting it. “Happiness is a moral obligation” is the positive, affirmative way of saying the same thing.

  4. Doomed Harlot says:

    I should admit that I have at times struggled mightily with the blues — maybe not an out-and-out depression but periods of de-motivation and listlessness. So I have given a lot of thought about how to keep these at bay. My tips for staying happy and positive are probably well-known and common, but here goes anyway: (1) Sufficient sleep; (2) Good nutrition; (3) Daily exercise; (4) Giving myself permission ofr some form of pleasure every day — in my case, 30 minutes of pleasure reading when I first wake up, or if I am really busy, 15 minutes; (5) Incorporating some socializing with friends and family every week if possible; (6) Actively doing something to change the situation if something is making me unhappy; (7) Trying to keep a sense of perspective — is the thing that is wearing me down now going to matter in a year or 5 years?; and (8) Corny as it sounds, focusing on the positive — my husband, my dog, my job, my health, and living in one of the greatest eras in one of the greatest civilizations in history.

  5. Dan in Philly says:

    I side with Thomas Aquinas on this one: Happiness is the normal and optimal state of man. The question is how are we perusing it, and the answer is generally wrongly. The default outlook on life in the western world is materialism, and the pursuit of happiness is generally a pursuit of consumerism. Aquinas rightly takes this absurd notion to task (as indeed does the author of “Ecclesiastes”) as hollow.

    As far as Prager’s point, I have concluded that I should strive to make those in my life happy, but their happiness is ultimately their responsibility (as my happiness is mine). Just as you cannot argue someone into love, you cannot argue someone into happiness, therefore your moral responsibility ends at providing the structure of happiness, not in actually providing it. Thus an unhappy child is indeed a source of sorrow for their sake, but not a source of despair for a parent with a clear moral conscience. In other words, I can choose to be happy even if my spouse or children choose not to be.

  6. Lavazza says:

    The trick is to not be friends with the unhappy. That will only drag you down with them. Compassion works, but having unhappy people around you as friends is a danger.

    1.33 In relationships, the mind becomes purified by cultivating feelings of friendliness towards those who are happy, compassion for those who are suffering, goodwill towards those who are virtuous, and indifference or neutrality towards those we perceive as wicked or evil.
    (maitri karuna mudita upekshanam sukha duhka punya apunya vishayanam bhavanatah chitta prasadanam)

    [D: Interesting.]

  7. Cal says:

    As profoundly insightful and important Mr. Prager’s insight is, I do disagree with one thing — the part where he casually lump “an unhappy child” in with “an unhappy co-worker.”

    Parents have nearly full control over the lives of their children. Children do not have the moral duty to exhibit happiness to their parents in the same sense as an adult has the moral duty to exhibit happiness to other adults, or to children, or to one’s spouse.

    In the parent-child relationship, particularly as to children under 7 or so, all of the duties lie with the parent. Other than (extremely rare) instances of children with biochemical, medical problems, the unhappiness of a child is attributable to the failings of the parent.

    Children instinctively adapt themselves to the needs of their parents. They do this to survive, because human children are immature and dependent for an extremely long time (10 years), compared to other animals (measured in days or weeks). As a result, children will excuse and tolerate just about anything a parent does, and will blame themselves for every harm their parents inflict on them.

    It’s safe to say that an openly unhappy child is, almost always, unequivocal proof of a bad parent.

    Being a parent is like being the captain of a ship — all the responsibility ultimately falls on you.

    [D: I agree. That part struck me as well. I think the message is sound if you assume the child is the audience. Even a child can benefit from the frame of mind he presents. But parents of young children should see themselves as the responsible ones.]

  8. Lavazza says:

    Contentment is part of the 5*2 yogic guide lines.

    2.42 From an attitude of contentment (santosha), unexcelled happiness, mental comfort, joy, and satisfaction is obtained.
    (santosha anuttamah sukha labhah)

  9. Eric says:

    Dalrock:
    Like Doomed Harlot, I mostly find Praeger pretty odious. Most of what I’ve heard from him on relationships sounds like the typical Socialcon/Mangina party line. I think he’s been divorced two or three times himself; which I guess shows about what his relationship expertise is really worth.
    He’s also very much linked into Daniel Lapin’s ‘Toward Tradition’ and various other Socialcon front-groups. Lapin’s said many times that ‘women are the civilizing power over men’ and that ‘women have all the power in relationships’; and basically is the source of most of the other mangina/misandryist commentaries that come out these neo-Puritans. He and Praegar pass for deep thinkers among the Socialcons. I think Lapin is on his second or third marriage as well.
    It cannot also be forgotten that both these men were educated in rabbinical theological schools, and are engaged in considerable proselytising.

  10. Doomed Harlot says:

    Eric, I think the ‘”women have a civilizing influence over men” line is deliberate BS on the part of the folks who spout it. Obviously, it’s insulting to both sexes but I think men like Prager put up with it because they don’t actually believe that it’s true. It’s just a little fantasy they put out there to encourage women to stay in their place while allowing them to save a little bit of face. The women who spout it have foolishly bought into the myth because it allows them to shore up their ego even as they embrace, or at least advocate, their own subordinate status.
    The fact is that meekly submitting to a man (or to anyone) doesn’t encourage that person to behave better. At best, it has no effect because a good man was going to be good anyway. At worst, it appeases a bully and encourages him to go on bullying. It is also a fact that women are not angels, but human beings, and thus just as likely to engage in atrocity as men. Women, throughout history, have at times been enthusiastic war-mongers, slave-holders, and murderers, just as men have. We truly are no better and no worse than you are.

  11. Dalrock says:

    @Eric

    Like Doomed Harlot, I mostly find Praeger pretty odious. Most of what I’ve heard from him on relationships sounds like the typical Socialcon/Mangina party line. I think he’s been divorced two or three times himself; which I guess shows about what his relationship expertise is really worth.

    I do agree that he seems to be missing quite a bit about women’s sexual nature; I think he would benefit a great deal from learning about game.

    I wasn’t aware of his personal history regarding divorce. After reading your comment I did a bit of searching and found a column where he argues against what he sees as the standard conservative view shaming divorce. Obviously I take a different view, but part of what I like about him is how clearly he articulates his argument. When I disagree with him I’m able to understand exactly where we disagree and why. Again while I disagree, his defense of divorce is probably the best I have read. There are also parts I can agree with. For example:

    By far, the worst consequence of divorce is the large number of fathers who voluntarily or involuntarily (because of selfish ex-wives or feminized laws) leave the lives of their children.

    I also generally agree with his statement here:

    Let me be as clear as language allows. I believe that most marriages should never come apart; that every good marriage has periods of alienation and anger; that people must ride these tough waves and try to improve their marriage. I even believe that it is wrong to automatically divorce when one’s spouse has an extramarital affair.

    And a little further down:

    If conservatives want to enter the divorce arena, we should change divorce laws to ensure joint physical custody whenever feasible and that people first seek counseling with professionals committed to the welfare of children rather than attorneys devoted to ruining the other spouse’s life.

  12. Dalrock says:

    @aspiringlady

    I agree with this. I am worried that in presenting this idea that people will assume that this moral obligation of happiness will give the a moral obligation to divorce in an unhappy marriage though, under the assumption that the unhappiness inflicted on the children and spouse by the unhappy member would be solved by divorce. Go out and FIND your happiness Eat Pray Love style and your family with will be better off because you are “happy.”. How do you make the distinction between telling people they have a moral obligation to be happy, and telling them not to go on a destructive “journey of self discovery” for happiness? The whole “but I’m not HAAAAAAAPPYY!!” issue?

    Not surprisingly I’m right there with you on that question. From the article I quote and the video I think he is clearly making a different case than the EPL one. He is almost game like in his “fake it til you make it” approach, recognizing that our attitudes can affect our feelings. After seeing Eric’s comments and doing some more research though I’m not sure he rules the EPL view out.

    My own argument is that we have a moral obligation to be happy, but that it isn’t an excuse to be immoral in our pursuit of happiness. If I convince myself that I can only be happy with several million dollars, this isn’t a moral justification to steal, for example. By the same token, one who decides they would be happier if they didn’t have to keep their solemn vow still has an obligation to keep their vow.

    Part of the problem is the difficulty in knowing what will in fact make us happy*. People almost always marry because they think on some level they will be happier than if they didn’t marry. If you approach it as a true lifetime commitment however, it follows that this is serious business and that you have a moral obligation to be as certain as possible that this is what you want. This is part of why I disagree so strongly with those who want to tell men or women what their role in life must be. Telling people they have a duty to marry and/or have children undermines their moral obligation to follow through on their commitments.

    Interestingly I think the argument that people have the right to divorce to be happy is based on a false premise. As I shared in a previous post, the science on the issue points the other way. Dennis makes this same mistake in his defense of divorce. He only asks if people appear happier or say they are happier after divorce. What is missing is a consideration of how happy they would likely be now had they not divorced.

    *I also think the assumption that one necessarily becomes happy by directly and exclusively pursuing happiness is highly flawed. Knowing yourself well enough to know what you want is extremely important, but it isn’t the entire picture. Unfettered freedom won’t make anyone happy. Even the hippies seem to have figured this out.

  13. Hubs1 says:

    Cal (2:36 pm) —

    > Parents have nearly full control over the lives of their children. Children do not have the moral duty to exhibit happiness to their parents… In the parent-child relationship, particularly as to children under 7 or so, all of the duties lie with the parent.

    This makes a lot of sense to me, and tracks with my experience as a child and as a parent.

    > It’s safe to say that an openly unhappy child is, almost always, unequivocal proof of a bad parent.

    It may be ‘safe to say.’ But I have seen no evidence that it is true. This broad-brush statement is false and cruel in equal measure. It would be best to shame people for things that they are responsible for, and where shaming has the potential to improve circumstances.

    This is neither. Please, re-think.

  14. Eric says:

    Doomed Harlot:
    That’s true; although I think what such statements really do is accept the radical feminist premise that men are inferior to women, and are Neanderthals who need the civilising power of the feminine to curb their savage instincts. A lot of the so-called Tradcons follow exactly the pattern you described: they embrace all the basic tenets of radical feminists but cover them with a veneer of submission and self-righteousness.
    Other examples of ‘Tradcon’ sound-bites illustrate this too: ‘Women have all the power in relationships’ implies that that power is sexual; i.e., that women are the ‘owners’ of sex. Another gem that comes out of Lapin is a metaphor he reads into the Genesis Creation Account: ‘Adam was only half a man before there was Eve’. The misandry implicit in such comments is clear.
    This is why I made an especial point earlier of the relevance of both Praeger and Lapin’s rabbinical education. Theirs is a ‘tradition’ that came from a polygamous culture where men publically ruled, but privately were dominated by their harem-wives. The early Christians advocated monogamy and defined mutual duties and spiritual equality for husbands and wives, but they learned that concept from the Greeks, not the Hebrews.

  15. Eric says:

    Just as a way of offering an alternative on the pursuit of happiness for those who find Praeger distasteful, a really insightful work is ‘Productive Thinking’ by Max Wertheimer. I think it’s still in print. Parts of it are difficult reading, (he interviewed Albert Einstein, for example) but Wertheimer follows the premise that happiness is linked inextricably to perspective and thought that leads to productive goal.

  16. Anonymous Reader says:

    Once again I must point out the wisdom of Viktor Frankl, who states in his immediately post-WWII book “Man’s Search for Meaning” the subtle and yet obvious truth that while we cannot control everything that happens to us, indeed, sometimes we cannot control anything that happens to us, we can control how we react to it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man%27s_Search_for_Meaning

  17. Doomed Harlot says:

    Eric,
    I don’t think the idea that women have a civilizing influence on men is a particularly feminist idea. If anything, it is a Victorian idea or perhaps even older than that. Certainly, in the Victorian and Edwardian eras, it was popular for traditionalists to argue that women’s moral superiority would be sullied were they to engage in the dirty, rough-and-tumble of politics, or the pursuit of filthy lucre. Under this view, women were to serve as guardians of virtue, and as a motivation for men to act in a civilized way, and they were to do so by staying submissively in the home and acting gentle and dainty. This is what I think Prager is getting at. Obviously, this view really doesn’t do women any favors. It serves to keep women out of politics and business, and it places the blame on women when men act badly. It also unleashes wrath on women who fail to live up to the angelic standard, a wrath far out of proportion to the unangelic behavior at issue.

    That said, I will acknowledge that there is a strain a feminism that has bought into this non-sense. The early suffragists exploited Victorian views of women as morally more pure than men to argue that women would use the vote to do good and spread peace and light. In reality, women should not have to prove that they are especially saintly and angelic in order to enjoy equal status in society, but the suffragists had to make their case based on prevailing attitudes (and, indeed, as products of their time and place, many or most of them probably believed it). In more recent times, some women have reacted to narratives of female inferiority by pumping women; I can see how the overcompensation can seem like a narrative of female superiority, and perhaps it is at times intended as such.

    But the vast majority of mainstream feminists would say that women are just people, neither better nor worse than men. Go on a mainstream feminist blog, like Feministe or Pandagon, and try arguing that women are a civilizing influence on men and you will be told immediately to cut out the gender essentialist crap.

  18. PT Barnum says:

    I agree that positive and negative emotions are contagious and since I’m a intense person I try to keep it in check when it needs to be. HOWEVER, the parents were unhappy cause one child made them unhappy? Then they failed at their moral obligation to be happy.

    When I was young I had severe allergies that were completely ignored by my parents.

    As a result, I could run about 1 minute before my lungs locked up.

    This may have caused me to fail my “moral obligation” for happiness.

    Sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s a little b*tch dodge, and sometimes it’s a parent/friend playing the emotional blackmail game.

  19. PT Barnum says:

    It would be best to shame people for things that they are responsible for, and where shaming has the potential to improve circumstances.

    A fascinatingly immoral position that throws the idea of sin itself completely out the window.

  20. Doomed Harlot says:

    On Prager’s rabbinical education: I don’t believe a Jewish tolerance of polygamy has anything to do with Prager’s tolerance of divorce. Polygmay hasn’t been practiced by the Jews, certainly not Ashkenazi Jews, in easily over a thousand years. I am sure it is a practice that seems as alien to Prager as to any other mainstream westerner. I do think he is likely influenced, however, by a greater Jewish acceptance of divorce, even in orthodox and conservative Judaism.

  21. Hubs1 says:

    > A fascinatingly immoral position that throws the idea of sin itself completely out the window.

    I do not think that being the parent of a child who is unhappy (who struggles with happiness/who is sometimes unhappy) is evidence of sinfulness.

    I find parents who are successfully raising an only child often figure that they’ve found “the way”. That makes it easy to look down on parents who are experiencing problems in their family life. Children of a lesser god, perhaps.

    FWIW, my own kids are reasonably happy. Most of the time.

  22. PT Barnum says:

    I do not think that being the parent of a child who is unhappy (who struggles with happiness/who is sometimes unhappy) is evidence of sinfulness.

    Really. Words have meaning people. If I live in an apartment and my roommate is found murdered there then that isn’t PROOF that I killed them, but it is most certainly EVIDENCE that I did. Sufficient? No.

    Meaningless noise? No.

  23. The David says:

    Delurking for the first time. I discovered the whole game/MRA blogs via Roissy’s site but had to stop reading the cynical and nihilistic blogs before they drove me to move to Antarctica. Dalrock and TBH blogs are much better since they are more hopeful and positive that the cultural damage from feminism can be reversed and men and women can once again get along in properly bonded loving relationships.

    Anyway, as far as happiness being a moral obligation I see a few problems with this idea. First, a moral obligation to be happy seems like a contradiction to me — as in, you must be happy whether you like it or not. Are we suppose to beat people into happiness who refuse to go along or just ship them off to a Gulag to prevent their unhappiness from marring the lives of all the “happy shiny people” in this supposed paradise? (I think this has been tried). The other side of that coin is to make happiness the ultimate end (setting aside the problem of actually defining it). But happiness is an effect not a cause and as others have pointed out, those who try to reverse it end up in the dead end of subjectivism and hedonism. Count me out.

  24. Opus says:

    May I be utterly contrary?

    Happiness, is, I would suggest a reaction to things which please, and unhappiness to those things which do not please; however, after a time happiness and unhappiness wear off, and people resume their normal equanimity or lack thereof. People do seem – as with the case of the unhappy child Dalrock mentions – of a certain disposition from their earliest years. Meet a friend whom you have not seen for many years: they not only frequently look and sound the same, but seem to have an unchanged personality. We seem to be born with certain propensities. Positive thinking – is this what lies behind Prager (a man I had not previously heard of) is saying? – is in my view hocus-pocus snake-oil (i.e. fads like The Secret). Curmudgeons are to be avoided but so are the tiresomely optimistic.

  25. Hubs1 says:

    PT Barnum —

    I read your response. There isn’t enough common ground for a conversation.

  26. Doomed Harlot says:

    Hmmm. I think Opus may be on to something. For one thing, happiness is not static. No one is happy ALL the time. I think perhaps our moral obligation is to engage with life instead of drowning in our sorrows, and work towards whatever equanimity or contentment, and sometime happiness, one can obtain.

  27. Opus says:

    Encouraged by Doomed Harlot, may I add a trans-atlantic viewpoint.

    Your Declaration of Independence, I believe, seeks to pursue, life, liberty, AND the Pursuit of Happiness. It is an enlightenment value, quite Utopian, (as if living in the new world was not quite living up to the blurb in the brochure) and thus doomed to failure, however, I must conceed that I do find (you’ll like this) Americans to be very positive people, usually. You have a can-do attitude, whether that can-do is subduing native americans, recalictrant Iraquis, or attempting to force your views (Democracy, of course) on everyone else. Ask an American how he is, he will reply ‘fine’, ‘well’, or (the incomprehensible) ‘good’: Ask an Englishman the same question he will reply ‘mustn’t grumble’.

  28. Doomed Harlot says:

    Oh Opus, I am a hopeless lover of virtually all things English (with the exception of the ridiculous Daily Male and perhaps the class system, but there is a class system here in the US too.) I would note that you Brits have your own long history of imposing yourselves on everyone. (The sun never sets on the British Empire and all that.) And yes, you all do tend to focus on the negative more than we do, but you do with so such charm and verve that how can we not love you completely?

    It is important to remember that happiness itself was not the goal of the Declaration of Independence, but rather the pursuit of happiness — a crucial distinction. I can deal with being unhappy; but I must, must have the ability to pursue happiness! I may be an admirer of the English, but I am a perky American to the core!

  29. Doomed Harlot says:

    . . . And now I’m off to pursue happiness via a girls’ trip to an undisclosed European country. Yes, I am taking some of the money I have earned through the career I selfishly cultivated when I should have been home birthing white babies, leaving my poor emasculated husband behind, and kicking up my heels Sex-and-the-City style, sans sex (alas) but complete with cute clothes, frothy pink cocktails and lots of girl talk. Yes, I know I’m being obnoxious, but I can’t resist. I know how much you guys love this stuff!

  30. Lavazza says:

    Emotions and emotional reactions are in flux, a whirlpool, but we also have the power of discrimination and wisdom. The more you practice discrimination, the easier and more often you will step outside, detach and take control. One simple thing is to react to every negative thought with the idea “For what am I grateful?”, and then see if the negative thought persists. Normally you will not even remember that you had a negative thought before starting to list the positive things. Even negative things are a blessing, since they give an opportunity to learn and to grow (once you have established such contentment and discrimination not to get lost in negative feelings).

  31. Lavazza says:

    If anyone is interested in yoga philosophy, here’s a good translation and commentary of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

    http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-10104.htm

    The yoga sutras is an extremely condensed work on anything a human has to know (2-4 pages).

  32. Buck says:

    I have always thought that women have the “power” in relationships…Lets face a fact, if they ain’t giv’n he ain’t get’n, as far a sex goes! That being the case, if the kotex mafia would quit tearing each other down, causing eating disorders within their own ranks, and start shaming the tramps among their teammates they would be masters of the world. Womankind would get the male commitment they claim they want, simply by being chaste and exiling girls and the men who consort with tramps to the wilderness. Alas, this will never happen, the average modern western woman is now a total punch board. I’ve asked gals who are notorious tramps why they allow themselves to be pumped-n-dumped time and time again…their response ” if I don’t put out some other girl will and I’ll lose him” ..of course what they don’t understand is that by putting out they destroy their virtue in the guys’ mind, thus relegating themselves to the pump-n-dump category, the more times this plays out the worse it gets for them. I seem to recall a Proverb that goes, “one tenth of one percent of all men could be considered wise, but not one woman”

  33. Cal says:

    Buck, I don’t believe women have all the power in relationships. I used to think so, but not anymore.

    Once you understand what women find attractive, it’s really just a matter of exhibiting those characteristics. The goal is not to learn how to chase women. The goal is to raise your sex rating to such an extent that women start throwing themselves at you.

    I wish I learned this stuff 20 years ago.

  34. Dan in Philly says:

    If one would determine one’s child was unhappy, what would be the remedy? This assumes Prager’s contention that one unhappy child = unhappy parent. Let us suppose the unhapiness stems from a source beyond the control of the parent. Is the parent therefore doomed to unhappiness?

    Let’s extend the argument, what about that parent’s parent? Does this work both ways and children are unhappy if the parents are? In that case, one unhappy child means the entire family is unhappy, including the extended family. Eventually you have to reach the absurd conclusion that if one person is unhappy, everyone must be.

    What I’m saying is that Prager’s assertion falls flat on its face. Though no man is an island entire of himself, every man is responsible for his own happiness and also for his own unhppiness. Whatever moral obligation we may have to be happy does not involve the logic Prager is proposing.

  35. PT Barnum says:

    Hubs1 said:

    PT Barnum –

    I read your response. There isn’t enough common ground for a conversation.

    Well, I’m sure I’ll miss having you criticize every non-point and demand proof of every single fact twice over. Or maybe I won’t.

    More generally, since you want to throw sin and probability out the window, religion and practical science in one mighty throw, I imagine we do indeed have no grounds for conversation.

  36. J says:

    I’m big fan of both Frankel and Prager. I don’t agree with everything Prager says, but I’ve heard him speak and he is eloquent and persuasive.

  37. Pingback: Na na na na naaaaaa « Hidden Leaves

  38. Carl says:

    Nobody’s happy.

  39. Rhen says:

    People, especially women, often use the assertion of unhappiness as a weapon to gain power in relationships. (Men do this too, but not as often. There’s no male equivalent to the saying “if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy”) The game is “you haven’t made me happy, so you should make up for it by buying me a bigger house/not objecting to my credit card overspending/go where I want to go on vacation/etc”

    This probably usually starts with the person claiming more unhappiness than they actually feel, but the real unhappiness probably increases to match the claimed unhappiness.

  40. grerp says:

    Happiness is such a hard concept, as it is emotion driven and emotion dependent. I strive for contentment and hope for times of happiness. I agree with the point, though, that people should not hold each other hostage to their emotional ups and downs and should strive to be humbly grateful for the blessings that they do have in their lives. Advertising tells us the exact opposite of this and has permeated the culture completely, so it’s no surprise that we are all on anti-depressants now. :S

  41. Speaking as an atheist who does’t much care for Dennis Prager’s intolerable uppitiness: I agree with him on some aspects of this subject.

    I believe unhappiness is emotional sloth.
    Happiness and peace of mind take work. It is an effort (more for some) to right your perspective and be mindful of the intrinsic wonders of this world. And appreciate them.

    The unhappy people I know are lazy and apathetic and would rather drown in misery than work their way out of the muck. They are the first to cry about the unfairness of life while not doing a thing about it..

  42. Stephenie Rowling says:

    “The unhappy people I know are lazy and apathetic and would rather drown in misery than work their way out of the muck. They are the first to cry about the unfairness of life while not doing a thing about it.”

    I think there are many people addicted to DRAMA! and their own misery. They got so used to living in constant pain that any step towards gaining more happiness is self-sabotaged, better the devil you know….and all that jazz.

  43. Pingback: Why Dennis Prager is happy « An Unmarried Man

  44. Anonymous Reader says:

    Wise point, Grerp, contentment is a different emotion than happiness, and one can achieve at least some degree of contentment via rational thought. I’ve known some people who went through truly horrible experiences who were astoundingly content in later life, perhaps due to conscious, deliberate effort.

    What we owe at least our family members or others in close emotional space is certainly contentment, if for no other reason than it’s a lot easier to be with someone who is content than someone who is constantly sad, or angry, about things that cannot be fixed (or at least not fixed without major changes in people’s lives). An adult who is not happy in his or her employment, for example, but who cannot leave for economic reasons can either make the best of it, or constantly complain at home thereby making everyone else miserable to some degree.

    Which reminds me, I cannot recall if I’ve mentioned it here at Dalrock’s or not, but being angry does have some power. Someone who is easily annoyed, who is angry much of the time, tends to make everyone else around them “walk on eggshells”; the angry person gets to control more of his or her environment, and that’s all that matters. This can only fail in the long run. Those who can leave the situation, whether it’s employment or family, will do so. Those who cannot leave for whatever reason will surely come to resent the seemingly endless drama, and they will in time react. Maybe they’ll escalate the conflict, maybe they’ll withdraw completely one way or another, but they will react.

    I’m thinking of some older people I know who are just about always angry over something, and oddly enough their children don’t come to visit much…maybe they were that way from the beginning, maybe not. But it’s something to bear in mind earlier in life than, say, age 70.

Please see the comment policy linked from the top menu.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s