Happiness in its many different forms and shades seems to be lure for all activities of life forms. Human activities in the pursuit of happiness can produce different types of status changes in our personal world and in the world around. A person’s activities that produce positive or beneficial status changes for the self, seem to deliver happiness to the person. These acts may also produce positive status changes for the greater world around, but they may also be neutral or even negative for world around. Thus, our acts in the pursuit of happiness can be divided into two main types:
1) Efforts that try to create overall positive status changes for both the self and the world around.
2) Efforts that try to create positive status changes for the self only, without any concern for their effect on the world around.
The first type of activities create status changes that normally bring true positive changes. These are the primary sources of happiness that create a strong foundation through activities that benefit both the self and the world around. They also constitute the eudaimonic sources of happiness as defined by modern psychology. Generally, the activities in the pursuit of this type of happiness try to uplift not only the status of the person creating it, but also the overall status of the greater world around. These positive changes can be produced by many different kinds of activities ranging from the dramatic to the everyday regular humdrum activities. They can be physical and/or mental - nothing spectacular is needed. The most important thing is the attitude to create a positive ending in whatever we are doing. The next step is to support this attitude with our efforts - whatever effort can be applied comfortably is adequate most of the times.
The second type of status changes make up the secondary sources of happiness, commonly known as the pleasures. These are basically the hedonistic sources of happiness as classified by modern psychology. The main focus of this type of happiness is self-gratification without much concern for the greater world around. They are generated from activities that produce effects, which are beneficial for the self, but can be anything - positive, neutral or negative for the world around. The activity of eating an ice-cream, for example, or watching an interesting movie delivers pleasure to us, but may not generate any discernable amount of positive status changes for the world around. The hedonistic type of happiness can be further subdivided into two groups. Let's call them:
a) hedonistic type A, and
b) hedonistic type B
The activities in the pursuit of hedonistic type A happiness produce status changes that are positive for the self, and are also non-negative for the world around. That is, they are either positive or neutral for the world around. For example, the act of eating an ice cream produces status changes for the self in the form of positive sensation through taste; but it produces practically no status changes for the world around. Participating in a group sports activity like playing soccer, for example, can be considered as another example of pursuit of mild hedonistic type A happiness, where the acts produce positive status changes for the self, and also some possible positive status changes for the world around. In similar situations where the hedonistic activity creates positive status changes for the greater world around, the act can be in the transition zone, from hedonistic to eudaimonic, depending on the purpose.
The activities in the pursuit of hedonistic type B happiness produce status changes, which are positive for the self, but negative for the world around. Here the overall status change tend to be negative. Sexual activities, for example, have the potential of producing tremendous amounts of hedonistic happiness; but depending on the circumstances, they can be either type A or type B. Inappropriate or non-consensual sexual behavior can provide hedonistic type B happiness for the self, while creating significant negative status changes for the victims. Business activities of corporations selling products which are harmful for the world while making monetary profits can also be considered as examples of hedonistic type B activities, because here some people benefit at the expense of greater world around. Thus, the activities of selling fossil fuels by the oil and gas industry without any effort to control the resulting global warming may be considered an example of hedonistic type B behavior.
Thus, we can see a clear difference between the eudaimonic and the hedonistic types of happiness - specially between the eudaimonic and the hedonistic type B. If we analyze the destructive activities that are posing the most serious threats to our future survival, we can see that most of them have been created by our activities in the pursuit of hedonistic type B happiness. But that doesn’t mean we have to skip all the hedonistic pleasures - the pleasures of our favorite food or the beautiful music, etc. make the life so rewarding. But, possibly it will wiser to avoid the hedonistic type B as much as possible for the obvious reasons. Perhaps, here lies the clue to solving some of our most pressing problems that relate to our evolution and our survival in the far future.
Author’s brief bio:The author emigrated to USA from India, in 1968. He has a couple of Masters in Science and Engineering. Though his profession has been in Technology, his real passion has been in Philosophy and Spirituality.