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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Happiness is Just Chemistry, and Its Absence

Happiness is Just Chemistry, and Its Absence

(like everything on my blog, my graphics are covered by Creative Commons licence)

What is it about us that we never seem to be happy, at least for long? What does it even mean to be happy?

There have been endless studies suggesting that, a year after winning a major lottery, people are no happier than they were before. And that a year after losing a limb, those who suffered that tragedy are just as happy, on average, as the lottery winners.

Robert Sapolsky has explained how our body chemistry drives us to always want more — to never really be happy with what we have. That’s probably part of it. But another part of it, I think, is that our human brains’ constant ruminations — second-guessing, worrying, regretting etc, leave us in a stage of constant low-level anxiety, never content with the present, and obsessed with the past and the future.

This is all, of course, just my theory, just my amateur opinion. But my conditioning is to try to make sense of everything, and to use this blog to help me do so, so here we go.

Based on years of living with, observing, and reading about, non-human creatures, my sense is that, unless they have been abused or constrained under situations of chronic stress, they live most of their lives in a state of what I call alert equanimity (box 1 in the chart above). These are, I am guessing, times when their feelings of natural contentment are not being disrupted by stressful situations and the chemical responses of their bodies to those situations…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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