Do You Consider Yourself A Happy Person?

Everyone is happy some of the time, and unhappy other times. On the whole, though, do you consider yourself to be a happy person?

How can you tell? It is tempting to simply count the number of times you are happy. If you are happy more often than not, you are a happy person.

But that can miss an important nuance: you may consider yourself to be a happy person, even if you are unhappy more than fifty percent of the time. Similarly, you might consider yourself to be an unhappy person, even if the happy times make up a majority.

And, of course, how you see yourself is not how others see you. You might consider yourself to be happy, but someone else might see you as unhappy, or vice versa. How important is how others see you, versus how you see yourself?

In addition, it’s not obvious that happiness should be the goal. There are many traits you might strive to have: to be kind, generous, thoughtful, helpful, and so on. Happiness may very well be an unintended (or intended) consequence of some of these.

Goal or not, you probably have a sense of your own happiness. Do you consider yourself a happy person? If you think about your day-to-day (or even hour-to-hour) life, is the answer still the same? And if you are an unhappy person, how might you bring a little more happiness into your life?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? Why don’t you know what makes you happy? What makes you the happiest? Why do we put up with unhappiness?

How Does Technology Influence Your Emotions?

The technology we use in our everyday life is rapidly changing. In what ways are our emotions influenced by that technology?

The last century has seen the introduction of revolutionary technology, from the television to the Internet to the smartphone. These devices are used by most people every single day, often obsessively so.

In turn, our brains, which evolved without these influences, are reacting to and being shaped by this use. In particular, our emotions are being targeted by advertisers, media companies, and other people.

As you go about your day, can you think of ways your emotions are engaged via technology?

Positive emotions, like joy, love, happiness, and glee might be triggered in a number of ways. Seeing pictures of family members hundreds or even thousands of miles away might bring a smile to your face. The use of GPS might get you to your destination quickly and safely. You might laugh at a shared online joke or meme.

Of course, negative emotions are also being influenced. Cable news gets you to stay tuned by presenting scary news items. Advertisers make you feel envy toward others to get you to buy goods and services. You might also, at times, feel anger, jealousy, and lust.

How are your emotions influenced by our modern-day technology? What might you do to limit that influence, or at least not be controlled by it?

Related questions: Is technology neutral? What role does technology play in your life? What skills have you lost due to technology? What is the right amount of emotion? How does media manipulate you?

What Makes For A Satisfied Mind?

To live well, some philosophies say, you should try to cultivate a satisfied mind. What does that mean, and how might you accomplish it?

There are many reasons why you mind might not be satisfied.

On a personal level, you might want more: more money, more status, more stuff. Ambition can be a good motivator, but it doesn’t produce satisfaction.

You might also look at the world and want more justice. You might see the flaws in our society, or empathize with plight of others that are suffering. That might lead you to attempt to seek positive change. That’s a good thing — but “satisfied” is not the word you would use to describe that.

There are also a host of issues to be worried about, from civil unrest, to artificial intelligence, to climate change, to income inequality, and on and on. Yet another reason why you might not have a satisfied mind.

So what can you do? How might you quell your fears, curb your wants and desires? To calm your thoughts, and bring about a state of being that is less anxiety ridden, and therefore more healthy? And lastly, is there a concern that cultivating a satisfied mind might dissociate you from others?

Related questions: What do you think about when your mind is not preoccupied? How do you find peace when you need it? What do you do to clear your mind? Are we too busy?

What Do You Find Awe-Inducing?

Louis Armstrong’s gravelly yet beautiful voice blessed a tune that recounts the beauty of earth-bound nature and the sacredness of the nighttime sky. The song is filled with awe, and includes some lines about babies who will grow and learn more than he’d ever know. And so, Louis “thought to [himself], what a wonderful world.”
Sometimes, we find it difficult to escape our rushed and patterned lives to witness the awe that surrounds us. But once in a while–heck, as often as you can–you would be wise to look around you and find reason to see that we live in a wonderful world.
As for me, one of the most magical things I see comes after a dandelion seed finds a crack in the cement and grows impressive roots and an above-ground stem and flower that some hate but others love. If you dislike dandelions, did you know that all parts of a dandelion are edible? The plant is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and D, along with calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. How awesome is that! I am similarly amazed that a tiny cottonwood seed created the mammoth tree in my neighbor’s backyard.
Music also fascinates me. When experiencing the Sunday Scaries, I often don my headphones, open my music app, and randomize play from my 1,171 top-rated songs. While it’s cliché, music transports me to another place. It doesn’t matter the mood or subject of the tunes my app picks; I end the night in a better place than before notes hit my eardrums. There’s a scientific answer to this transportation: our brains release dopamine, a happiness-inducing chemical, when we listen to tunes. How lucky are we to have music in this world of ours!
I could go on with the things in the universe that captivate me. But I’d prefer to read your answers.
What do you find awe-inducing?

Why Are We Sad When Someone We Don’t Know Dies?

When someone dies who had an impact on us — a beloved entertainer from our childhood, for example — we are sad, even though we don’t know the figure personally. But why should that be?

There is no doubt that there is an emotional reaction to the news of someone’s death. For people we know and interact with, that is understandable. That person’s place in our life is missing.

However, we also feel sadness for some we have never met. For instance, a musician who sang a particularly meaningful song, or an author who wrote a touchstone book.

But why? The meaningful part — the song, say, or the book — still exist. They are not being erased from the public consciousness, and in fact may gain some awareness from the creator’s death.

Is it that the person will no longer be creating anything that might move you similarly? Chances are, unless you are a completist, there is music from that artist you have never heard, or books by that author you have never read. There is still new material  — new to you, that is — to be discovered.

Perhaps it is general empathy. We are sad to hear of someone’s death. A life with value has come to an end, which is a cause for mourning.

And yet, people with value die every minute of every day. With eight billion people on the planet, we cannot mourn the passing of each and every one — we would live in a constant tsunami of sadness.

So why, then, are we affected by these individual deaths? Why are we not happy that the person existed in the first place, and created such impactful works of art? Why not take joy that our world can produce such people, who in turn create such meaning?

There is no doubt that we are saddened by the news of these passings. It seems obvious that the feelings exist. But is there a reason why? Why do we feel sad when someone we don’t know dies?

Related questions: Why are people afraid of death? What is the nature of celebrity? What makes you nostalgic? What are you sad about?