I am reading an interesting book called, “The Geography of Bliss” by, Eric Weiner. It caught my attention because he is a journalist who spent much of his career working for NPR and visiting places where War and other bad things happen. He decided after a time that he wanted to find the happiest places in the world in an attempt to discover a common thread to eternal bliss, or at least what makes people in those places happy.
He started in the Netherlands because that is where The World Database of Happiness is located, yup they compile data about the worlds happiest places. To be precise this is how they describe the site:
“The World Data Base of Happiness is an ongoing register of scientific research on the subjective enjoyment of life. It brings together findings that are scattered throughout many studies and provides a basis for synthetic work. The Database consists of the following interrelated collections, the interconnections of which are visualized on a flowchart.”
It’s all very scientific, while they try to pinpoint and measure what makes human beings happy. What I found very interesting was that at one point Weiner writes about a philosopher named, Robert Nozick who I am not familiar with, but if you click the link you will find him at Wikipedia, who was interested in the study of hedonism and happiness. It says he devised an experiment called the “The Experience Machine”, the machine wasn’t real, but in the experiment people were asked if there was a machine that would do you no physical or mental harm that you could plug yourself into that would make you experience happiness 24-7 would you plug into it. Most people said they would not do it. The consensus being the human experience would not be what it is without a full range of emotions and if we did not encounter sadness we would not know joy.
I agree, although I would like to plug in to the machine myself, a lot! Insert the giant happy face here! Which brings me to my next discovery. There was actually a guy named David Stern of David Stern, Inc who created the “Smiley” in 1967 for an ad campaign he was doing for Washington Mutual. He didn’t think to trademark it though, much to his unhappiness I am sure. It’s amazing what one little smile can do!
I haven’t finished the book, I learned all this in the first chapter, can you imagine? But reading about the experience machine reminded me of a quote for today, because I think being blissfully happy all the time is not what life is about. I also think that our constant search to experience happiness and avoid pain leads to more unhappiness. So I will leave you with this for today:
For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.