Monday, September 24, 2012

The Pursuit of Well-Being

The phrase "the pursuit of happiness" in the Declaration of Independence comes from the Greek word, "eudaimonia" and is best translated as "well-being" or "flourishing." You achieved this through "arete" or "excellence." This of course raises the question, what is excellence?

Perhaps, being best you can be, at what you are good at.

I've known people who could play the guitar at five years old. They became musicians. I had a girlfriend who would shinny up lightpoles at five and sit on top waving to cars. She became an athlete.

People often show what they are good at by the time they are five.

This is why schools shouldn't try to produce standardized products (except for reading, writing, and arithmetic) and should concentrate on developing inherent talents. They're really good at this when it comes to athletics but otherwise, no.

In 1960, journalist Gordon Young asked Carl Jung, “What do you consider to be more or less basic factors making for happiness in the human mind?” Jung answered with five things:

1. Good physical and mental health.

2. Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.

3. The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.

4. Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.

5. A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.

Jung, always mindful of paradox, added, “All factors which are generally assumed to make for happiness can, under certain circumstances, produce the contrary. No matter how ideal your situation may be, it does not necessarily guarantee happiness.”

Jung's caution is why the Declaration says "pursuit of happiness" and not "guarantee of happiness."

The United States was originally founded on political and economic liberty, and what that produced was the best country on Earth. Freedom and liberty contribute the best to "reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work." Unfortunately it's been downhill in the country for a long time.

The more the State grows, the worse it is for everyone.

In fact, almost all of Jung's five keys to happiness are under attack by the State. Marriage and the relationships between men and women are under attack, and have been for a long time. If they weren't under attack, 49% of the people in this country wouldn't be single.

The government in the United States has become a behemoth, which means our liberty and freedom grows less and less every day. I don't know if it can be reversed or not. But if it's not reversed, the flourishing and well-being of people will grow less or less every day.

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