Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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?

Being best you can be, at what you are good at.

Vince Lombardi, that most winning of coaches, had this to say about excellence:

“Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing. You don’t do things right once in a while…you do them right all the time.

“Unless a man believes in himself and makes a total commitment to his career and puts everything he has into it – his mind, his body, his heart – what’s life worth to him?

“Once a man has made a commitment to a way of life, he puts the greatest strength in the world behind him. It’s something we call heart power. Once a man has made this commitment, nothing will stop him short of success.

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.

“I would say that the quality of each man’s life is the full measure of that man’s commitment of excellence and victory – whether it be football, whether it be business, whether it be politics or government or what have you.”

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, not so much.

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 (not so much anymore, unfortunately). 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. Let's just say wages stopped going up in January, 1973.

The more the State grows, the worse it is for everyone. That is one story that has happened over and over.

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 economy is under attack. Freedom is under attack. Self-respect is under attack.

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.


Jim said...

Won't be reversed until the original tenets of the Constitution are accepted. Namely that those who contribute/own land are the only one's who vote. That's the only way the nation can function. If you want to vote, succeed in life or at least put an effort into it. But this of course takes into account a government that doesn't stand in the way of those pursuits. Nor can those in government or those that benefit directly via entitlements or jobs be allowed to participate in the election process. The conflict of interest is the reason why.

Anonymous said...

Agreed in general, but I would go at least one step farther back than than the "oh-so-sacred" constitution.

The "Articles of the Confederation" was a far better model. With such as the framework, there was/is no way that government could ever grow into a Hobbessian Leviathan with the capability to get in the way of freedom and a man's pursuits.

Stop the madness.