Posts Tagged ‘ Happiness ’

No Deity Will Save Us We Must Save ourselves

No Deity Will Save Us We Must Save ourselves.

Another bit of good news. Well, several bits strewn through this post. It’s a good read and a reason to be happy about life. The statistics show that we’re making headway, getting better as a species. There is a long way to go yet, but we’re getting there.

Are You Happy?

Recently it has come to my attention that many people think that their life is supposed to be happy. As far as I know the meaning of life is to eat, drink, breathe, fornicate, sleep, wake, and repeat as long as you can. I don’t see any imperative for being happy. Being happy might include not having a child when you are not ready for one (birth control or abortion),  not having everyone in your personal space (not being social),  having access to cheap healthcare when you are sick (socialized medicine).

Can any of those who read this explain why so many people think that life is supposed to be happy? I don’t get it. Really, I don’t. Tell me in the comments how I’m wrong. Explain it to me… please.

What The World Needs Now…

I guess that tonight, taking a bit of a night off, I’ve got a few thoughts floating about. I’ve been working, or trying to, like I’m two people at the $Job. It’s kind of working out, but I don’t think it’s destined to be a raving success.

Maybe I should subtitle this as “What I hope is all that the world needs now” ?

All this work has me looking at the people around me and how we interact, what motivates them, how I can best accomplish my goals. Lets face, my goals are my priority, so that is how I see the world most days. Not just me, me, me, but how can I best achieve what I think is the best course of action. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the various groups within the $Company all seem to act like a microcosm of the world in general. Each little group striving for power or importance trying to justify their way of doing things. Somehow they know that the world will survive without them, but they don’t want a world that is so.

What I think they all miss is the fact that even if the world survives without them, it will miss them and their contributions to the world. We might like to see the government of China go away but we don’t want China to go away. We might like to see religion go away but we don’t want to see the believers go away. At least that is how I’m looking at things. Don’t get me wrong, I believe firmly that believers are wrong, painfully wrong and they tout stupid and dangerous ideas. Just the same I don’t wish the world to be a world without them. Despite their beliefs and motivations they are still human and deep down what drives me also drives them. Yes, of course, both sides have their share of complete dicks… se la vie.

I am not trying to say that I have a clue how to solve the problem. I still have more anger than anything else but I’m wondering what of it is fear? I don’t think there is any real fear in me regarding religion but I do worry that bad and stupid ideas can change the course of my life without my consent. I worry that it is my responsibility, in the best traditions of our founding fathers, to work to ensure that I leave this country in better shape than I found it. Yeah, nope, I still don’t know what the world needs now. I do know what it doesn’t need, and I know the ideas that I think are simply hubris but it remains a question on my mind. I wonder what others think the world needs. Yes, there are those that think it needs more yoga or more prayer or more wrist bands.

It might just be that Pink Floyd might know.

 

No, sadly I do not believe that talking with theists will resolve the issues that their dogma demands be, but talking is a form of education if done in a certain way. I am hanging my hopes on education and the will of the educated to support the world while it transitions away from superstitious belief.

What do you think the world needs now? We see religion imploding on itself and something WILL take its place. We humans have a strong tendency to replace the old with a new version of the old rather than something new altogether. How do we spring clean that shining city on the hill and work toward the original intents of some very wise men?

I do realize that not everyone who stops to read this is American, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have an opinion on the topic. Share it with us.

My World View – Happy Hominidae

It kind of sounds like a holiday or celebration, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.

I was thinking that perhaps it’s time for me to write about my world view. There are so many ‘famous’ atheists out there who profess a world view that is secularist, humanist etc. and go on to tell us why all atheists should be like them or think like them. I disagree. I am me. I speak for no other and no other atheist speaks for me.

So I will start then to speak for me with a few entries about what I understand to be true about the world and universe. Who knows how many posts it will take. I guess we’ll find out. To go with the happy title, lets start with biology.

There is a post at StartledDisbelief.com where the author writes:

It’s frustrating when creationists claim that humans came from monkeys, or that evolution tells us that we are monkeys. Humans are not monkeys (they’re in a separate infraorder or parvorder, depending on which monkeys you’re talking about).

But I hear skeptics who aren’t quite as careful as they should be roundly declare that humans are not apes, when, in point of fact, we are. Here’s roughly where humans fall:

Order:Primates, which contains Prosimians (lemurs, etc.) and Simians (monkeys and apes).
Infraorder:Simiiformes (simians), which contains Platyrrhini (New World monkeys) and Catarrhini (Old World monkeys and apes).
Parvorder:Catarrhini, which contains Cercopithecoidea (Old World monkeys) and Hominoidea (apes).
Superfamily:Hominoidea (apes), which contains Hylobatidae (gibbons) and Hominidae (great apes).
Family:Hominidae (great apes), which contains Pongo (orangutans), Gorilla (gorillas), Pan (chimpanzees), and Homo (humans).
Genus:Homo (humans). That’s us!

I don’t think I could have said it as well. I am an ape. A clever one, but I am an ape. The processes of evolution have brought my species to where we are today… but we are still apes. I’m okay with that. Really, I am. It explains a lot of things to me. When I was a young inquisitive child I once wondered if the number five was somehow magical. I see my cat has basically 5 fingers on its feet as does my dog and many other animals. Just like me. We have four limbs, bilateral symmetry (didn’t know to call it that then), same basic facial structures and senses. But each of us had 5 protrusions from our torsos like starfish etc. This number 5 must somehow be magic.

I gave up on that thought of magic but never forgot the similarities. Later I was taught I am a mammal and some passable understanding of what that means. Not until much later did I really understand that I am an ape. Not just any ape… a member of the most successful and adaptable ape ever. One of the ape family that went to the moon and back. I’m somehow a very special ape, not your ordinary ‘stare through the glass at the zoo’ kind of ape. Later I learned about biology and evolution. Neither topic held much interest for me in school as I was still wanting to believe like my parents, unwilling to believe that they would lie to me, no matter how well intentioned.

I was fully adult and had served my time in the military before I began to understand exactly how wonderful it is to know that I AM AN APE! Judging by my successes thus far in life, a very special ape. Sure, not the most special ape, but a pretty damned clever ape just the same. It took me a long time to justify that enlightening fact with my understanding of the rest of the world. Being an ape, I’ve got a natural inquisitive nature. I used it to find out why other people thought I was an ape to see what proof they had. What would make them think that? As it turns out, there is a lot of evidence for evolution, an overwhelming amount of it.

Damn! My parents and church HAD lied to me. That took me years to justify or rationalize. So here I am, an ape. I know why I am, much of how and why I don’t look like or act like other apes like we see at the zoo. I understand much of biology and genetics, or enough to understand how the number 5 is not really a magic number. In fact now, I know there is no magic, but something much more wonderful – evolutionary biology. I had to start learning chemistry to understand some of that biology stuff. It’s a lot of hard work when you are learning on your own.

For some 30 years I had no real clue that I was not alone in how I thought. Then the Internet happened.  Now I could explore much more, much faster than ever before. I am a human ape and I know how to explain why that is true and why it is wonderful. For millions of years life struggled on this planet, fearful of death, not knowing how the universe works. Here I sit doing what would only be explained as magic 2000 years ago telling people that I do not know that I am happy to be an ape. I realize that I live in an important point of human history and in some way I play a part in it. This one happy ape is helping to make history that cannot be unwritten, that will push my species into a future that is both unsure and immeasurably exciting and inspiring. My cousins have walked on the moon, ripped open the atom, mapped the universe, cured diseases and many, many more wondrous things that would have been only described as magic 2000 years ago.

There is nothing in this universe that can take that away from me. Nothing. I am proud to be an ape, happy to be alive, and filled with incomprehensible awe of both what we know and what we know that we don’t know.

I hope that you too share this awe of life, of the very happy accident that we are here in this moment, that we can sniff a flower and not only swan in the scent but know almost everything about each and every cell in that flower…. and it does not diminish the wonder of the scent, the event, or the memory of that experience. I’m everything that every one of my predecessors was and so much more. I proudly stand on the backs and shoulders of giants and gardeners alike, and from here I can look out on to the world and see galaxies and stars that are so far away that their light would never have been detected without the use of tools that my cousins have created.  No monarch in history has been as fortunate as I… as you.

But then, I’m just an ape on a pale blue dot…. what do I know.

God Is Not Necessary!

I get chain mail sometimes. I’m posting one of them below … without the god parts. It’s a good thing and does not need a god to make it goodness

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Breakfast at McDonald’s

This is a good story and is true, please read it all the way through until the end!

I am a mother of three (ages 14, 12, 3) and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring with the qualities that I wish every human being had been graced with. Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’ The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, I thought this would be a piece of cake, Literally.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did.
I did not move an inch… An overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling’ His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of honesty as he searched f or acceptance….

He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching..

The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted.

He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford. (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something. He just wanted to be warm).

Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes.. That is when I noticed all eyes in the  Restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand.

He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’

I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you.. it makes me feel good to show people there is hope in the world.’ I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son…. When I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why I love you, Honey, to give me hope..’

We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that it is wonderful that we were we able to give and show kindness to another human.

I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said, ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded as she got the attention of the class. She began to read and that is when I knew that we as human beings share this need to heal people and to be healed. In my own way I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons I would ever learn:

UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE.

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It’s not so hard to accept others as they are, it’s just not exactly normal. More of it would be a good thing… no gods needed.

Be, be well, be happy

Why Science Doesn’t Have The Answers

As is often the case, science seems to lag behind common sense. What is common sense needs to be tested rigorously for science to say that yes, common sense is right. This is how it should be, despite common sense.

In this particular case science is trying to corroborate common sense, or what is commonly observed. There are a lot of factors that are difficult to test and observe in many such cases. Take, for example, the thought that Neanderthals interbred with homo sapiens. Common sense says that if they can copulate, they will.

Older human apes are happier because they have fewer worries.

  • They are no longer competing for mates
  • They are no longer seeking social approval on the same insecurity level as 20 year old humans
  • They have a larger body of knowledge
  • They are not competing with others to change the world or similar goals
  • Many do not feel the need to have your approval for their beliefs or actions

The question should not be why are they more happy, but why are younger humans not happy as they can be. Sometimes it is all in how you ask the question and why you ask it. The question in this case is asked with the assumption that 22 year old human apes are the norm. This is a wrong assumption. Humans with the most knowledge (on average) should be the normative value. The question should be why are 25 year old human apes not as happy as they should be?

Ahhhh science…..

 

 

Now What? What is the next level of Atheism?

Okay… so now you are an atheist, you’ve decided you are, told people you are. You did all the hard work to investigate and validate what you believe as true and kept what is true while leaving behind what cannot be shown to be true. Now what? You didn’t think this through that far yet? Didn’t see this coming? Well, here it is … right in your face!

Just what the hell do atheists do? What are you supposed to do now that  you’re an atheist.

Lets try to put perspective on it by shining light on it in different ways:

  • So you’re a high school graduate, now what?
  • So you’re a college graduate, now what?
  • So you’re 18, now what?
  • So you’re 21, now what?
  • So your married, now what?
  • So your divorced, now what?
  • So you gave up smoking, now what?
  • So you started working out, now what?

I feel certain that it’s not difficult to figure out that in all these cases the part that comes next is often described as ‘getting on with life’ or something close to that. It’s all the things you did before but without religious dogma, banalities, lies, hatred, bigotry, misogyny, and prejudice. It’s all the things you did before without the pretending to believe to fit in, without fear of what people will think or worse, what they will say or how they will treat you. It’s all the things you did before without any of the marginalization that the theists are ever so willing to shove on top of you… well, at least you don’t have to suffer it in silence anymore.

So, what can you do with your new found lease on life? All the things you could do before. Be good for goodness sake. Take care of the weak and feeble in your community. Fight waste and maltreatment of others when you can. Of course, you can simply stop getting up on Sundays and nothing more. The real point is that being an atheist does not mean you have to do anything except not believe in gods. That’s it. The rest of your life is all up to you. Don’t trust others to tell  you how to live. Be and live, experience, fail, succeed, learn… take full advantage of the curiosity and ability to think that evolution has given to you. That, in a nutshell, is all there is. Find things that make you happy, things that alleviate the boredom or pain. Do them as often as you can, enjoy your life.

Living (or life as we know it on this planet) in nutshell can be described thusly: eat, breathe, drink, sleep, wake… repeat. There are many more complex things that arise from simply trying to accomplish these few simple tasks. The complexity of them gives rise to greatness and tragedy. Somewhere in between is where most of us find ourselves. There is no shame in being in the middle. If everyone was ‘great’ then nobody would be. Likewise, if all were tragedies, none would be. There must be a spectrum to have the endpoints of experience.

Be proud of  knowing this much of yourself, for who you are and what you are is something many people have to rely on the rumor mill to find out. It’s much better that you know first hand than find out from a local gossip. Trust me, looking in that mirror is not all fun and games, and I’ll be the first to congratulate you on the bravado it takes to complete this introspective test of adulthood.To thine own self be true.

Many will seek community, companionship, and support. As apes, this is what evolution has given us as part of our toolbox for survival. It has naught to do with atheism or even theism. Theists tend to make these part of their theism, but that’s just marketing tricks.

On your journey I hope you will find that there is no ethic or morality beyond the law of reciprocity for every good or moral or ethical law or action is based on this one. Some call it the golden rule. It existed before religion. It exists in nature. Many mammals have been observed using this law in their social structures and interactions. When faced with a discussion or argument which may be beyond your reading level or education, evaluate it against this one ethical law.

Other than that, read, seek out further knowledge. Improve yourself, your life, and your world view. If you look at the life of Christopher Hitchens you’ll see someone who stuck to it, who read, who argued against stupidity, bigotry, hatred and the banal. He did so till he was unable to continue. If you want a role model, he is not a bad one. There are others. Perhaps you will be a role model for others.

If you want some humor, search for some Mark Twain quotes. Then spend some time on Google watching the Hitch Slaps.

Be well

Christmas Card for Erin, Fred, Katharine, William, and Bill

The twenty seconds of tearing paper from a box on a single day does not make right all the other 364.

I’m sorry.

Not because I think I’ve hurt you or mad you sad.

Because I’ve hurt me, and it makes me sad.

I’ve often thought of dropping by to say hello, share a smile and a moment.

Life is tough, busy, or so it seems. Maybe I’m just lazy, maybe I’m afraid.

I don’t know the whole truth… maybe never will.

I have a very short list of regrets. I’m adding this one to it.

I don’t make new year’s resolutions. This one I make.

I will not regret this same thing next year.

I’m sorry

I’m sorry that I have missed so much

thank you for being you

What Is Happiness?

Here’s a thought for you, What IS happiness?

Merriam-Websters says:

1  obsolete : good fortune : prosperity

2  a : a state of well-being and contentment : joy

    b : a pleasurable or satisfying experience
Hmmm that is not very helpful. Lets see what contentment means, back to Merriam-Websters : the quality or state of being contented, that wasn’t too helpful. Contented, it says, is : feeling or showing satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation. This is getting circular. Okay, satisfaction is supposed to mean

1  a : the payment through penance of the temporal punishment incurred by a sin

   b : reparation for sin that meets the demands of divine justice
2 a : fulfillment of a need or want
   b : the quality or state of being satisfied : contentment
   c : a source or means of enjoyment : gratification
3 a : compensation for a loss or injury : atonement, restitution
   b : the discharge of a legal obligation or claim
   c : vindication
4   : convinced assurance or certainty <proved to the satisfaction of the court>

Okay, but what if you have no needs or wants? What if you fulfill them as soon as they occur? How can one be satisfied thus contented, thus happy if you have no needs or wants? It would appear that the struggles of life are necessary for happiness. How then do you find that in heaven?

I think it’s time to redefine some words. Not for the dictionaries per se, but lets try doing so for ourselves. Let us consider what we feel when we are happy. The word elation or joy seems a good way to describe it. There are some neuroscience thoughts on elation and spirituality and contentedness and joy: the story of Jill Bolte-Taylor’s brain hemorrhage is a good read.

It would appear that these basal emotions are based in the brain and not the spirit – whatever that might be if we have one. So it is fair to hypothesize that some situations or conditions set the stage for the chemical state(s) in our brains which allow us to experience these emotions. They can be different for everyone to some degree or another. You can have more than  you need and be unhappy, and not have anything you want but still be happy.

So really, it’s time we defined such words in terms of self. While you might think they already were, those definitions were rigged against common sense or understanding of such. I firmly hold that was is true for the best of us must also be true for the least of us. So is a pet’s happiness less worthy of attainment than our own? Is the happiness or joy of an autistic person of less value than our own? Is the hunger of a starving child less important than me missing a meal?

Happiness is a state of mind, regardless of physical conditions or situations. A moment of happiness is like a beautiful sunset – precious to the observer, fleeting, likely never to be repeated in quite the same way in a single lifetime. Happiness is subjective, not some objective state that can be given to you be a deity. Contentment is a subjective state of mind, not an objective state which can be given to you. The key here is state of mind. It happens in your mind, because of your mind. Without your mind such things cannot happen. The promise of eternal happiness and contentment is a lie. Your ability to experience these things dies when your brain stops working… at death.

UPDATE: I almost forgot the original thought: It’s okay to say that you find it difficult to be happy/content when this or that happens or when some person is not happy but you’ve got it all wrong if you say you can’t be happy unless this or that situation happens or some other person is happy. When you pin your happiness on something other than yourself – well, sister, you’re doing it all wrong. I don’t need a god to be happy. Think about that for a minute. Yes, what I’ve said gels with depression as a chemical problem and how some people just never seem to be happy, and why some people always seem to be happy. There is no god needed for happiness.

There you have it. Happiness is what you want it to be, or rather what makes your brain feel it. It has no objective meaning. Neither do joy or elation or contentment or ….. well, you get the picture. So what makes you happy? What do you do to make others happy? Anything?

Why not leave a comment to let us know.

UPDATE: (number 2) Sophie at dailyhealthboost.com reminded me to say that what I’m saying here completely gels with stress. She mentions so in her ‘about me’ blurb. Awesome.

 

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