How to Be Happy 1

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What are the keys to happiness? What makes us happy?

It's a tricky issue and everyone seems to have different opinions.

Me, for example, thinking that becoming a porn star must be the best job ever. However, some will argue that it's such a bad job it can't possibly be consented and therefore has to be prohibited.

I think marriage is a trap to mitigate disparity of sexual desirability. Many people are unhappily married. Again, some religious fundamentalists will argue that it's the only way to find happiness that any information that suggests otherwise are dangerous for minors and should be censored.

There is always a shortcut, like drug, of course. But what's the normal way?

There are two credible theories that we know so far about happiness.

The first is consumerism. You gain happiness by buying products or service. This theory is very useful in the economy class. Not only this gives some form of ideas of what good and happiness is, it makes happiness as something measurable.

For example, say you are willing to spend some money to buy an apple. Then that apple is good for you. Not only that, we know how good the apple is for you by observing the amount of money you're willing to sacrifice for that apple. Things go further.

In the process of maximizing your happiness, you will allocate your money in ways that maximize your happiness. If you spend the same amount of money on an apple and an orange, you will get the same amount of happiness on all marginal areas of allocation where you spend your money.

For example, say you spend $1 to buy an apple and then $1 to buy 2 oranges. Then the happiness that you get from 1 apple must be the same with the happiness that you get from the 2 oranges. Why? Say 1 apple gives you more happiness than 2 oranges, then you wouldn't spend any money on oranges and will use all your $2 to buy apples instead.

This understanding has a long application in deciding whether our economies run efficiently or not. Each of us maximize a certain factor, called utility function. For humans that means happiness, for firms that means profit. A well efficient socio-economic system will be one where what maximizes each firms' profit is what maximizes productivity as a whole. That system, is not very far from libertarian free fair market mechanism.

Under this theory, humans are presumed to maximize their happiness. Hence, under this theory, nobody can be made better off by usage of coercion that limit his choice. Of course, the theory is not perfect. I still remember when I was firesold a worthless water filter for a hefty price of $500.

However, such cases where our informed decision is not our best interests are quite rare. On average, we can be assured that we'll achieve more happiness when we have more choices than when we do not.

This doesn't explain why people think of becoming a porn star is a bad job or why information suggesting alternative happiness outside marriage should be censored. It seems that people will be better off if they have more choices, including becoming a porn star. If they do not want to be a porn star, or do not like porn, then they can simply choose not to. How can anyone be made happier by prohibitions that restricts human freedom?

Moreover, the more well informed we are, the more we know what we're getting when we make a decision. So, all information, including porn, should be good for anyone. Why people insist that some information are so dangerous it should be prohibited?

Now it comes another theory of happiness. Namely, evolution theory.


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