Blog of Sara Jakša

What Makes us Happy: Self Identity

The second thing is how happiness and our pursued of happiness is connected to self-identity. Let me again start with the most usual objection: happiness is about being creative.

Thankfully there is a person that researched creativity and commented a lot of first person data about how it is to experience creativity. I am of course talking about Csikszentmihalyi. Well, when I was reading his book, and he also says it himself, in the state of flow, which is the so called creative state, people don't feel happiness. They don't don't feel any negative emotions, because there is no place for the emotions in that space.

There was some talk that solving a problem with creativity brings the positive feelings forward. But that they would not start solving a problem if not for some dissatisfaction with current knowledge or state. People don't innovate or show creative when the are satisfied or content with their life. So in this regard, we can not say that creativity is connected with happiness, as it seems it requires both, negative and positive emotions.

Also, what makes us happy is very much dependent on our identity that we project to ourselves and to other people. It gets a lot of help that we are really good at deceiving ourselves. For example, a person could enjoy the eating beef. They they become vegan and suddenly the don't enjoy it anymore. And it is not just related to the things that are directly related to pleasure, like food. It also extends to everything connected with out social image, from our possessions, to the ideas we hold and many more.

Is that not the reason why some people buy organic? This is just an example, but I doubt that they get that much more happiness out of it. I mean, there people are actually happier because of a word on the food. I could put this word on the nonorganic food, and it would have the same affect on them.

Don't believe me? Check some of the studies on framing effect.

The last argument that I am going to bring forward is the argument of dignity, that Morioka touched upon. This thought experiment goes like this:

You and your child go down the street. You child is killed by a car. You are given the perfect happiness drug, so you don't feel any negative emotions.

One of the questions asked were, if you feel anything wrong with this scenario. Would you say that the person is happy? Would you accept this kind of happiness for yourself?

Happiness can be just an consequence of our current frame. Putting it in the centre of our endeavour can, in my opinion, be a suboptimal solution to solving out the problem of how to live a life.