John Paul: Thanks for your post and your willingness to discuss happiness. I plan to respond paragraph by paragraph, noting our agreements briefly and explaining, almost as briefly, I hope, my reasons for disagreeing.
Aurelius says nothing specific enough for me (or anyone else, I suspect) to know what to do to apply his advice.
I don't know what Murphy means by "subconscious mind." I do know what he means by "habitual thinking." Fot me that's the massive amount of words I produce and locate somewhere in my head. His advice seems to boil down to think positive, happy thoughts and you'll be happy. That is advice that's been around for years. It may work for some. Until they run into a bit of reality. Then it seems to stop working for almost everybody.
"How can we possibly control what seeps into our brains?" Good question, John Paul. Do you have an answer? Your 3600 thoughts per hour is interesting. Is there some research demonstrating that? I'd appreciate a reference. How did they define a thought, what did they count? Words? Sentences? Paragraphs? English 1 may have told me that each paragraph should contain a complete thought.
Now your list of things to put into practice.
1. Put it all in perspective. I'm unsure what "it" refers to. Each thought I might have? Some vague global idea I have about what's happening in the world? Something a bit larger than each thought but smaller than my vague global idea
And "in perspective." I just said, "OK, Rusty, try to do it!" The "it" I hit on was the view out my front window. Perspective is already there, distant, nearer, in between. I'm sure that's not what you mean by perspective. My guess is you mean some additional thought, an additional set of words. Is my guess correct, John Paul? I'd like to put your advice into practice, John Paul, but I don't know how. How do you put it into practice? I know clear communication is difficult, but let's try.
2. "Take one day at a time." Very old, standard and useless advice. Basic meaning, I think, is not to think about tomorrow. But how do I, you John Paul, or any other individual do that? Are you successful in not thinking about tomorrow? I'm not. I'm looking forward to my date wth Veronica at 9 tomorrow. I anticipate much enjoyment then. That makes me happy now. Futuring very much or very distantly in time is a key to unhappiness. I seldom think about anything past tomorrow, but I do keep a calendar and its entries remind me of things I want to do today, perhaps even tomorrow.
3. "Use self suggestion statements." I assume these would be about how you want yourself to be at some future point. Am I right, John Paul? Is it suggesting to myself that I am different than I am at the moment? That makes no sense. "I yam, what I yam, and that's all I yam." as Popeye used to say in the funny papers. My bet is Popeye, along with me, is much happier not suggesting to ourselves we'll be different in the future.
That's more than enough questions for you, John Paul. We can discuss the rest of your post later. I look forward to your answer and to any questions you might want to ask me.
Now, Wm.: I like the idea that a key to happiness can fit into one paragraph. I'm unsure what you mean by a formula for happiness. When I say there is no formula for happiness, I mean that no abstraction or set of abstractions is helpful to anyone in making themselves happy.
Keys, say short paragraphs using very concrete words as to what to do, I find very helpful.
Words are quite tricky. Many of them have emotional loadings. You say I take a "cynical" position. Very negatively loaded word. I prefer realistic to describe the same thing. I really don't think I'm a bad person when I point out bad or unclear advice that is not useful to me, and, in my opinion to anyone else. Do you think being realistic is a key to happiness, Wm.?
We agree, Wm. Communicating effective means to make one's self happy is a real challenge. I don't know any "secret" means. All of the effective ones have been around for centuries. They may be "secret" in that so many people obviously don't know how to make themselves happy. Do you really think there are secrets to happiness?
We make two happy people, Wm. I run across many in talking with strangers, which is one of my keys to happiness. Of some 1-200 strangers, or perhaps more, I have talked with over the past 7-8 years, my best guess is more than half, up to 70% are below the midpoint of a happiness/unhappiness rating scale. That guess is based on both what they say and as complete an observation of facial expression, posture, gestures, visible tension, etc. What's your best guess?
I like that your book is only 70 pages. Happiness needing "deep reflection"tends to turn me off. I don't think happiness is found in the depths. Finding it is more like noticing what's already right in front of your nose.
I'll look again in the libe for your book, Wm. You're right about my reading, except I do read library books. There are plenty there. I no longer waste my money buying books. I'll look for yours too, John Paul.
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