The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell (Part 2)

Envy. Envy is very deep-seated and universal. Humans value distributive justice quite a bit. Adults also feel the same. Envy is the basis of democracy. Jealousy can happen among women too, especially when they get jealous over what each other wears. Women usually regard all other women as competitors. Men view other men in their profession as competitors. He wants to derive others of their advantages and feels good over it. Rather, one should admire rather than simply become jealous. What is the cure of envy? Envy is definitely an obstacle of happiness and largely stems from childhood. Parents who neglect their kids might be one cause of envy. Try to avoid comparing excessively. Envy is like a moral vice. If you compare your salary with someone else who is your equivalent but earning twice as much, that might make you jealous. To solve this, we should exercise mental discipline and not think profitless thoughts. There will always be someone who is smarter than you and earns more than you. If you are too modest, you might be more prone to envious feelings. It is good to be self-confident. Envy is closely connected with competition. Democracy has increased the range of envy. All bad things are interconnected. Fatigue is a frequent cause of envy. One way to diminish envy is to diminish fatigue. If you feel you have enough to bring up your kids the right way, you will be unlikely to feel jealous of others. Instinctive happiness is important. In modern society, the human heart is more prone to hatred as compared to friendship. To find the right road, Man must enlarge his heart as well as his mind.

Of all the characteristics of ordinary human nature envy is the most unfortunate; not only does the envious person wish to inflict misfortune and do so whenever he can with impunity, but he is also himself rendered unhappy by envy. – Betrand Russell

The habit of thinking in terms of comparisons is a fatal one. When anything pleasant occurs it should be enjoyed to the full, without stopping to think that it is not so pleasant as something else that may possibly be happening to someone else. – Betrand Russell

You can get away from envy by enjoying the pleasures that come your way, by doing the work that you have to do, and by avoiding comparisons with those whom you imagine, perhaps quite falsely, to be more fortunate than yourself. – Betrand Russell

When a man feels inadequate to the work he has to do, he feels a general discontent which is exceedingly liable to take the form of envy towards those whose work is less exacting. – Betrand Russell

But by far the most important thing is to secure a life which is satisfying to instinct. – Betrand Russell

The positive sum of pleasures in a modern man’s life is undoubtedly greater than was to be found in more primitive communities, but the consciousness of what might be has increased even more. – Betrand Russell

Man knows there is something better than himself almost within his grasp, yet he does not know where to seek it or how to find it. In despair he rages against his fellow man, who is equally lost and equally unhappy. – Betrand Russell

The Sense of Sin. Sin is one of the main causes in adulthood. Some do not believe that if you sin, your conscience will prick you. Conscience could also mean the fear of being found out. People avoiding sinning because of the risk that they would be discovered. Also, it would be difficult to explain to your friends why you committed a crime. Sin also has its roots in the unconscious. However, one should wallow in self-pity even though you have sinned. Saints would not simply do something because it gave them pleasure. Rationally, drinking would be okay if it gave you pleasure but no counter-balancing pain to oneself or to others. Hence, the logic that saints cannot drink or smoke might be a bit flawed. Sometimes, lying is justified too. The concern are that some adults teach something unwise and the kid develops an irrational sense of sin. Man must not be swayed by their moods. Moments of weakness give less insight than moments of strength. One should examine their reasons for actions and what caused the remorse. Your conscious beliefs should be firm enough to over-write your unconscious decisions. Do not let irrationality dominate you. Do not be partially swayed by reason and partially by infantile folly. A modern man can be tempted to commit harmful acts. Our nominal morality may have been shaped by priests etc and it was not derived from a study of an individual’s duty to the community. Learn to rebel against age-old traditions. A man should question superstitious morality. Sin makes man unhappy and jealous of others having a good time. Different parts of personality should be in sync so that you can be happy. A certain amount of self-reflection a day is useful. Some people think can rationally can kill all deeper emotions. I disagree. Being rational will not make your life dull as you can still pursue things like love, passion in work etc. The less inward conflicts you have, the more you can channel your energies towards the contemplation of the world. Reason is necessary in effecting a cure. The modern man is simply loving strong distractions and because they will prevent painful thought for that reason. Intoxication is his relief from pain. The greater your possession of faculties, the better.

An expansive and generous attitude towards other people not only gives happiness to others, but is an immense source of happiness to its possessor, since it causes him to be generally liked. – Betrand Russell

What I suggest is that a man should make up his mind with emphasis as to what he rationally believes, and should never allow contrary irrational beliefs to pass unchallenged or obtain a hold over him, however brief. – Betrand Russell

Nothing is so dull as to be encased in self, nothing so exhilarating as to have attention and energy directed outwards. – Betrand Russell

The greatest happiness comes with the most complete possession of one’s faculties. It is in the moments when the mind is most active and the fewest things are forgotten that the most intense joys are experienced. The happiness that requires intoxication of no matter what sort is a spurious and unsatisfying kind. – Betrand Russell

Persecution Mania. Persecution mania is a form of insanity. People feel like others will want to cause injury on them. Sometimes, they may commit acts of violence. If someone is victimized, it is likely the cause lies in himself. He might just be seeking attention. Such a patient must be able to understand. You are unlikely to feel happy if you feel you are mistreated by everybody. Almost everyone says malicious things about others. However, when others say malicious things of them, they are filled with indignant amazement. Gossip can lead to persecution mania. We should have to hide our feelings towards our friends. Never think that your misfortunes affords the key to the Universe. Do not be horrified if you do good to others but receive no gratitude. Remember that your motives are not always as altruistic as they seem to yourself. Don’t over-estimate your own merits. Don’t expect others to take as much interest in you as you do yourself. Don’t imagine that most people give enough thought to you to have any special desire to persecute you. The above are very valuable lessons that one should remember. Understand that not everyone else will have the same world-view as you. If nobody likes your work, perhaps it is the quality of work that is no good and one might have to accept this fact. If you want to produce quality work because of fame, it is unlikely that you will pursue the goal with much persistence. People see things from their point of view, which you may not agree. If you are a common man and think that everyone is against you, you are on the road to insanity. Never build your life based on self-deception.

It does not occur to us that we cannot expect others to think better of us than we think of them, and the reason this does not occur to us is that our own merits are great and obvious, whereas those of others, if they exist at all, are only visible to a very charitable eye. – Betrand Russell

Whatever is to be done can only be done adequately by the help of a certain zest, and zest is difficult without some self-regarding motive. – Betrand Russell

The test is this: do you produce because you feel an urgent compulsion to express certain ideas or feelings, or are you actuated by the desire for applause? – Betrand Russell

Whatever your line in life may be, if you find that others do not rate your abilities as highly as you do yourself, do not be too sure that it is they who are mistaken. – Betrand Russell

Fear of Public Opinion. Catholics do not believe in divorce. Even if your set of values differ from another person, you may be an outcast. Sometimes, if society doesn’t accept your values, you might feel like you have not been treated well. Not many are strong enough to have a brave inner life and ignore public opinion. It can be difficult to go against the social construct. Sometimes, it might be necessary to conceal your real tastes and convictions from most people in order to gain social acceptance. Hence, you mustn’t be afraid of public criticism. Sometimes, it might be good to enter a career which would give you a chance of congenial companionship, even if it means a considerable loss of income. It is okay sometimes to be out of sync with your environment and not be in harmony with it. Never let public criticism embitter you and impair your energy. The old should not simply be allowed to regulate the lives of the young. Do not simply give up because your parents tell you to. However, if professional opinion is against you, you should pay attention to it. One should not voluntarily submit to public tyranny and opinion. A society where everyone is alike can be boring too. People should be allowed to follow their spontaneous tastes. In modern society, it should be much easier to find a congenial soul. Fear of public opinion stuns growth and is oppressive. One should be themselves and have freedom of expression.

Public opinion is always more tyrannical towards those who obviously fear it than towards those who feel indifferent to it. – Betrand Russell

As a matter of fact, any man who can obviously afford a car but genuinely prefers travel or a good library will in the end be much more respected than if he behaved exactly like everyone else. – Betrand Russell

It is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbours, or even our relations. – Betrand Russell

Part 2: Causes of Happiness

Causes of Happiness. Happy comes in two forms, one that is plain and fancy or animal and spiritual. I will now describe the 2 forms of happiness. One type is only available to those who can read and write. You can be happy simply from the sufficiency of work and overcoming challenges. An example is that of my gardener. He is interested in slaying rabbits in the course of his work. However, superior people will not unlikely to find joy in this. If you are educated, you would want different activities to achieve the pleasures in life. Don’t be too sure of your abilities in life. There is no need for complex emotions. In general, society respects scientists more than artists. Artists could very well be less happy than men of science. Young people tend to be unhappy that they have no adequate employment for their best talents. Political circumstances in the West are stable and they should affect a young man’s happiness. If you feel powerless, you will not tend to be happy. A powerless guy becomes a reformer/ revolutionary. In life, not only scientists are happy. In fact, it is possible for almost everyone to derive pleasure from their work. The study of shells brings contentment to those who engage in it. There might be less handicraft work in the modern age. The ultimate aim is for machines to perform uninteresting work and humans are reserved for the work involving variety and initiative. Companionship and co-operation also make man happy. Belief in a cause can lead to happiness too. It is useful to find a cause to believe in. One can be absorbed in a hobby, for example, like stamp-collecting. The joy in your hobby can provide consolation to you if you are not making progress at work. We should not think ourselves ‘too superior’ for simple pleasures in life. Hobbies are perhaps not the fundamental source of happiness. A friendly interest in persons and things are more important. Learn to observe people and find pleasure in individual traits. Never try to exert power of others or to make them envy you. One needs to be genuinely happy in himself and not from an idea of self-sacrifice. One can also like things, like how a geologist takes an interest in rocks. Although not as important as being friendly towards others, taking an interest towards things matters too. When you take interest in something, you might be able to acquire a poise and calm which will help you deal with your troubles.

Many of the most eminent of men of science are emotionally simple, and obtain from their work a satisfaction so profound that they can derive pleasure from eating and even marrying. – Betrand Russell

All the conditions of happiness are realized in the life of the man of science. He has an activity which utilizes his abilities to the full. – Betrand Russell

Very few men can be genuinely happy in a life involving continual self-assertion against the skepticism of the mass of mankind, unless they can shut themselves up in a coterie and forget the cold outer world. – Betrand Russell

The pleasure of work is open to anyone who can develop some specialized skill, provided that he can get satisfaction from the exercise of his skill without demanding universal applause. – Betrand Russell

It is easy to find some cause which is in no degree fantastic, and those whose interest in any such cause is genuine are provided with an occupation for their leisure hours and a complete antidote to the feeling that life is empty. – Betrand Russell

We have all experienced collecting small items in boyhood, but have thought them, for some reason, unworthy of a grown man. This a complete mistake; any pleasure that does no harm to other people is to be valued. – Betrand Russell

Being happy in himself, he will be a pleasant companion, and this in turn will increase his happiness. – Betrand Russell

To like many people spontaneously and without effort is perhaps the greatest of all sources of personal happiness. – Betrand Russell

The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible, and let your reactions to the things and persons that interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile. – Betrand Russell

Zest. Zest is the common mark of happy men. There are those who thinking eating is a bore or uninteresting. They regard meals as common occurrences. There are those who eat from a sense of duty. There are those who eat too much as well. It is not vulgar to be able to enjoy your food. The mind needs materials from the external world, or it will remain powerless. Events only become experiences if we take interest in them. Learn to turn your attention outwards. Life is never boring to someone who can pay attention to casual objects. The more things you are interested in, the more you can adapt to the world. You can analyze passer-bys that you see. Some men who not keep an open mind and do not enjoy holidays as much. Some men choose to learn about the place, the culture etc and can better appreciate the place more. The man who has the zest for life has an advantage. Experiencing new things are good, provided they do not harm your health. Zest can be very specialized in nature. It is more important to have a general zest for life. We were not ready to praise the gormandizer. In life, there must be a balance between different activities. Do not do things in excess. Our tastes need to fit in the general framework of life. You must still be able to earn an income to buy necessaries etc. If you like chess, it is okay to look forward to playing after working hours but there is no need to give up your work to play. If you need to make sacrifices in life, ensure that you will succeed. Some men like to drink in order to forget things. Habits are regular whereas impulses are irregular. Most people do not have impulse towards the activity, but towards the rewards of the activity. Hence, people’s zest are somewhat restrained. Spontaneous impulse will not produce the necessary results too. Zest requires high energy levels and is very important. In the past, women learnt not to care about anything. This is rather unfortunate and zest is both important for men and women in life.

The man who enjoys watching football is to that extent superior to the man who does not. The man who enjoys reading is still more superior to the man who does not, since opportunities for reading are more frequent than opportunities for watching football. – Betrand Russell

The more things a man is interested in, the more opportunities of happiness he has, and the less he is at the mercy of fate, since if he loses one thing he can fall back upon another. – Betrand Russell

Life is too short to be interested in everything, but it is good to be interested in as many things as are necessary to fill our days. – Betrand Russell

It is quite impossible to guess in advance what will interest a man, but most men are capable of a keen interest in something or other, and when once such an interest has been aroused their life becomes free from tedium. – Betrand Russell

The man, let us say, who loves chess, if he happens to be a bachelor with independent means, need not restrict his passion in any degree, whereas if he has a wife and children and no independent means, he will have to restrict it very severely. – Betrand Russell

The man who has never been fundamentally thwarted will retain his natural interest in the external world, and so long as he retains it he will find life pleasant unless his liberty is unduly curtailed. – Betrand Russell

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