It’s not my intention to offend anyone.
I’m merely exploring what makes me happy now.
I’m not advocating anyone else should do anything I’m trying out.
Only you can decide what makes YOU happy.
There are basically two broad types of happiness.
In the past I’ve personally tended to focus perhaps too much on the eudaemonic side of well being. All the ‘worthy’ stuff.
I even had the stoic virtues of “Justice, Wisdom, Temperance and Courage” tattooed on my arm for goodness sake!
But recently when I began this investigation into how I could be happy now – I realised I mostly neglected the hedonic side of life. However, the short term, feel good of simple hedonic fun is important. It lifts the spirits.
What I’m realising in my quest to be happy now – with life the way it is, rather than how I anticipated it would be – or would prefer – is that it’s not a matter of either hedonic or eudaiemonic. I know I’ve been guilty of this kind of either / or, black and white thinking. Which can actually be a source of UNHAPPINESS. This kind of thinking, sometimes called splitting, is the inability of a person to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It’s a common defence mechanism. The individual tends to think in extremes. I might explore this in a future post.
One way of creating happiness could be finding a good healthy balance of the two types. Because I’m a bit out of balance, weighed too heavily in favour of eudaemonic, I’m on a quest to stack up on the hedonic.
And this is where this post might get a little contentious.
Starting to drink my much loved red wine again after 3 years of total abstinence, is maybe debatable in terms of whether it’s a good thing. But it’s definitely a hedonic activity.
Personally, at this point in my life, it’s a pleasure I no longer wish to deny myself.
Over the years, I’ve had quite widely differing opinions about alcohol. Presently, I feel so long as I’m not using it to it numb painful feelings – which need to be experienced, validated and processed – nor to blot out thoughts which need to be ‘thunk’ then it’s ok.
Having worked with people in recovery I am well aware of how important it is for some people NEVER to drink. When we drink, the brain’s so-called reward circuits are flooded with dopamine. This produces euphoric feelings, what we recognise as that ‘buzz’. This can result in a lowering of inhibitions and lack of self-control. If we drink to excess, this can lead to making poor choices and then having to live with the consequences. Not merely the physical hang over, but the hang over of our actions and words.
For someone with a problem, it’s often said – ‘one drink is too many and a thousand is not enough’. So I’m NOT advocating drinking alcohol. I am merely saying that for me personally, at this point in my life – as long as I savour the hedonic enjoyment of my favourite tipple, it’s ok.