My research on happiness is like strolling through a strawberry field. There are so many delicious little areas that I want to sit down and enjoy instead of continuing through the field and picking intellectual strawberries for your consumption.
One trend that I've seen is that happiness can be made, and this come from both the spiritual and scientific ends.
Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk and said this in a 2004 TEDTalk:
Usually, when we feel annoyed, hatred or upset with someone, or obsessed with something, the mind goes again and again to that object. Each time it goes to the object, it reinforces that obsession or that annoyance. So then, it's a self-perpetuating process. So what we need to look now is, instead of looking outward, we look inward. Look at anger itself. It looks very menacing, like a billowing monsoon cloud or thunderstorm. But we think we could sit on the cloud -- but if you go there, it's just mist. Likewise, if you look at the thought of anger, it will vanish like frost under the morning sun.
Sir Thomas Brown wrote in 1642, "I am the happiest man alive.I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity.I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me."What kind of remarkable machinery does this guy have in his head?
Human beings have something that we might think of as a "psychological immune system." A system of cognitive processes, largely non-conscious cognitive processes, that help them change their views of the world, so that they can feel better about the worlds in which they find themselves. Like Sir Thomas, you have this machine. Unlike Sir Thomas, you seem not to know it.
We synthesize happiness.
One problem with undertaking this experiment, of studying one thing for a month, is that it's easy to get stuck on one train of thought. I enter a station of knowledge and hop onto a set of tracks and while the scenery I see along the way is wonderful, it's only what I can see from the tracks.
That said I feel good about this first idea, from a monk and man of science. Two intellectuals having the same idea about happiness, that we can make it. That's what I'm going to try this week - to make happiness. Instead of annoyance, lust, or hate I'm going to be pushing happiness faster than factories making electronics for Christmas.