Thursday, October 26, 2017

Einstein's formula for happiness

Meditations of a 21st century incarnation of Socrates as composed by Brent Silby

How does one achieve happiness? That has been one of the central questions driving my search for wisdom. I have argued that people who equate happiness with material gain will never actually achieve happiness. Many people disagree. They believe that more money and, by extension, more possessions will bring them happiness. But I wonder if I will ever meet anyone for whom this is true.

It may be true that buying a new product is accompanied by a good feeling. By Hercules, even I must admit to having experienced this. Natural philosophers who study the brain tell me that these feelings arise through the release of endorphins. Now we all know that such feelings are short lived. If I want to repeat the experience, I need to purchase something else. If this is happiness then happiness is fleeting and elusive. And this indicates to me that seeking happiness in this way will be relentless because I will be forever seeking out new products to reproduce those feelings. Happiness will be constantly slipping beyond by reach.

My solution was the realization that happiness is not to be found in material wealth. I took great pleasure in reminding everyone of this by walking around the Agora commenting that I did not need most of the product being sold. My search for happiness has lead me to the conclusion that all I need is good friends, a warm house, and food to eat. Freeing myself from excess material desire gives me more time to enjoy the world and engage in philosophy with friends. This is where happiness can be found.

It seems that a well known natural philosopher by the name of Einstein shares my view. After his stay at a hotel, he was short on cash and could not leave the bell boy a tip. Instead he left a note: "A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it." This is music to my ears.

The irony is that that this note has now been sold for $1.3 million, thus providing its former owner the fleeting illusion of happiness through material gain.

Here is a news article about the famous note:

-- Socrates