June 21st, 2011


This has sort of been obvious for a while, but it really crystalised in the last couple of months. My happiness function is different than Margaret's and a lot of peoples'. She describes some sort of composite happiness: if things are generally going well, she's happy; if they are not, she is not.

I sort of have that. however, for me, it's much more like I'm happy when there's no reason to be unhappy. If anything is going badly then it puts a significant cap on my maximum happiness. If I can fix it, then I become happy. If I can convince myself I don't care, then I can become happy, although that takes a bit longer than if I can just fix things.

Obviously this is a rough sketch of what's going on. I actually spend most of my time generally happy, so it's not like my world must be perfect for me to enjoy it. Also, obviously some problems effect me more than others.

Margaret has suggested that I change to a more normal outlook on happiness. I'm not entirely sure that's possible although I've had success with similar scale self-reprogramming in the past, so it's believable that it might be. However, at the moment I'm not at all sure I'd want to change. The goal isn't just to be happy: I'm sure with the right drugs I'd be happy all or most of the time. For me at least the goal is to have the prospect and actuality of happiness as a forcing function. It gives me a reason to fix stuff, deal with things and not let them pile up. I really like that I have fairly strong incentives to fix my problems. It does sometimes create stress, for example when it's important for me to try and work on something so I can be happy, but when the same issue is good enough for someone else who would need to work with me.

I suspect I will continue to ponder and refine over the coming months.