Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pleasant, Good or Meaningful

Pleasant, Good or Meaningful ...   In the positive psychology (PP) philosophy, much is similar to the classic period. The Stoic Philosophy and similar, including Epicurus, Cynics, and Christians that existed at that time are all examples of PP philosophy.

In life there are three general groups of life philosophies. The Pleasant life is a pleasure, sensory based life where the ultimate aim is enjoyment, which is all fine when conditions are good. Epicurus defined this lifestyle, and some of it's issues. He suggested that we avoid areas that would upset us, like politics, perhaps marriage, sexual encounters with others, employment... and to live frugal and near self-sufficient lives, to develop frugal tastes, and take the time to enjoy and savor everything, especially companionship. The pleasant life is the result.

The Stoics had the approach that virtue was the only good, and that is in our control. If we always do the right thing, then we are right, and can take solace in the fact that we did right, regardless of the outcome. If there was wrong done, it was not by us. This inward looking approach to life produces satisfaction regardless of the conditions and outcome. We are in control always.

The Meaningful life is achieved by adopting a philosophy, purpose, or objective and working toward it. That purpose could be family, altruism, business, politics, nation, religion, anything. It requires that one never questions the value of your chosen purpose or philosophy. Add a bit of supernatural thinking and this becomes religion. Christians are a prime example.

Any of the above three are suitable methods of developing a satisfying life; but only one is within our control. The Meaningful life may feel good while you are doing it, but on later examination, may be all based on a false premise, and can you deal with that? Or even accept that? Oh well, such is the premise of religion.

Some of the PP folks seem to think that these three are a progression, but I think that there is no progression, only choice and that the good life, once recognized, is the hands down winner. So looking inward, I support Stoic philosophy and looking outward Humanism. We have both ways of looking, and we must observe both directions for peace.            

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