Recent readings include an articles on V.S. Ramachandran, a very peculiar and noted neurologist (inspiring scientist), George Orwell's death, and a 72 year long Harvard study in which male Harvard College graduates from the 1930's were followed for their entire lifetimes to find correlations between different lifestyles/character traits and ultimate happiness. While I learned some good information about the mind from the Ramachandran article, the article about happiness is really the most important for me right now. It really turns out that no man of the 80 some people followed was ever truly happy as we imagine it. There was a top 10, but over the course of 72 years, only 3 men actually held a place in it the entire time, and even they had issues, most likely ones that they were not reporting to the study. More over, if they were not reporting them it is possible that it was because they were not aware of those issues or defended against them.
The only real conclusion that is made with the study is that one's relationships to other people are the only thing that affect happiness in ones life. How one interacts with others is a prime determinant, and actually the only one. The amount of money you make, once your basic needs are met, of course, has a negligible effect. Physical health in college correlates with better mental health in old age but not better physical health. Alcohol addiction is bad.
There are others but the thing that stood out to me is the relationships part. It makes sense, we are social animals. This idea that interactions with others are the most critical for man's happiness and contentment really shows that human consciousness is an after-effect of the mind's processes. Our self-awareness is separate from our instincts, if that makes sense. That what plagues us and delights us and allows us to enjoy the universe as well as what gives the universe meaning (in a sense) is really an effect, a by-product. If we weren't self-aware, we would have our relationships. Our lives would perhaps be more forward and direct, more violent, cruel, but we'd still interact. I guess morals and culture penetrate the malleable brain... we make interaction so complicated. Do we?! How!? man, I'm learning that.
I want to attach a cartoon. It represents something that I struggle with, and that is my own silence. That is way too simple but I am starting out small.