Saturday, March 26, 2011

313: The Brain and Happiness again

Joy and happiness are closely related, but they are not the same. While joy lasts often just a short time, happiness can last even days or months.

This is a reason not to call happiness an emotion, if we use as definition for emotion a force that organizes and activates a series of behaviors pointing all in the same direction.

So, we'd better call happiness a mood. Joy, on the other hand, is an experience of satisfaction. sometimes short,then again long lasting. Can joy be such a driving power? And what is the evolutionary advantage of joy?

Joy boosts our energy. It is as if our body gathers all energy and is ready for new actions. We are willing to get new experiences, ready for new impressions and learning experiences.

A happy mood enhances the sensitivity for certain stimuli, which facilities learning. A teacher, who is cheerful and makes a joke now and then, certainly creates a better learning environment than a chagrin. This has evolutionary value.

The joy, you experience is the result of a positive thing, a thing that is good for our mind or body. The brain reacts in its own way by activating certain pleasure centers which produce several neurotransmitters like endorfines and dopamine.

Thus as a support system for our survival and procreation the emotion of joy signals us that we are confronted with a positive and valuable situation and its message is simply: we want more…more … more…

There is one interesting issue here. I can enumerate a lot of things that cause joy, but among these is also art….. a beautiful painting, a symphony.

We know pottery, created by our ancestors, which is decorated with geometric patterns. Completely useless, it might appear. It doesn't add a thing to the functionality of the pot.

Yet, from our early days on, the homo sapiens has created such things, which we call art. What evolutionary value it had, we don't know.

Ok, you could say, that the aesthetic experience causes the feeling of joy, but that hardly answers the question, if you only call to mind the endless debate on the concept of beauty or the question "What is art?"

But from an evolutionary point of view there is more to joy. The emotion of joy has a strong social impact. When you see, that someone is happy, you easily will feel happy yourself. This sharing of joy tightens a bond.

It can increase the ease to cooperate, which again strengthens the cohesion in the group. And this is of course a big help in the evolutionary process.

And cooperation was a key issue for our ancestors; hunting together, building together their huts, taking care of the education of children together, and so on.

Brings happiness, whether it is an emotion or not - an evolutionary advantage? We always compare what we have with what we would like to have, or what others have and we don't have.

The more reality approaches our standard or goes beyond it, the better we feel. This can be an evolutionary advantage: humans who try to improve their happiness all their life, have a bigger chance to improve their life than those who don't care about happiness.

From an evolutionary point of view: then the happier your life is the better are your chances in survival and procreation and that is the drive of evolution: the survival of the species.

The eternal drive to improve the conditions of our survival is in our genes, it seems. However, we may feel happy with our job and carreer, but unhappy in our marriage.
Some say that happiness its the optimal functioning of our behavioral systems, like the job, marriage, the sport club, the group of friends.

While one behavioral system runs perfectly, another one may suck. From an evolutionary point of view it means that we don't have one drive for happiness, but many, one for each behavioral system. Natural selection likes that.

The discussion

[2011/03/24 13:23] herman Bergson: Thank you....
[2011/03/24 13:24] herman Bergson: If you have a question or a remark...the floor is yours
[2011/03/24 13:24] BALDUR Joubert: EVERYBODY HAPPY?
[2011/03/24 13:24] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[2011/03/24 13:24] BALDUR Joubert: HAPPY?
[2011/03/24 13:24] herman Bergson: YEAHHHH!!!!!
[2011/03/24 13:24] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
[2011/03/24 13:24] Anja Tigerfish: ^_^
[2011/03/24 13:25] Bejiita Imako: feel good for sure
[2011/03/24 13:25] herman Bergson: A happy sounding silence went through the classroom...^_^
[2011/03/24 13:25] Bejiita Imako: haha
[2011/03/24 13:25] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): is happiness a choice?
[2011/03/24 13:26] herman Bergson: I agree ..there is little question about this all ^_^
[2011/03/24 13:26] Bejiita Imako: aaa indeed but all u said is exactly how it is i'd say
[2011/03/24 13:26] herman Bergson: No is a genetically implanted drive I think
[2011/03/24 13:26] Bejiita Imako: when u r happy all is as it should be
[2011/03/24 13:27] herman Bergson: The only interesting thing is what I said in the former lecture...
[2011/03/24 13:27] BALDUR Joubert: yes but when in evolution and why did happiness occur... lets think before the arivalof mankind
[2011/03/24 13:27] herman Bergson: for centuries man had the belief that happiness was only achieved in the Afterlife...
[2011/03/24 13:28] herman Bergson: If the drive to improve survival conditions is the primary goal of organisms ..happiness was there before mankind ^_^
[2011/03/24 13:29] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): so an animal can be happy?
[2011/03/24 13:29] Mick Nerido: I think we want to be happy forever and can't in this life so we wish for it in the afterlife
[2011/03/24 13:29] herman Bergson: I would say yes....
[2011/03/24 13:29] Bejiita Imako: of course
[2011/03/24 13:29] herman Bergson: Have you ever seen the cows leaving the stables after e winter period....
[2011/03/24 13:29] Bejiita Imako: just look at a dog jumping around when it see someone it likes
[2011/03/24 13:29] herman Bergson: they act like crazy…total joy and happiness I would say
[2011/03/24 13:29] BALDUR Joubert: just dogs ?
[2011/03/24 13:30] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes, that they do commercials of in the milk packages here in sweden to come and watch
[2011/03/24 13:30] herman Bergson: no Baldur..we too :-)
[2011/03/24 13:30] Bejiita Imako: a sure spring sign
[2011/03/24 13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): but does not happiness depend on the knowledge of happiness?? i don't think so about animals
[2011/03/24 13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): joy yes
[2011/03/24 13:30] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): happiness mmmmm
[2011/03/24 13:30] herman Bergson: Well GEmma...
[2011/03/24 13:31] Kyra Neutron: wish all happy times...goes to find joy
[2011/03/24 13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): LOL
[2011/03/24 13:31] Bejiita Imako: hahah
[2011/03/24 13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): Bye, Bye
[2011/03/24 13:31] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): kyra
[2011/03/24 13:31] herman Bergson: wen you say..happiness is a mood....a kind of stable mental condition..a lot of organisms can experience that mood of well being I would say
[2011/03/24 13:31] Bejiita Imako: aa yes
[2011/03/24 13:31] herman Bergson: Well...for is known of animals that they can experience stress
[2011/03/24 13:32] herman Bergson: is even an issue in the bio-industry...
[2011/03/24 13:32] Zephon: animals mourn as well
[2011/03/24 13:32] herman Bergson: oh yes Zephon...
[2011/03/24 13:33] Zephon: I watched a film a mother leopard mourning for 4 days over the loss of her still born cub
[2011/03/24 13:33] Doodus Moose: Elephants seem to mourn their dead by handling their bones
[2011/03/24 13:33] herman Bergson: yes...such things happen....
[2011/03/24 13:33] herman Bergson: also well known of elephants....
[2011/03/24 13:33] Zephon: if they can mourn they can feel joy/happiness
[2011/03/24 13:34] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): i have a grumpy old's no fun at all
[2011/03/24 13:34] herman Bergson: I agree
[2011/03/24 13:34] herman Bergson: anold chagrin , Beertje?
[2011/03/24 13:34] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): old chagrin grumpy parrot
[2011/03/24 13:35] Bejiita Imako: hahah
[2011/03/24 13:35] herman Bergson smiles
[2011/03/24 13:35] Bejiita Imako: does it swear at you all time?
[2011/03/24 13:35] Mick Nerido: Is there a higherarchy of happiness?
[2011/03/24 13:35] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[2011/03/24 13:35] Zephon: When I lived in Panama I had a parrot the same .. but by times he was also very happy
[2011/03/24 13:35] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): oh yes..when he gets his spaghetty time..then he's happy!
[2011/03/24 13:36] herman Bergson: A hierarchie of happiness...Mick.....?
[2011/03/24 13:36] herman Bergson: I don't think there is an empirical base for that
[2011/03/24 13:36] Mick Nerido: List the order of what makes us most happy for instance
[2011/03/24 13:36] Zephon: I believe its a natural place for one to heal
[2011/03/24 13:36] Doodus Moose: Maslov's hierarchy of needs?
[2011/03/24 13:37] herman Bergson: yes I was thinking of that Doodus..but then we end up in all kinds of theories....
[2011/03/24 13:37] herman Bergson: and we shouldn't…
[2011/03/24 13:37] herman Bergson: what we may conclude is that happiness is a natural thing....innate in our system...
[2011/03/24 13:38] herman Bergson: And related to survival in an evolutionary sense
[2011/03/24 13:38] Zephon: So don't worry be happy :)
[2011/03/24 13:38] Bejiita Imako: aa yes
[2011/03/24 13:38] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): :-)
[2011/03/24 13:39] BALDUR Joubert: happy days....
[2011/03/24 13:39] Mick Nerido: Yes the happiest survive not the strongest
[2011/03/24 13:39] herman Bergson: will come to you quite naturally....just follow your basic drives
[2011/03/24 13:39] BALDUR Joubert: well not in japan i think
[2011/03/24 13:39] herman Bergson: True Mick...
[2011/03/24 13:39] Doodus Moose: :-)
[2011/03/24 13:39] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): in Japan people are happy....
[2011/03/24 13:39] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): they survived
[2011/03/24 13:39] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): not all...but most of them are
[2011/03/24 13:40] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): true Gemma
[2011/03/24 13:40] Mick Nerido: They are a stoic people
[2011/03/24 13:40] Gemma Allen (gemma.cleanslate): must be terrible tho
[2011/03/24 13:40] Bejiita Imako: ah
[2011/03/24 13:41] herman Bergson: Well....I guess you are all happy now...^_^
[2011/03/24 13:41] Bejiita Imako: I am „ã°
[2011/03/24 13:41] Zephon: well they decided to nuclear but i hope things return to normal again
[2011/03/24 13:41] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): that's why i happiness a choice??...can you choose things among be happy about
[2011/03/24 13:41] Bejiita Imako: ok now I gotta go check out a thing a while
[2011/03/24 13:41] Bejiita Imako: seems to be a lot of things today to check
[2011/03/24 13:41] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[2011/03/24 13:41] herman Bergson: No I wouldn't say that happiness is a is a way of being...
[2011/03/24 13:42] Bejiita Imako: busy thursday
[2011/03/24 13:42] herman Bergson: and you can bring it about or you don't…
[2011/03/24 13:42] Ciska Riverstone: enjoy Bejiita :-)
[2011/03/24 13:42] Bejiita Imako: true
[2011/03/24 13:42] Bejiita Imako: cu
[2011/03/24 13:42] herman Bergson: The organism seeks joy and general...
[2011/03/24 13:43] herman Bergson: It is in the genes...aiming at survival...
[2011/03/24 13:43] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): ah ok..thank you
[2011/03/24 13:43] herman Bergson: Well thank you all for your participation again today...^_^
[2011/03/24 13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): thank you Herman
[2011/03/24 13:44] herman Bergson: Class happy ^_^
[2011/03/24 13:44] Zephon: Thanks
[2011/03/24 13:44] Doodus Moose: (will work at it )
[2011/03/24 13:44] Mick Nerido: Thank happy to be here
[2011/03/24 13:44] Ciska Riverstone: Thank You Herman - interesting as always :)
[2011/03/24 13:44] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): laten wij allen happy wese....
[2011/03/24 13:44] BALDUR Joubert: well we never got close to the question of survival by looking at the origin of organisms and happiness..on me way it became important but under what circumstances
[2011/03/24 13:45] Anja Tigerfish: We have to say thanks
[2011/03/24 13:45] Anja Tigerfish: Thank You!!
[2011/03/24 13:45] Anja Tigerfish: ...DANKE :)))
[2011/03/24 13:45] herman Bergson: lecture will be about grief then ^_^
[2011/03/24 13:45] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): somewere it has a beginning
[2011/03/24 13:46] Doodus Moose: Thank you all - always enjoyable ;-)
[2011/03/24 13:46] herman Bergson: thank you Doodus
[2011/03/24 13:47] herman Bergson smiles
[2011/03/24 13:47] herman Bergson: You all want more????
[2011/03/24 13:47] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): yes..much more
[2011/03/24 13:47] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): laughs
[2011/03/24 13:47] herman Bergson: if that isn't a sign of joy !!!!
[2011/03/24 13:47] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): :)
[2011/03/24 13:48] Ciska Riverstone: :-) sorry - was distracted - enjoy your evening all :)
[2011/03/24 13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thanks! herman & Class! i feel happy and content in this class :-) see u soon!
[2011/03/24 13:48] herman Bergson: Danke Bergie ^_^
[2011/03/24 13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: ih habe zu danken!
[2011/03/24 13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: byebye all :-)
[2011/03/24 13:49] :: Beertje :: (beertje.beaumont): bye all...see you all tuesday

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