Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Pursuit of Happiness Part 2

To society,

Continuing from my previous letter on the pursuit of happiness, I would like to present a model that I think accounts for most actions we perform.


The cycle of the pursuit of happiness starts with us recognizing an imperfection. This prompts us to make a decision about an action to take. Our goal is to reach a state where we are satisfied or content with the results. Our motivation here is essential as it reveals why we might act or not act. An example for why to act is to stop a suffering. This is common when you want to solve a problem. An example for not acting is that you might suffer more for acting than not. In this case, you've decided you are satisfied with tolerating the problem than create a worse one for yourself.

After we make a decision based off our reasons, we take our decided course of action and evaluate the results. If we are satisfied with the results, we are content and move on. If not satisfied, then we pick another course of action until we are content.

When we are content, we have a taste of happiness. This is because one of the effects of happiness is that you don't want anything because you are fulfilled. We want to be in this state because to want something indicates we are not fulfilled. An old definition of the word want is to lack. You can see how it reached it's current definition of to desire something. When you lack something, you feel a sort of pain. Therefore you feel like you need it in order to be complete. As a result of this need, you desire it.

Our life is primarily spent in this cycle. This is because man has many needs and the capacity to want is infinite. However, once all our needs are fulfilled, then we finally exit the cycle and reach the state of happiness. In my next letter on the subject, I intend to examine what those needs are and how they relate to each other. Until then, I hope you find that this model actually helps you understand more about how your psychology works so that you may better find the true path to happiness.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

Q&A

Now I'm sure you have some questions. In this section, I shall try to anticipate then and provide what I believe to be the answers

What are our reasons for acting and not acting?

I cannot give a complete list because the completeness is dependent upon how deep you want to go, but I can say what I have identified, though there will be some overlap.
For not acting, there is
  1. Fear of greater suffering
  2. Incapability
  3. Not seeing benefits
  4. Action is contrary to goal
  5. Lower priority
  6. Not Understanding
  7. Moral opposition/hatred
  8. Not fun
  9. Change
For acting, most if not everything can be said to fall under some sort of suffering. Here we have
  1. Fear of suffering
  2. ‎Desire for completion
  3. ‎Possibility for improvement
  4. Fun

What accounts for our other actions?

In all cases, I believe happiness is the cause of actions. For the pursuit of happiness cycle, it's the goal. However, once we obtain happiness, it's the fuel for our actions. Consider when a woman finds a man she falls heads over heels in love. Does she not try to help her single friends find love as well? I remember that I was so happy by finding a job that I asked all of my friends that were searching if they tried the same website I used.

If I don't want anything, does this mean I won't do anything anymore?

As mentioned in the previous answer, happiness actually makes us perform actions. This is because man's nature and perfection is to love.

Also need to be careful about the word "want." When I said that "when you are happy, you don't want anything," I was referring to the old definition described following that statement. So in today's terms, it is probably best to say, "When you are happy, you do not need anything in order to be happy." This does not exclude desiring to help people. When you are happy because of goodness and love, you will act because it's your nature to act out of love.

Consider the example from before. Whether or not my friends actually used the website I used to find a job doesn't affect my happiness. I acted out of love for them, but their response has no effect on me.

Some people say that God wants us. Does that mean he's not perfectly happy?
I included this question because I'm certain some people are going to ponder theology based off this model. Some people might reject this model because they feel like it threatens their theology. Other might try to embrace it by saying that it proves theology is wrong. That might be true, but you can't really debate on this because there are a few things to consider.
  1. What is the nature of God?
    1. This relies on theological premises. If you can't agree on the premises, then you can't really argue and therefore it doesn't really concern this model.
  2. Perfection for Man is not necessarily the same as Perfection for God
    1. while I argue what the perfection of Man is, I cannot say the same about God unless God tells me.
  3. What do we mean by the word perfection?
    1. Could it be that the original meaning of perfection is akin to how a lover thinks his beloved is perfect because he desires and admires her so much? Or is it that God is truly perfect in that he is complete?
  4. Which definition of "want" should we be using?
    1. If we are using want as in "he needs us in order to be happy," then God isn't perfect in that sense. However, if it's simply "he desires us as something nice to have," then that's a different story. For example, there are many games that I "want" to play, but I don't need to play them in order to be happy. In this case, they are simply nice to have.
      Logically speaking, if you accept the premises that God is Love and that being with God is essential to us being happy, then of course he would desire us to be with him.
What relation do external sources have with our happiness?

While the model I presented doesn't show it, because it's a model for the actions we take, external sources play a large role in the cycle. They can make use dissatisfied, change our reasons for acting,  and even give us happiness.

An unfortunately common marketing tactic is to create a need where there is not one. The makers of Listerine coined the phrase halitosis in order to sell their product. On the more positive side, external sources also point our our imperfections so that we can indeed improve.

For the second point, by debating with us, an external source might make us decide to act or refrain. They may even do what was needed and therefore you don't need to do a thing. As a result, you can also say external sources can make us content.

On the last point, there is room for a little debate. While we can say that external sources can make us feel happy, can they actually make us enter the state of happiness? I argue yes.

Man is a social animal and needs some external help when it comes to obtaining his perfection. One thing we desperately need is true love. When our love tanks are full, we are filled with joy and become the best versions of ourselves. We need love not only because it's our precious fuel for being good, but also because it is our perfection.

One philosophical argument about the nature of God stems from the argument that God is the source of all that is good. Everything that man needs to reach perfection is a good. Therefore God can fulfill Man's needs. Now this doesn't prove that God exists. It is simply logic to show why people can believe that God is essential for happiness. Personally, I like the notion that God as a source of infinite love makes it so that man's love tank is always filled. It's a nice idea but is not proof of any sort.

Why do we brood?

Brooding is an action that doesn't bring us to happiness but instead makes us miserable. Yet we choose to brood. This was actually a reason why I held off on presenting my model for a long time. However, I have two ideas about this and the result is that brooding actually follows the model in a corrupted way.

First is that brooding is an action we instinctively believe that brooding will get us toward happiness. Babies cry until they get what they want. When they become children, they still try this tactic with some success. Even adults use this to some success where they "play the victim." Brooding is the act wallowing in the belief that we are the victim. We use this to help us feel justified when we take another action that otherwise would be condemned.

The second idea stems from the claim that brooding is a selfish action. While it does not bring our good nature towards completion, it does grow our ego. That ego always wants to grow. Therefore, while it may not truly bring us towards happiness, our ego believes that it will bring it to completion. However, this is not reality. Instead, it makes us even more miserable and we in turn act to create misery for others. Brooding is a fuel for bullying.

__________________________________

I hope these answers help give answer your questions either directly or indirectly. I contemplated having them in a separate post as this got really long, but I figure it was best to keep it together with the main piece. While some questions can certainly be their own piece, I felt it best to address them now rather than later. Perhaps I will share them again individually so that I may expand upon them.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Timing of Feedback

To Critics,

Feedback is an important part of our society. It's when we convey what was good, what was bad, and what can be improved. However, if you truly wish for your feedback to be positively effective, timing is off the utmost importance. Specifically when the recipient is ready to receive it.

Perhaps the best example to illustrate this is taking care of a child. Everyone has different opinions about how to raise children. This is a combination of exposure to ideas, experience spent with children, and your own personality. The stereotypical story is the working father doing something and the housewife instructs what he should be doing. This does not work. People do not want to be doing what they think is best only to be told that they are wrong, especially while they are in the midst of struggling. Instead, they would more likely be willing to receive help and, after things calm down, discuss what would have been the best method.

I think when people are having trouble, they don't want advice unless asked for. Instead, they want to see signs that they are cared about and appreciated. When they think they did the right thing also isn't a good time to critique. Instead they need to doubt first that they were right. However, you probably don't want to knock them of their horse right away either. If it can wait, let them enjoy their pride for a moment or they might start to think every conversation with you will be to criticize what you have done.

When people know they did something wrong, this is a bit more tricky. Some want consolation while others want to know how to improve and others want to try and fix things. Also keep in mind that some may want a break. It could be to reflect on their own or maybe they are tired of thinking about the subject. After all, constantly thinking about something you cannot do anything about is a big cause of stress. Therefore it is important to consider many variables such as time, gravity, appearance, and personality before giving feedback.

Another reason to ponder timing is that you might not be ready to give feedback either. If you are angry, you'll likely be unable to avoid personally attacking in your critique. If you are upset, you likely won't be clearly logical in your argument. Even if you are logical in your head, you'll likely neglect to mention certain key points, making it difficult for anyone to follow your line of reasoning. In addition, they might be distracted by the emotion in your voice leading them to think more like, "How can I get him to calm down?"

Feedback is an important thing as it allows us to praise someone for their work or advise on how to improve it. However, in all cases, we should be patient and consider when is the best time to give it.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Pursuit of Happiness part 1

To Society,

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are three fundamental rights listed in the United States' declaration of Independence. When the founding fathers wrote this document, they swapped the right to property with the pursuit of happiness. While this does not mean they did not believe in the right to have property, it does mean they brought attention to the basis for all other human rights and the driving force of humanity.

Happiness is the ultimate goal. There is no reason to be happy except to be happy. The characteristics of this ultimate state is that it's perfectly fulfilling, cannot be lost, and blissful. Since happiness is the perfect state, we can say it is the pursuit of absolute perfection. While you are not guaranteed to obtain happiness, it is indeed the fundamental right.

Consider what the purpose of liberty is. There is no other benefit for freedom except to realize your full potential. That is why it is so precious and yet sometimes must be sacrificed. When you realize this purpose, you understand that when you can only improve by sacrificing some freedom that it is actually the best choice. Babies have no bias towards a language, but if they wish to grow and mature, they must take up a language and follow its rules. This logic can also be applied to security and privacy.

It can be said that life is the state of constant change. While some things appear to persist, everything that is living is constantly changing in one way or another. Death, on the other hand, is the setting of a person's final state. There is nothing more that person can do to change himself. Therefore, if someone wishes to progress towards perfection, he must live.

Now one thing I must address is that even though we have the right to pursue happiness, not all of our actions are justified. If you seek justification, then you must consult the key to morality, which is true love. If you do, then I would think you have a great chance at obtaining happiness.

With Love,
N. D. Moharo

P.S. Next time I address the pursuit of happiness, I intend to present a model explaining the cycles of the pursuit of happiness and how various situations fit in it. However, I need more time to polish it so that it is easy to understand. Please be patient as I work to polish what perhaps accounts for all of our choices.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Prep for Pursuit of Happiness

Over the past month, I've started three pieces. One was simple musing exercise. The second needs more thought. The third is the one that I know what I'm trying to convey, but debating on how to say it. In order to prepare for this third piece, it'll be helpful to establish a line of thinking.


Why do _____?

Because it's progress toward perfection

Why do you want perfection?

Because it will fulfill me.

Why do you want to be fulfilled?

Because then I'll be happy!

Why do you want to be happy?

Because then I'll be happy!

These three responses might sound essentially the same, but you can see happiness is the ultimate end goal. You cannot say anything beyond that as your goal in life. Therefore it makes perfect sense that we have a right of the pursuit of happiness.

Look forward to the next coming piece as I examine this pursuit and it's effect on our lives.

With Love,
N.D. Moharo

update: changed the order of logic to be perfection leads to fulfillment. The is actually a critical understanding

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Three Purposes of Anger

To the enraged,

In today's society, showing displays of anger is frowned upon. However, there are times when it is appropriate and effective to be angry, but you need to control it rather than let it control you. In order to get it under control, it is helpful to know what the three purposes of it are and how do deal with them.

The first purpose is to show what is important to you. This can be tricky because you might not realize what is important until you get angry and even then you still have to play detective. For example, my wife told me we got a mosquito in the house and I got very upset. It was not so much that the mosquito was in the house that upset me but rather the fear of having to wake up on the middle of the night to find it after it bit me awake. If the mosquito was killed beforehand, then I wouldn't mind.

In order to control this and make our anger more effective is to identify what is most important and explain it. For example, when my child cries with no way of calming him down, I would get angry for second, but then identify that he is more important. This love for him helps make it so that I'm in control. Limiting the number of things that you consider important will also make your few occasions more effective. Otherwise everyone will think there is no satisfying you and they will begin to ignore you.

The second purpose is to demand a change. I believe the ultimate goal of giving negative feedback is to encourage some sort of change. A good customer service sees what upsets it's customers and tries to avoid that in the future. However, since there are so many improvements to make, seeing the obvious signs of anger can help promote which improvements are done faster.

The help for dealing with this is to develop a sense of acceptance. While things can be improved, there is nothing that can be done about the past. We might do things to help recompense, but we should avoid aiming for compensation as that encourages selfishness. If we accept that the offending parties did not mean to offend us and that they tried their best to help us, then we can suggest improvements in a calmer manner which can lead to a productive conversation.

Another help here is humility. The smaller we see ourselves, the less offended we feel. We can still suggest improvements, especially if it will help others, but at least then we can show we are not acting out of selfishness.

The third purpose is to simply to be an outlet of emotion. We are emotional people and sometimes we need to vent our frustration in order to feel better. This is a tricky thing to control as the more you vent, the less effective it becomes, both for you and those around you. This is why the intensity of expletives grow the more you use them. However, someone that never uses expletives can be even more effective than those who do. This is because expletives give a shock and offensive structure, making the recipient upset and angry with you, but those who are angry in a controlled manner might be empathized with.

Even though this last purpose is the first one seen, it is based upon the other two. If we can handle the other purposes, then this one becomes weaker. I cannot say that it will be eliminated because this is the reaction caused by your brain's emotional center, which happens before you can be rational. If you have the rush of adrenaline, it might be 20 minutes before you can be rational again.

While people claim various methods for dealing with this such as stress balls or hitting something, you probably notice that these lose their effectiveness after a while. When we act on our emotions, it becomes harder to control them. This is especially dangerous when your output is to hit something as that will likely turn to hitting someone. Again, your emotional center acts before your rational. You cannot guarantee you won't do something unless you place a hard limit on everything that would build up to it. One thing I would suggest instead is meditation though it certainly is difficult at first. Therefore, you need to practice meditation before you get angry so that you won't become even more frustrated.

One thing I can suggest in the meantime until you can practice meditation is to convert your frustration into sadness. This will at least prevent you from harming anyone. This is not perfect as it can lead to depression if you are not careful and therefore I suggest meditation and everything else I've mentioned. Once you obtain that state, you will find that your anger is more controlled and far more effective.

In summary, if you want to control your anger, you have to identify the three purposes; conveying importance, demanding change, and output of frustration. The keys to dealing with this are the same for being patient; love, humility, and acceptance. Now that you know this, I hope you can better use your anger for progress and not for destruction.

With love,
N. D. Moharo

Friday, July 21, 2017

Concerning the Universal Basic Income (and Change in scheduling)

Hi All,
    I'm sorry this is starting to be a habit, but perhaps I should make it official. Instead of trying to get one post every two weeks, I'm going to do one every three or possibly four weeks. If I can make the bi-weekly schedule then I'll do that, but family duties, work, and so on make that difficult even when I have a topic. For instance, last week I intended to share more thoughts about economy, but I couldn't get my thoughts organized in a presentable manner. I have a few points, but the flow was not there yet so I cannot share it. However, here is a piece I wrote today on a related topic utilizing some of those points. I hope you find this enlightening.

N.D. Moharo


Concerning the Universal Basic Income

Dear Society.
I read a Vox article recently encouraging the Universal Basic Income (UBI) where everyone receives a basic sum of money to help with their lives. I found it interesting as I had not given much though to the topic, but I also thought it was ignoring a few realities. The article's focus was on two arguments against the UBI: Work Critique and Cost Critique. Here is how they described the two in the article:
  1. (Work critique) Giving people cash will cause them to work less, hurt the economy, and deprive them of the meaning that work provides in life.
  2. (Cost critique) Providing an income floor set at a reasonable level for everyone is unaffordable.
For the work critique, it claimed that it wouldn't really make people work less. Depending on the amount of money given, I would agree. Even if it did reduce the "labor force", it would potentially be for the better. For example, if you give enough to help make it so someone doesn't have to work 4 part time jobs in order to survive, but instead only need 2 jobs, that gift of time can provide the golden opportunity to find a better job. At the same time, since 1 person isn't taking 4 jobs anymore, that opens up jobs for more people, actually increasing the labor force by allowing more people to work. These are the people that would be helped, at least temporarily.

For the Cost Critique, it shared a point that that giving 300 million people $10,000 a year would cost the country $3 trillion a year. For some reason, the article believes we can afford that and believe that it will wipe out poverty entirely. That is incredibly idealistic but also unreasonable because it doesn't actually address why poverty exists in the first place and how people would respond. For the few cases where it would seemingly help at first, it would be a complete waste and very destructive for everyone else.

What happens when you give a homeless man $100K? People actually tried this and you can get the short form from Today I Found Out. The very short form is that the guy ended up back on the streets despite the benefactors being generous, providing means of turning his life around, and family trying to help him get a job but he refused all of their efforts. The points made are that there are people who do not want to work or people with poor money skills and therefore they would be in poverty despite how much money you give them.
Also consider how to keep track of who gets the money and if they actually did. People die every year, but a family might not report it to the government so they can get a few extra $10K a year. And what about the illegal immigrants? Will they get money too? If they do, then we'll get more illegal immigrants and they'll try to get the money too. If they don't, well then there will still be some people on the streets and poverty has not been eliminated. 

Then there is the often forgotten consequence of everyone having more money; inflation. That's what happens every time there is a surge in wealth for a country. Gold loses it's value when there is so much of it. The only reason why diamonds are still "expensive" is because they are artificially limiting supply. Have you ever wondered why making a product overseas and then shipping it to the US and paying the tariffs is cheaper than making the product domestically? Why does such a low amount of money make it so a person can have an education for a week/month when it costs more than that just for a sandwich down the street?  I've heard stories about how foreigners are told not to shop when visiting family in third world countries because the prices skyrocket when they do so, but even those prices foreigners will find as a "good deal."

The market tends to regulate itself, but when money suddenly appears, greed acts even harder to get it all. If people suddenly have more money, then they think they can afford higher prices and end up doing so. Since there is no regulation on prices, as evidenced by how high the markups can get especially for medicine, and that's one reason why the U.S. is not ready for universal healthcare. Even college education has similarly increased dramatically with data from collegeboard.org showing that college costs 3X as much in 2016 than it did in 1976 even after adjusting for inflation. Also, more money you have, the more taxes you have to pay. The result is that the initial $10K will work for an instant, but then there will be greater debt and it'll take years for the economy to stabilize even to the point we are at today and be probably worse off.

How will you fund such an expensive program?  Increasing taxes as suggested by the Vox author is not an answer because that lowers the value of the money given. And if you exempt the amount given, then you don't collect as much in taxes to pay for it. Sure, it could possibly substitute for medicare and other social security programs, but those people would likely end up getting less money than before when it's already not enough. As a result, we would be harming more people than helping. Accumulating debt would not work either as that also causes inflation and there is no guarantee that future generations can pay it off. Considering that more families have both spouses working in order to provide for less people than a just father did a few decades ago and I think we can agree we are not wealthier than before.

Lastly, what affect would such a stipend have on our paychecks? Would employers claim they no longer need to give us raises or bonuses? Would they instead try to make paycuts using the stipend as an excuse? This is a dangerous possibility that needs to be considered and regulated before a UBI is put into place.

While I partially agreed about the vox article's opinion on the work critique argument, the cost and realities around the Universal Basic Income show that we have more to lose and very few have anything to gain. Instead of trying to figure out how to give everyone more money, we should instead examine what are the causes of poverty and try to control that. If we do, then we can finally make true progress.

With love,
N. D. Moharo

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Minimum Wage Conundrum

To Society,

Apparently Seattle is starting to feel the effects of the minimum wage increase and it is not optimistic. While some companies beforehand actually paid well more than the minimum wage, forcing all companies to do so have many problems, resulting in no way everyone could win and the one to lose the most was the minimum wage worker.

When you increase the wages of a large workforce, where does the extra money come from? There are three options.
1) from the company 
2) from the consumer
3) from the worker


When trying to run a business, you need to try to make a profit. With the minimum wage increase, a business model I had became no longer viable because not enough money would come in to support both the costs of operation and the workforce.  In today's economy, startups have enough trouble as it is. Increasing the cost when profit is not yet guaranteed makes it even harder to start a business. As a result, less jobs are created. 

Now I will admit that if a company is performing very well, then the employees should reap some of the benefits, but by forcing to raise the minimum wage for even struggling companies, there is more to be lost than gained.

As for the consumer paying for the increase in wages, the common method is to raise prices. This does not help anyone, especially in the long run. One, when prices go up, consumers will turn to other products or companies. I did this especially when it came to Subway long before I stopped going there altogether. I would often go regularly and order the $5 footlong because that's what Subway's marketing convinced me the sandwich was worth. So when the prices went up, I no longer went there. Similarly, when I visited Japan and found the 6-inch subs to be more than $5, I refused to order anything. Companies know they can lose customers by raising prices and in a competitive industry, raising prices is not an easy option.

Also consider that if the prices for basic items go up in order to handle the increased wages, that means the increased wages don't mean so much anymore and those who previously made a decent wage no longer do. No one wins here.

Lastly, the money can come from the workforce and we've seen this happen before not too long ago. Employees get laid off, benefits are removed, or hours are cut. The result is that everyone suffers due to overworking, having to pay for benefits, or not working enough to make any money. Unfortunately, when it comes to running a business, this is the easiest option to pull off because it can have the least negative impact.

Are there other problems caused by the increase in minimum wages? Yes. The increase in prices means businesses have less customers, reducing the need for workers or closing the business altogether. Less jobs for unskilled workers makes it difficult to gain work experience. More competition for jobs makes it harder to save money for college. The increase in wages mean that even if you made more, then you have to pay more in taxes. Also, with higher prices, then we get inflation, meaning everyone is effectively making less money.

So what can we do? Not raise the minimum wages so dramatically but instead look at the real economic problems. Since raising the minimum wage actually creates more problems without solving any, we need to shift our attention. However, I do not have time today to address them for you, but I do intend to write again on the subject. Until then,

With love,
N. D. Moharo