Feeling Good

See Feeling Good

February 25. Continuing on positive emotions, this subreddit post disagrees with my statement that nobody would consciously avoid feeling good. Clearly this subject is less straightforward than I thought, because it’s hard to separate “feeling good” from the stuff that you feel good about, from social displays of feeling good, and from the whole internal ecology of how you feel.

When I think about my personal perspective, it’s mainly about motivation: feeling good about doing things. That’s why, despite high grades and test scores, I didn’t get into an elite college, and never passed an interview for a salaried job, because everyone could tell I wasn’t really into it. I failed at homesteading because tasks that I valued in an abstract way turned out to feel like chores. I’m constantly trying to 1) find stuff that I feel like doing, or 2) hack my own perspective so that I feel like doing stuff, or if both of those fail, 3) force myself to do stuff, which is exhausting. So that’s the context from which I don’t understand why someone would avoid feeling good if they have the option.

And Noah comments:

Happiness is not a meaningful state without something to compare it to. If there was no suffering, we would have no word to describe happiness, it would simply be the natural state of things. It would be invisible to us I imagine, like the background space of our awareness.

That sounds wonderful! And it reminds me of the Christian idea, that the fall of man happened through knowledge of good and evil. This never occurred to me, but maybe the principle that you can’t have something without also having its opposite, is only true on a cognitive level.