2015-12-31

How to have a better life

If you could take a drug that gives you 100 years of constant pleasures in your bad, with no side effects, while someone would feed you by a tube, would you take it?

If you think a bit about this question, the answer has an interesting consequence: there must be more in life than physical pleasures.


Let's add the possibility to virtually travel around the world, to see beautiful landscapes, to swim virtually into clean, refreshing waters, to climb daring mountains, to read all the books in the world. How does it sound?

Maybe you would miss people. Let's raise the bet with virtual people that could emulate the behavior of your family and friends along with citizens of the places where you are virtually traveling. How does it feel? Let's suppose it's possible, just for the sake of this mental experiment...

You will be able to virtually run and jump, feel each muscle and hit, feel the air brushing your face. You can virtually taste and smell great food. You can even enjoy physical pleasures with virtual mates.

Why is it not enough? Why does it matter that "it is not real"? The subjective experience would be the same...

What's more?

The missing link here, I believe, is the connection with the rest of the Life you feel that you belong. Living in this virtual reality, even if you can virtually have kids, is not a part of the Life that you are part of.

The natural conclusion is that most of the people feel part of the bigger Life, and feel the need to have a life that is fulfilling in this "bigger then ourselves" system. Otherwise, there would be no issue to have all these pleasant experiences in a virtual environment.

Of course, if you were put in such a virtual environment without your knowledge, you wouldn't be able to notice it and you would not complain about it. What I want to highlight here is that the very idea to be put there is not appealing, considering that you are living in the "real" world. If you would already live in a virtual reality or dream, what you do would not matter anyway.

I guess there are some peoples having a bitter life that they would prefer such surrogate of good life. However, I would speculate that even they would want more as soon as they get rid of the original sorrows.
There must be something in us that make us wanting to be part of something bigger than ourselves. This is the only reasonable explanation that I can find to the way we relate to the above imagined scenario.

* * *

I deliberately avoided to use "happy life" and used "better life" because not all the people are in search of happiness. Especially introverts are many times in search for meaning more than welfare, prosperity or pleasant experiences. It's always nice to have these, but these are not always the means for a fulfilled life. However, for most of us, happiness is also an important ingredient of a desirable life for ourselves. At least, one should have just enough happiness to not interfere with following his meaning.

If we are talking about a fulfilling life, this cannot be conceived without taking into account the impact of our existence into others. I would say that our existence extends into others and will continue into other even when our physical being will cease to exist.

See also: Two ways to pursue happiness

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