Is That All There Is, Or Are We Missing Something? or…The Escape From The “Flatland”

Feb 16, 11 Is That All There Is, Or Are We Missing Something? or…The Escape From The “Flatland”

Posted by in Books, Thoughts/Ideas

“Flatland” is a book written in 1884 by the English novelist and mathematician Edwin Abbot. The book tells the story of a two-dimensional world inhabited by geometric figures – squares, triangles, circles and all sorts of others. All was well until one day a sphere visited Flatland and amazed all its inhabitants with the “tricks” it could do. Since Flatland residents could only perceive two dimensions, the sphere seemed a circle that grew or shrinked at will (actually it was rising and sinking into the plane of Flatland) – that was very confusing for Flatlanders. The sphere tried to explain the concept of the third dimension to a curious square, who, despite his great knowledge of two-dimensional geometry, simply didn’t get it. The whole idea of going up-down / left-right was totally ridiculous to the smart square, for whom left-right/front-back were the only options. When the sphere exhausted all means of explaining, it simply took the confused square “up” into its own world – Spaceland. From there he could see Flatland from above and was frightened to death. The square recalled: “An unspeakable terror seized me. There was darkness; then a dizzy, sickening sensation of sight that was not like seeing; I saw space that was not space: I was myself, and not myself. When I could find voice, I shrieked aloud in agony: “Either this is madness or it is Hell”. “It is neither”, calmly replied the voice of the sphere, “it is Knowledge; it is Three dimensions; open your eye once again and try to look steadiliy” I looked and, behold, a new world!” The square is awestruck. He bows before the sphere and becomes its disciple. When he returns to Flatland, he struggles to preach the “Gospel of Three Dimensions” to his fellow two-dimensional friends – but in vain. They were all as blind as he had been before the Sphere had taken him to Spaceland, and all others thought him crazy. This is a stroy Jonathand Haidt recounts in his book, “The Happiness...

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What’s the Connection between a Rider, an Elephant, New Year’s Resolutions and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part 2

Jan 06, 11 What’s the Connection between a Rider, an Elephant, New Year’s Resolutions and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part 2

Posted by in Books

I ended my last post promising I’ll write more about the role of the Elephant and the Rider in achieving happiness and here it is. Jonathan Haidt puts forth a very interesting hypothesis about what happiness is: H=S+C+V. That’s right! But don’t be scared if it doesn’t make much sense just yet – it’ll all get clearer in a minute. To explain this formula we need to invite another scientific actor on stage – enter Martin Seligman, the father of “positive psychology”, one of the newest and, to my mind, greatest branches of psychology, the one part of psychology which doesn’t deal with pathology and doesn’t analyze the many ways in which we are, if I may say so, screwed up. Instead, positive psychology is concerned with the many ways in which we are wonderful beings, full of potential and it’s main objective is to research how people can achieve that great potential that they all have inside. In case you’re wondering what that has to do with happiness, the fact is that happiness lies at the core of the research in positive psychology. The formula I was mentioning before stems from positive psychology and can be translated as: Happiness (H)= Biological Set Point (S)+ Conditions of your life (C)+ Voluntary activities (V) Let’s take these three parts of the equation and explain them in short: Biological Set Point (S) – there is significant research (much of it done on identical twins raised apart) indicating that we are all born with a genetic predisposition to a set range of happiness. In other words, if happiness is a thermostat with a range from 0 to 100, some people can only take theirs from 0 to 20, others have a set range of between 20-60 and some lucky ones between 60-100.  Now if you are naturally a happy person, you might say that you’ve won the happiness lottery – you’ll find it much easier to be happy. For those of you whose thermostat is in the...

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