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Author Topic:   We must believe in what we're made for
Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 1 of 19 (844777)
12-05-2018 9:49 AM

I've touched on this topic here and there already.
But I recently came across some research that seems to support the idea.

The idea:

In order to be happy, people need to figure out what they "should" believe in... how they "should" think... and support that method in their lifestyle.

-Initial caveat: The following should all happen as long as you are "not hurting anyone else."
-Step 1: Find out (through self-reflection) if you want to believe in God or any other deity or none at all.
-Step 2: Embrace what "feels right" to you, along with whatever-level-of-skepticism you think is appropriate.
-Step 3: Continue to re-evaluate your position and adjust (if necessary) whenever/if-ever you feel you should.

-Some people are very religious, and they need to be very religious in order to be happy - these people should be very religious.
-Some people are very atheistic, and they need to be very atheistic in order to be happy - these people should be very atheistic.

We should be embracing our differences in beliefs and allow others to do so accordingly (as long as we're talking about "beliefs.") Along the lines of people speaking different languages or engaging in different traditions/cultures. We need to do what makes us happy in order to be happy, and allow others to do their things to make themselves happy.

Here's the article:
The Mental Health of Atheists and the 'Nones'

The article identifies that the "religious" and the "nones" are very broad groups.
One can be very religious, or not so much.
One can be agnostic, atheist, non-religiously spiritual...

Most previous studies have been "religious" vs. "nones" and indicate that the religious are generally happier.
However, recent studies are acknowledging these broad groups and getting into the sub-groups.

These studies suggest that "dedicated atheists" are equally happy as "dedicated religious" believers.
This indicates that it may be the strength of one's believe that is the secret to happiness - not necessarily the content of that belief.

The article writes:

These results tantalizingly suggest that ‘certainty of belief,’ rather than the content of the belief itself, may be a key determinant of positive mental health in the groups studied. Contrariwise, uncertainty or inconsistency of belief, as sometimes witnessed in agnostics, the non-affiliated and the ‘spiritual but not religious’ may be a risk factor for poor mental health.

And how do you have a "strong" belief? You follow the process I mentioned above.
Basically - figure out how you "feel" you should be believing - and go with that. This way you avoid things like 'awkward feelings of *something* being wrong, but not sure what' as much as possible. If you're getting such awkward feelings - do not shy away from them 'for the sake of the belief' because that will lead to being frustrated and negatively affect your mental health. You should be acknowledging such feelings - investigate them and identify if you should be altering your beliefs towards something more aligned with what your basic thoughts/feelings lean towards. This is the path to happiness. The same process for everyone (leading to 'certainty of belief') - but different paths (different 'contents' of those beliefs.)

When you align your lifestyle with the way you think/feel you should be living - it results in a stronger belief that you're "on the right path" and leads to happiness.

For Faith and Belief - or anywhere else if you think it's better suited

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 12-13-2018 4:02 PM Stile has responded
 Message 4 by AZPaul3, posted 12-13-2018 5:08 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 5 of 19 (845551)
12-17-2018 10:27 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Phat
12-13-2018 4:02 PM

Re: The Essence Of Stile
Phat writes:

So are you essentially saying that We each individually *should* be comfortable with our beliefs?

Not essentially, no.
But yes, it is a side-effect.

I'm not saying that we should be aiming to be comfortable with our beliefs.
I'm saying that we should examine our beliefs - and make sure we actually do believe them and aren't just "saying we believe in them" for the sake of others around us in our lives.

Once we examine our beliefs on an independent level - and ensure we are believing in beliefs we actually, personally, truly believe in...
-Then, yes, we will be comfortable with our beliefs (and we'll be happier as people.)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 12-13-2018 4:02 PM Phat has not yet responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 6 of 19 (845557)
12-17-2018 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by AZPaul3
12-13-2018 5:08 PM

AZPaul3 writes:

Another philosophical excuse to believe fairytales. Because they “make you happy."

I think that being happy is an excellent reason to believe in fairytales.

It's certainly better than believing in fairytales in order to force other people to do anything they wouldn't normally do.

What's wrong with being happy?
Are you happy?

If so - don't you wish other people could be happy too?
If not - perhaps this is something to give a little more of a chance towards.

Unless a “belief” is backed by the reality of the universe we can see and reasonably extrapolate then it is not worth holding whether it makes you happy or not.

Is that so?
Can you support such a strange statement with any facts?

I think being happy is a rather decent and important goal for any life.
And, as long as it's not hurting others, why not let someone else believe in something that isn't backed by the reality of the universe in order to be happy?

Remember my first caveat - "as long as they're not hurting anyone."

If someone wanted to believe in something, and wanted to ensure others believed in the same thing, and prevent (say) scientific advancement in order to "make room for their belief" (or other such bullshit)... then this is certainly "hurting someone." Not only should it not be allowed, it should be fought against.

But... "as long as they're not hurting anyone..." why not let them be happy?

Living a lie, knowing it’s a lie, is quite foolish in its own right but to say it’s ok because it makes one happy is treason to the human intellect.

I don't think "lie" is a useful term in talking about all beliefs.
Some beliefs can be more like feelings - things that occur to us independently rather than something we develop on our own.
Like a belief that someone is going to be okay on their flight and business trip and return to the family unhurt.

We know it's not true. Planes have accidents. Things happen to people in public. Travelling incurs it's own possibilities for danger.
But some can believe such a thing will turn out okay.

It can be foolish to believe in such a thing - if you start convincing the traveler to forego safety checks because you have faith in your belief.
It can be comforting to believe in such a thing - if you can sleep better at night believing it's going to turn out okay and your family will return to you safely.

What if someone needs the comforting part?
What if they do all they can to promote safety and a good trip, but still need some comforting for the parts they know they can "do nothing" about?
What's wrong, in this situation, if such a person believes that their traveler will return safely to them so that they can sleep well at night instead of staying up all hours worrying?

That doesn't seem to be so much "treason to the human intellect."
It seems to be more "acknowledging that some people have certain feelings/worries and that certain beliefs can quell such fears."

But then I'm happy with my own beliefs so it's ok.

Not everyone is so lucky or prepared with their mental health.

Edited by Stile, : Re-wrote If so/If not in first section - earlier version was confusing and wrong.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by AZPaul3, posted 12-13-2018 5:08 PM AZPaul3 has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by GDR, posted 12-17-2018 5:04 PM Stile has responded
 Message 11 by AZPaul3, posted 12-18-2018 5:30 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 8 of 19 (845668)
12-18-2018 3:59 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by GDR
12-17-2018 5:04 PM

GDR writes:

I have always preferred to use the word contented as opposed to Happy. Happiness can be fleeting but, although there will always be times when we aren't contented we can in a general sense be contented, or discontented for that matter.

I see your point. And it makes sense.
But I like the word happy, because I like to be childish sometimes, and I think this is good context for that

Also, I hope that life is more than about not hurting anyone.

I do too.

My point would be that this is something you and I happen to agree upon, and nothing more.
That is, if someone had a different plan/goal/message that did not go beyond "not hurting anyone" I would respect the position they hold. After all, who am I to say how they should live their life? I'm no God, I'm just a person, like them. If they're not hurting anyone - I don't see what right I have to instruct them towards what I think "anything more" should be. No matter how much I would like them to do things my way.

One good thing from my view in allowing others to figure themselves out - I also have a great foundation to demand my own right to figure my own idea of what "something more" should be (love and helping others) without being a hypocrite. In general terms, it's not right for someone to demand they're able to do things the way they want, and also suggest that others should be doing things their way as well. If their way is "so good" others will see it and come around anyway.

I suggest that our own contentment should come from helping to facilitate and increase the contentment in the life of others. My observation is that if life is all about not hurting others, then I suggest it is unlikely that we will find contentment ourselves.

I think wording here is very important.
I'm not sure exactly how you intended it to be read, but here's my clarification on taking it two different ways:

1. To suggest that others should do something to enhance their lives just because it works for us misses the point that different people can have different desires and/or goals.
-This is arrogant and (in my view) wrong

2. To suggest that others could attempt doing something to enhance their lives because it works for us if they are looking to us for advice seems fine.
-The idea is that they are looking for what works for them. Maybe it's the same thing that works for us. Maybe not. It is important (in my view) that it is up to them, though.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by GDR, posted 12-17-2018 5:04 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by GDR, posted 12-18-2018 4:32 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 10 of 19 (845671)
12-18-2018 4:53 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by GDR
12-18-2018 4:32 PM

GDR writes:

Living a life based on doing no harm to others will cause us to wind up with a life that is self indulgent.

Quite possible, yes.

Are you saying it's impossible for a person to exist that is happier being self indulgent than helping others?

I've met many selfish people. Some very selfish, some just a bit.
I agree that I think many of them would likely be happier if they stopped being selfish and spent time helping others.
But how would I possibly know?

Isn't it possible that a single one of these people actually is happier being selfish instead of helping others?

If so - then I think they should be selfish.

And, again, that's why I think they should all undergo self-reflection to see what's good or not good for themselves.
If they think "hey, I get stuff being selfish... but there's this little twinge of guilt and this feeling of isolating myself from others..."
Then my method proposes that they change their belief about being selfish and focus on something else - perhaps helping others more where we know guilt doesn't exist and other people like you more.

Of course, if they do the self-reflection and see no issues with their selfishness at all - if being self-indulgent really does make them happy and content.
Maybe they are happiest doing what they're doing.

I contend that it is better to lead a life based on the golden rule.

I agree.
But the idea here is a bit more subtle.

The idea isn't about what anyone thinks is "better" it's about what is helpful for each individual to be happy.
And what works for you and I may not actually work for everyone.

Maybe it does - but the way to find out is for everyone to go through self-reflection and find out on their own. Not for GDR or Stile or anyone else to say "hey, you should do things this way!"

That I contend is much more likely to lead to a life of contentment or happiness. Statistics that I have seen actually support this view.

I agree.

But, of course, individual people are not statistics. And statistics are never 100% anything.
So how are individuals supposed to learn if they are part of "the majority" or one of the out-liers?

Again... through self-reflection and identification of their own, personal feelings/beliefs.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by GDR, posted 12-18-2018 4:32 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by GDR, posted 12-18-2018 10:13 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 13 of 19 (845719)
12-19-2018 9:03 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by AZPaul3
12-18-2018 5:30 PM

AZPaul3 writes:

But, as an adult, such fantasies, unless recognized as nothing more than feel-good fantasies, are dangerous.

And, if they are recognized as feel-good fantasies, they can be very helpful to the individual.

One might think they are happy in their false fantasy world but they cannot remain that way when reality slaps 'em in the head as it will do quite often.

This is exactly my point.

Each individual should undergo self-reflection and monitor their reactions according to their held beliefs.
If they feel "slapped in the head" - this is an indication that they should consider adjusting their beliefs accordingly.
If they do not feel such a thing - if they continue to feel content with their beliefs then they should continue believing such things.

I'm just saying that such things are up to each individual to do honestly on their own.
And I leave open the possibility that someone, somewhere, may be happier believing "feel-good fantasies" than doing things the way I do.

How happy can they really be when everyone is constantly telling them their favorite flood of 10K years ago didn't happen?

I don't know how happy they really can be.
And neither do you (regardless of your feelings on the matter.)

Only they do.
Which is why I propose a method for them to figure it out on their own.

Believing in some fantasy world view just because it makes one feel (momentarily) happy is to leave ones cognitive ability on the stoop while trying to engage the rest of the real world. Humans don't need any more excuses to be stupid. It's time to change that.

I have provided evidence that speaks to the contrary.

The link in the first post shows evidence that the content of the belief (fantasy or not) can be irrelevant to being happy. And a happy person may very well have a better ability to engage the rest of the world than an unhappy person.

I think it's time to understand that different people can have different beliefs. And, as long as they're not hurting anyone else, such beliefs should be respected in the sense that no one should care what others believe for their own personal benefit.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by AZPaul3, posted 12-18-2018 5:30 PM AZPaul3 has acknowledged this reply

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 14 of 19 (845728)
12-19-2018 1:27 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by GDR
12-18-2018 10:13 PM

GDR writes:

I'm not saying that all altruistic people are happier that selfish people but I do believe that selfish people would be more content if they became altruistic.

And, in fact, I agree.

My point is the next step from this.

What to do about it?
How to know?

Should you and I just tell everyone to be a certain way?
I don't think so - this is what causes all the issues we have today (although, it's more others telling you and I how we should be... but the problem is the same no matter what direction it's going in.)

That's why I propose my system:

Honest self-reflection and review.
Making personal adjustments to personal beliefs accordingly.

This way, if you and I are right and altruistic people are actually happier than selfish people - then everyone will become an altruistic person as they follow their honest evaluation.
However, if we're wrong - if some people actually are not happier that way - then we are wrong and those people actually should be selfish in order to be personally-content. Which will also happen naturally for anyone following my method.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by GDR, posted 12-18-2018 10:13 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by GDR, posted 01-17-2019 7:59 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 16 of 19 (847103)
01-18-2019 8:54 AM
Reply to: Message 15 by GDR
01-17-2019 7:59 PM

GDR writes:

We are all selfish to varying degrees but if self love or gratification becomes our primary focus it is something that feeds on itself, and our personal lusts whatever they are can never be satisfied.

Of course, yes... I understand that if we take it to the absurd - that if every decision someone makes must be selfish... then this will lead to trouble. Possibly even self-destruction.

But what if different people have varying levels of selfishness?
What if a certain (small) amount of selfishness is actually good for us?
What if a certain (small) amount of selfishness is actually good for only a few of us - but not for other? - Should those few not be allowed to follow through on that selfishness?


A family grows up taking care of a farm.
Generation after generation cares for this farm, and the food it produces.

One generation decides they hate farming, and they would rather become doctors.

The older generations see this as "selfish" - the farm is a family tradition and needs to continue - to help the town.
The generation that hates farming also sees this as selfish - they want to become doctors and help the town that way, not help the town by providing some of it's food.

Let's assume that this family is one of many farmers - it won't kill the town if this family stops farming.
Let's assume that there are also many doctors - it won't kill the town if this 1 generation doesn't become doctors.

The choice is up to the generation (or maybe the family?)

Should they be 'selfish' and become doctors to make themselves happy?
Or should they be 'unselfish' and do what the family wants them to do to keep the family happy?

It is my contention that this generation should do self-reflection.
This is a decision that will primarily affect their own lives to a very high degree.
I don't even know if the word "selfish" applies - but, at least, it is how many people use the word today.

My larger contention is that "personal religious beliefs" are along this line - they should be made "selfishly" because they primarily affect the individual making the decision. Others may call it "selfish" in a negative way all they like, even though they themselves are likely a part of the religion they prefer (wouldn't that be "selfish" in the same way?)

I think the world would be a better place if we could all agree to be adult and mature about such personal decisions and not only allow each individual to make their own decision - but promote that each individual should make their own decision - and that such a decision should be made in alignment with that individual's personal identity (found through self-reflection by the individual.)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 15 by GDR, posted 01-17-2019 7:59 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 17 by GDR, posted 01-18-2019 5:07 PM Stile has responded

Posts: 4036
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004

Message 18 of 19 (848598)
02-11-2019 4:58 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by GDR
01-18-2019 5:07 PM

I'm not sure if we're still actually talking about the main topic this thread is about.

If not, this post probably won't make much sense, since I'm going to try and pull it all back to the main topic.
Main topic - People need to believe in what they're made for.

GDR writes:

I guess I see it a little differently. We can only interact with the world from the position of the self. We are all basically selfish and we all want the best for ourselves. What I see as being called to, is to overcoming that basically selfishness that we are born with.

It is about being prepared to sacrifice time, material things, and even personal security for the benefit of others. I used the example of Jean Vanier who came from a family of wealth and privilege to work with mentally disabled people all over the world. The trouble is I then look at myself who is able to take luxurious vacations while millions of people do not have enough to eat.

With very few exceptions we are all selfish. However we can still have hearts that genuinely care and even hurt when we see the suffering of others. We can at least go part way in helping others who suffer and are in need. We are capable, even though still fundamentally selfish, able to perform small or even large acts of born out of a sense that is altruistic.

In a very general "be nice to others" sense - yes, I think we would all agree.
But how does this relate to the main topic?

Should the want-to-be-doctors-generation "overcome that basic selfishness they are born with" and be farmers?
Should the family "overcome that basic selfishness they are born with" and allow their children to become doctors?
Should we promote that people should decide, on their own, what religion they should follow (or none at all?)

My answer is that the want-to-be-doctors should be "selfish" in this situation and become doctors.
The family should "overcome that basic selfishness they are born with" and allow their children to become doctors.
We should all promote that people should decide, on their own, what religion they should follow (or none at all.)

I would add however that we can also perform what has the appearance of an altruistic act, but is really born out of selfishness. If it is an act to gain the praise of others, or if we are doing it to gain favour with a deity, then it is no longer altruistic, which however does not negate the good that it might do.

I agree.
Along with the notion that actions speak louder than words (even if, sometimes, that loudness is incorrect.)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by GDR, posted 01-18-2019 5:07 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by GDR, posted 02-11-2019 6:37 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

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