Tag Archives: Happiness

Happiness engineers

If you work at Google nowadays you eat the healthiest food, work out and take naps whenever necessary. Your bosses will avoid conflict situations for you, encourage you to meditate and do whatever else is in their capacity to keep you as an individual happy. Why? When you are happy, your products are better.

In some advanced farms, cows are being trained to choose the timing of their milking by themselves. The machines they use for this system measure milking frequency and milk quality for every cow individually, and continuously adapt the cow’s diet to make her milk as nutritious as possible. The philosophy: every cow has innate needs satisfying those results in happiness and great milk. Such farms save human labour hours because no one has to force the poor animals into milking machines.

Have you ever heard of Plant Lab? This organization advocates that plants don’t enjoy growing in nature at all. The constant combat for light and nutrients and the irregularity of the weather make them stressed and weak. After long-lasting experiments, they have concluded that plants prefer stable, controlled conditions with purple light, the perfect amount of nutrients and a warm gentle breeze . In their arrangement, plants grow faster, are more nutritious and are more resistant to bugs. In fact, their defence systems become so effective, that if you take a seedling out of Plant Lab into the field, you don’t need to add pesticides for a whole month.

These are just three examples of how the performance of living beings is being optimized with support of knowledge and technology.  By paying more attention to the individual wants and needs, providing not more than the necessary, the boss spends less and gains more. The workers are happy. That’s a win-win, right?

Something in that construct itches me, but it’s not easy to place. Perhaps it is the fact that it emerges out of the industrial paradigm, out of the reductionist idea of beings as objects with on/off switches. By taking the experience of this being into account, by listening to it, one respects it in a different way. The reductionist paradigm meets the holistic paradigm, lifting society to an unprecedented state of enlightenment.

I haven’t convinced myself yet. Is it the idea of domineering? By giving someone precisely what he wants, one can control him entirely and use his energy at will. It increases the power of industry owners and mankind in general to a new level that can become scary if the power is in the wrong hands. Then again, if need satisfaction becomes the status quo, the owners are replaceable.

What itches me most, I think, is the fact that over my lifetime, I have learned to appreciate adventure and uncertainty. I have learned that longing for something for a while can deepen satisfaction in life. Perhaps I am afraid that if this trend continues and the emotional turbulence stabilizes, we will forget the beauty of suffering. Yet we luxuriant people have already long forgotten that.

I might just be old fashioned.

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A plea for the space in the smiley

SmileyPlea

Which one looks better? Number two, right? Then why does everyone write smileys like the first one? If anything, that one looks as if it’s being squeezed.

Here’s a hypothesis: it’s because of a false sense of rush. People feel the need to hurry, and can’t afford to tap the spacebar between the colon and the bracket. They believe it is acceptable to write a smiley as a frog’s face. Everybody does it, after all. If this is true, they are caught in a system of neglect. For vague reasons, they renounce the use of details, character and happiness. Watch the pictures once more if you are not sure.

Maybe it’s because when you type it without space, some programs replace your signs for a little smiley image. This explanation is even worse. It means that people place their creativity in the hands of some machine, coded for commercial reasons. They believe that industrial outputs are better than their own, and therefore let their acts be controlled by it, even when they are not working with that program. Very sad.

Or perhaps people feel that the bigger the smile, the happier the face. Those people I’d like to ask to stand up, walk to the mirror and try it out for themselves.

Putting the space within the smiley is an act of resistance. With this space, one shows that he does not succumb to the degradation of the creative mind. One shows control over the own agenda and willingness to offer a tiny bit of extra time to the reader, just for the sake of his joy. The user of this space tells the world that he cannot be pushed in the direction where our surroundings or inventive marketers try to get us.

Don’t you agree that society is saturated with colours, smells and yells? Using this space shows that you too believe in a world where absence of information is appreciated. It symbolizes faith in a more easy, gentle and comprehensible society, where things can happen at their pace. Isn’t it wonderful that this can be demonstrated with something simple as a smile?

: )

Happiness on a map

A hand sized acorn leaf settles itself on my lap as I bike back from work. It is beautiful how nature can make you feel special at times. I’m on my way to Qu’awa D’or, a coffee place where I will pick up our poster. That’s where this started.

It’s been about three months since I met Korrie de Vet, laughing. She invited me to join a meeting about a happiness route through Amsterdam Oost. The idea: volunteers share whatever makes them happy with those who walk the route. I propose a week later that we use our garden for something. A fire for example. That’s what I like to do. But I’m open for more plans.

Over the past months, I have tried to mobilize the neighbours via our shared Facebook page. People were interested as we went by the doors, but nobody showed up at the meeting I proposed for yesterday. So no grand plan, no filling of the space, just fire. People will bring the ambience. That is, in fact, precisely the idea of the route. The lack of control seems just to be something I have to deal with.

A lady I met before awaits me at Qu’awa d’Or. She shows me the poster. There’s a map as well. It indicates all the happy spots in a colourfull way. It even has the name Sailing on Dreams. I learn that there will be a shamanic opening ritual, performed by the lady who took the initiative. She once dreamt to create this route. It will exist this weekend. Those are the ones.

I’m curious what these days will bring. My preparation was mostly in thought, little in action. But simple plans now rise. Be welcome to join. We’re number 11.