Post-Christmas Resolution, Day 172 – Schrödinger’s Happiness, Or A Bizarre Theory Of Lasting Happiness

Posted a small morsel for a park on sparked.com … Drove over to my daughters’ school because they asked if I could come take pictures of them and their friends on field day … Writing thank-you’s to the principals of the two schools my children attend. Both are moving on. 


Schrodingers cat

I propose that happiness lies neither in “me” nor in “not me”. I propose that happiness occurs simultaneously from both “me” and “not me”. But the moment we look at it, that happiness seems to come from only one or the other. Just like Schrödinger’s cat is both alive and dead at the same time until we look at it.

Schrödinger’s_cat is a famous thought experiment in the form of a metaphor on quantum decoherence (A theory that two particles which were once together, now are separated, still behave the same, and yet collapse to one particle when measured.).  In short, a cat and a vial of poison are in a sealed box with a geiger counter. If the counter detects radiation, the vial is shattered killing the cat. The queer thing is that if the box is sealed, the cat is actually both alive and dead. But if we open the box, we see only a live or dead cat.

That’s bizarre. And it is my contention that the source of happiness is just as bizarre.

We spend a lot of time focusing on our personal happiness. We use language like “I” and “me” to say what we’re going to do to make ourselves happy. But that’s limiting because the more we focus on “me”, the less happy we become.

Conversely, if we spend all our time focusing on “not me”, “me” is subsumed by others’ desire. That incredibly good feeling of giving is crushed by demands and the less happy we become.

And yet, ironically, it’s not a balance of the two either. Because a balance implies that happiness comes from a little bit of one then a little bit of another. But I think this oscillation has the effect of getting us to want the other.

The bizarreness comes in that happiness occurs when the source of the happiness comes from “me” and “not me” at the same time.

Think about it for a moment. When something good happens to us, we want to share it with someone else. We want someone outside of us to feed back into us happiness that we’re experiencing. That same something, experienced alone, gives us a less happy feeling. We’re less happy when we’re in a good mood, but we’re surrounded by negativity. But the feeling engendered by sharing your happiness with a genuinely interested person, or the feeling you get when someone expresses their sincere appreciation for the work you’ve done well is priceless. They happen at the same time.

And yet, when we look at the thing that caused our happiness we only see one or the other. Maybe you got a big raise, but without your spouse to enjoy it with you it feels empty. But when we talk about why we’re happy, we say it’s because we got a raise.

Lasting happiness will happen when we continually align the things we do that make us happy with those things that also give us positive feedback, namely people.

I don’t know if Schrödinger’s cat was happy or not. But I’ll bet it would have been happier if someone was with him in the box.

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About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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