How To Live A Happy Life Series
* Part 0 - Introduction
* Part 1 - History of the 3 Greeks
* Part 2 - Remembered Self (The Ingredients of Happiness)
* Part 3 - Experienced Self
Note: This series of posts can largely be read independent from one another, but it may be of benefit to read them in sequence.

How To Live A Happy Life (Part 0) — Introduction

The purpose of this series of essays is an attempt to unravel and answer the age old ethical questions (all with the same form of requiring guidance): what is happiness (if anything) and how can I make myself it?; what is the best life to live; and how can I live my life so that it is the best and most preferable?

There are certain sets of assumptions in these questions, such as there being an answer to these questions — that is, that there is known information to merely find, or unknown information to discover.

Throughout the essay, I will attempt to define, refine, and most important clarify (with new terminology) the most important and salient beliefs, and concepts relating to the questions listed.

In doing so, I hope to arrive at convincing answers. Not only for myself — which is the main motive, but also in the hope that I can provide some value to any readers by (1) saving you time from having to read these primary sources first hand if you do not desire to do so, and (2) by being able to share what I have spent too much time thinking about, and as a result can hopefully provide some clarity on a subject that could seem inaccessible to some.

The Three Main Methods

Methods are different tools or procedures used in attempting to produce a result — in this situation, arrive at answers. I think that all attempts to answer the questions set out can be categorized into 3 main methods:

Happy Narratives

The first method that we can use in attempting to discover the answers is relying on reports from other people. We can ask others, or read stories from others, observe others, or read theories and speculations from others. This can provide us with new concepts and ideas. This is what half of this book is based upon — others concepts and ideas, and my own. The other half is based on the science. These concepts and ideas can be valuable for two reasons — the first is that they may be valuable by themselves in attempting to answer the questions, and the second is they may provide us with new ideas to use and test in the second two ways — via science and our own experience.

The Scientific Method

The second method that we can use is science. Science uses a systematic set of observations and tools to attempt to quantify and arrive at answers which go beyond a single person. Such tools are valuable because they can overcome biases and the problem that a single individual is limited in his ability, whereas science relies on many individuals (ie law of large numbers). There are many tools which science can use — questionnaires, brain scans, facial expressions, and more.

Self Experimentation & Self Awareness

The last method (and likely the most popular, with relying on others stories as a close second) that we can use is relying on our own experience. This is how most people live their lives — reacting to immediate feedback in their environment and deciding what feels good and what doesn’t, and changing their behavior accordingly (ideally).

But science and others stories may still be of value in providing us with ideas to test for ourselves, and get our own first-hand experience. Doing such testing formally and well measured is titled self-experimentation. (or systematic phenomenology)

……………………………………………………………………… Next Up →