=1 "What the old computer had to say about happiness"

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What the old computer had to say about happiness

I have often wondered how it happens that intelligent people don’t seem to be as happy as their less intelligent brothers. They are usually more sensitive, and I thought they should have a higher capacity for happiness, but instead they have only a keener sense of the lack of it. So one day I asked the Old Computer.

You remember The Old Computer on Snow White 3? You have to go far into the future to meet him, but his ancient dia-dia memory plates go back for 40,000 years, and so it was possible that he might have something on human happiness.

“Now let me see,” he said. “Human beings. Here we have Human, now extinct, ancestors of superman. F-G-H-Happiness. Hmmm.

“Very complicated. A very complicated being, too. And he was always looking for a simple happiness. But happiness for which part of his being? His body? A nice walk to tire it, a nice rest, a good sleep, good food and not too much of it, and the body was happy. Quite simple to keep the body happy. But man was not only a body, like the animals. He lived in a body, yes, together with a lot of his ancestors who made up his vital being, and they insisted on a home, a family and a loving mate. But when those desires were satisfied his mental being had ideas about happiness, too. And the more that mental being was developed, the bigger was its appetite for information, books, theatre, travel, and often also for beautiful things to satisfy his esthetic sense. And all these things not only made life more difficult but were frequently contradictory to the desires of the preceding parts of his being.

“But the astonishing thing was his discovery that even when he had satisfied all these desires he was still not happy. The more he was able to satisfy his physical, his vital and his mental being, the more unhappy he seemed to become. Men usually started life with the illusion that money was a necessary ingredient of happiness, so they worked like beavers to make money. Yet once they got it they felt betrayed. They were now old, and old age was resented as a catastrophe, a final bad joke in their search for happiness. The more they evolved and the more intelligent they became the more let down they felt, so they tried all kinds of substitutes. Here are the foremost ways in which people pursued their happiness: first, social contact with other rich and therefore unhappy people; second, amusement; third, personal adornment. Ugh!

“They had not learned even the rudiments of happiness, because they had not yet found out all their constituent parts. They had the strange illusion that they were a single whole, yet each one felt separate from the others, and though they should have become aware of the clamorous multitude of ancestors in them, they had not yet discovered that there was also future man.

“Oh, yes, a few people were already happy - artists and writers who had surrendered those lower parts of their surface to their true person in creative works. Not only such great men of the race but a multitude of anonymous workers had found that happiness.

“Now, let me see, under Bliss..

“The main difficulty here was that man imagined himself the most perfect being, the crown of evolution, when in truth he was in the midst of a difficult passage to something more evolved. Since he was full of atavisms, of biological and cultural anachronisms, the happiness he was looking for was also an anachonistic happiness, a multitude of little joys of the past connected with particular things or circumstances, the pleasures of his ancestors. So when he got them he was disappointed, naturally, for future man lived not only among men but in man, and he too insisted on his true happiness - the bliss of the universe.

“Finally it was a question of evolution, and happy man appeared and took over - he who lived in the fullness of his being, conscious of his eternity, and the possessor of bliss.”

See also