The Self-confessed Hedonist

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Hedonism has a rather negative connotation these days. It carries with it ideas of debauchery and wanton living. But that was not the original philosophical concept of hedonism. A hedonist has always been one whose philosophical goal and purpose is the pursuit of happiness and pleasure, which is perfectly legitimate, by any standard.

The above photo was taken on 23 June 2017. I had wanted to tan myself in the sun while reading a book and drinking an exotic Chinese plum juice. But as luck would have it, as I was setting up my camera (yes, like most East Asians, I’m a selfie addict), it started to rain. My camera and phone are waterproof but my book is not. I decided not to let the bad weather put me out of humour and so I continued basking in the very light drizzle (which was quite pleasant) while reading from my phone and drinking my exotic plum juice. A hedonist will not let the weather ruin his plan. He makes the best of everything because, really, life is very pleasurable whether you bask in the sun or lie on a mat in the light rain. Later, the rain became a bit heavier, and my happiness scales showed me quite clearly that staying indoors would be more pleasant and so into my house I went.

When I was a boy, I chanced on a book by Edward de Bono called ‘The Happiness Purpose’. As I read the book, I had this curious feeling that de Bono must have by some means of telepathy filched his ideas from me. Because everything he wrote about how to achieve maximum happiness had always been a part of the principles of my life for me since birth. He was vocalising what I had always been practising.

Many people don’t understand what is really meant by the pursuit of happiness and pleasure. They assume that if a person seeks pleasure, he will probably have multiple sex partners, will drink in excess, smoke, do drugs, etc. Nothing is further from the truth than that. Excessive anything only contributes to the destruction of happiness and pleasure. Being faithful to one’s spouse actually goes a long way in contributing to real happiness and pleasure. But of course we are all not the same and we aren’t all immersed in the same circumstances and so what works for me may not do so for others. We all have our different routes to happiness and the purpose of life is to find the best route to maximum happiness and pleasure.

One universal truth I have discovered is that if you allow anything negative into your life, it’s sure to take away your happiness and pleasure. It may seem to give you pleasure or happiness in the short term but it’s sure to be ultimately inimical to happiness and pleasure in the long term. Long term happiness is much more desirable than a fleeting one. Hatred and evil (the two most negative forces) must be firmly repudiated. You must avoid people who are out to hurt you but you must never hate them or plot their ruin. Hate and evil are self-destructive forces that must be the hedonist’s greatest enemy.

Be a hedonist – make the best of everything and always see the funny side of everything. And never allow negative forces to enter your heart.

52 thoughts on “The Self-confessed Hedonist”

  1. It has been researched and studies made.And the results have been published ,of who are the happiest people on the earth. They made a list and the ones on the top of the list were not from the most affluent countries, of course they were not from the starving countries, either.Money does not give you happiness, it does give you a sense of security. But if you get used to a certain standard of living, you get very sad if you loss it.Therefore, I tend to agree with Patrick's statement.

  2. How then is the average Bhutanese happy when he is poor by our standards? I think he is only happy because he doesn't know what he's missing. But for the rest of us who have tasted the fruit of luxury, we can never be happy again if we are deprived of the things we have all taken for granted. This is a sad truth and I hate to admit it but we need filthy lucre to be happy.

  3. It's interesting to see how shallow my first write-up was. When I wrote the above blog post, I did not consider one very important factor which I took for granted. I had sort of assumed without thinking about it that everyone had sufficient financial resources. And then Patrick wrote his comment that made me realised that I had thrown in a presumption without stating it which is pretty shoddy work on my part. When he said happiness is the realisation that what we have is what we need, I saw immediately that that wouldn't be enough. We need more for our happiness. Most books will tell you that you don't need money to be happy but that's rubbish. I don't think you can be happy if you have no money. My article above was written on the assumption that you already have sufficient money. At this rate, I don't think I can pass Philosophy 101. LOL

      • I spent a wonderful evening in the company of El Hongo in Playa Del Carmen a couple of nights back who has started a not for profit group teaching children about art, music and all sorts of things they aren't taught in school in Mexico with the aim of opening their minds and improving their local neighbourhood. He said, "don't feel sorry for us because of the way we live. We are happy, we are free and we have choices". That really hit home with me.

  4. "One universal truth I have discovered is that if you allow anything negative into your life, it’s sure to take away your happiness and pleasure." As I discovered when I married my Ex – She's the most negative person I know 🙂

  5. My path to true happiness has had many turns, many stops along the way and many, many distractions!. In truth my vision of what I thought happiness was also changed a few times along the route. True it was not to be found in copious quantities of alcohol or in sexual conquests, but those things did serve to put me back onto the better pathway. Maybe I'm still not 100% sure of what 'happiness' is (for me) but I do know that with the love of my wife, with the care of medical professionals and with the joy of my family I am beginning to understand that 'happiness' isn't in a place, or in a state of mind. It is in the realization that what you have is what you need & what you crave for is but a touch away and if it is destined to come into your day you may realise that you spent too much time with useless things in your field of vision.

    • Interesting view of happiness, Patrick. I have a different view. What you have is what you need doesn't sound like happiness to me. It sounds more like asceticism. For me, happiness comes when I have more than what I need. There are many things I don't need but I do want them and if I don't have them, happiness may be illusory. Unkind people may call me a spoilt brat for saying this but think about it and you'll know I'm right. There are millions of things we don't really need but we must have them for us to be truly happy. I agree that the love of my wife and kids is necessary for there to be happiness and I agree that we need medical care when we are sick for us to be happy. But surely, happiness is a state of mind? Two persons may have exactly the same things but one may be happy and the other not. So it is the state of the mind that determines whether the person is going to be happy. I have read that people in Bhutan are the happiest in the world. But when you look at a typical Bhutanese, you'll find that he is deprived of many things that we must have in order to have happiness. I don't think I can be happy as an average Bhutanese. That is because the state of my mind requires a list of things that the Bhutanese can do without. Most of these things have nothing to do with my basic needs. They are things we can do without but we won't be happy when we haven't got them.

    • Haha, I love the Guinness glass. It's actually my wife's. It came free with a carton of Guinness that she bought. I usually fill the glass with milk or juices. In this pic, I was drinking a really exotic Chinese plum juice. I'm afraid I'm not much of an alcohol drinker. My wife is much better at that. LOL

  6. One of the things Edward de Bono did in his book was to draw two circles. One represents our ambition or desire and the other our abilities. Our abilities are not just our physical and mental abilities but they include everything about us ie our circumstances, our birth, our family, our socio-economic status, etc. It's when the ambition or desire circle is far larger than the abilities circle that a person becomes stressed and unhappy. The ideal situation is to have both circles exactly the same and there is no overlap. Achieving that is really tough because many people have an exaggerated idea of their abilities circle. They think it's much larger than it really is and they have a correspondingly large desire circle to match it. That is sure to breed unhappiness.

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