I think the better word is "sharing" happiness with others. For example large sums of money would not be as joyful if there was no one to share with.
I agree, we can only share what we've got, and obvious though it sounds, sharing sadness brings other people down.
However, if we are sad then it can cheer us up to make someone else happy. That person may then go on to help us in the future.
But some people have an unrealistic notion of what constitutes happiness for them. For example: me shutting up.
Seriously, though, some people will never be happy.
I think your close but I would say, The way to be happy is to secure your own happiness, but not at the expense of others. Your statment holds the underlying Idea that if you secure the happiness of others then they will secure happiness for you but I have found that to prove false again and again. If you secure your happiness at the expense of others then you can expect a reaction, if you try to make everyone happy you will find yourself drained and trampled.
"Your statement holds the underlying Idea that if you secure the happiness of others then they will secure happiness for you but I have found that to prove false again and again."
I like this: I think it's a valid point to raise. I firmly believe that if you give away riches then you will be given riches, however, don't expect results tit-for-tat because it doesn't work like that. But if I make a habit of being generous and kind then I believe the world at large will provide for me much better than if I am mean and uncharitable.
Simon, I don't interpret as a tit-for-tat reciprocation, I see it as saying that the very act of seeing the happiness one have brought to others, can make one happy. As a very wise man once said, "The shortest path to finding oneself, lies in losing oneself in the service of others."
Here's a quote from "The Case for God" by Karen Armstrong, describing early Eastern religions -
"By far the best way of achieving anatta ['no self'] was compassion, the ability to feel with the other, which required that one dethrone the self from the centre of one's world and put another there."
I think most of us don't realize how significant empathy has been in our social evolution, as we live in our houses isolated from who would have been daily, face-to-face neighbors and socially interactive pack members. At the band/tribe level, we used to be a lot more invested in each other's personal happiness than we are in modern days.
I'm not saying that's the way things should be; I'm just saying that it should be no surprise if many of us do gain happiness naturally from each other. The general level of happiness in one's social environment can even affect the level of one's health. There's a feedback loop built in.
I happen to think that (as artificial as it is), social networking will take us back in that direction, especially as we increase our face-to-face (e.g. Skype) interactions. (Despite that this post comes from a guy who never has a real picture of his face on an avatar.)
Pope Pable - RE: "At the band/tribe level, we used to be a lot more invested in each other's personal happiness than we are in modern days."
Actually, I believe you'll reconsider when you think about it. Robert Ardry, author of The Naked Ape maintains, and I agree and think you will too, that we still retain the tribal mentality - that tribes in prehistoric times, consisted of 20-30 members, and if you'll count your friends and associates that mean anything to you, you'll find that normally, they will number about 20 to 30 people. Granted, they may be scattered around the world, rather than clustered in your single neighborhood, but those people constitute our tribes.
I agree the analogy is partly valid. However, bands (about 20-30 members) and tribes (about 30-50 members) are fundamentally not just egalitarian, but they depend on each other (sometimes daily) even in life and death situations. They eat together, sing and dance together, and can often hear each other at night, or in the morning, and they share just about everything they possess with each other. "Ownership" is not even in some of their vocabularies.
Everyone knows each other and talks about each other, and even marriages are local (albeit often inter-band/inter-tribal) and largely sanctioned or accepted by the same group of people who all know each other. They are almost constantly in face-to-face relationships, and for most of their lives with the same neighbors.
(Btw, I think you meant the author Morris Desmond, or a different book, in either published about 50 years ago.)
But it does sound like you and I agree at least that the potential of modern humans being invested in each other's happiness is still there.
Actually, we're both wro, wro - not entirely correct. Desmond Morris (not Morris Desmond) wrote The Naked Ape, while Robert Ardry wrote African Genesis.
RE: "published about 50 years ago." - how long ago did Darwin write The Origin of Species, and did the book's publication date have any bearing on its validity?
how long ago did Darwin write The Origin of Species, and did the book's publication date have any bearing on its validity?
True, and I'm certain that you're better read than I am in any case. I can't hold a candle to your repertoire most of the time! (Seriously.) But the fields of cultural anthropology and evolutionary psychology have evolved more in the past 50 years than has the core relevance of Darwinism. Modern culture (or at least our environment of social-interaction) evolves significantly practically yearly if not monthly, these days.
I'm taking up a cultural anthropology class, and will probably want to say more later, somewhere. (It's funny... in the very first paragraph of the first chapter of the textbook, the author starts out by describing flame wars as a recent aspect of modern culture.)