Sam Harris on Happiness
Question: What makes you happy?
Sam Harris: Well it’s an elusive thing to get a hold of. I think the absence of neurosis, the absence of fear, the absence of anxiety. When you recognize what consciousness is like, when those states of mind have subsided, it seems to me intrinsically happy. It’s intrinsically at ease. It’s intrinsically peaceful, and at times even blissful. It’s just the lack of complication. Just merely being aware of one’s self in the present moment, and not continually being in conversation with one’s self about the present moment and just thinking, thinking, thinking incessantly.
When that can subside, either because you’re meditating, or because you’re enjoying yourself so much in sports. Or you’re having sex. I mean, any peak experience has this feature of having your attention really focused in a very uncomplicated way on your experience in the present. And that state of mind is what I would call happiness.
And all of the obstacles to being at rest in that state of mind, I think of as the obstacles to happiness. And those are things like a neurotic self-absorption with how other people perceive you; or anxiety about the future; or regret about the thing you didn’t say yesterday. Those are the ways/modes of thought that keep us from recognizing that it’s possible to be really at ease in the present, and happy before anything happens. I mean, to have happiness that’s not contingent upon the next good thing that’s going to happen, but to just actually be at rest with what is happening right now.
Recorded on: July 4, 2007.
Sam Harris on the absence of neuroses.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
Cosmologists propose a groundbreaking model of the universe using string theory.
- A new paper uses string theory to propose a new model of the universe.
- The researchers think our universe may be riding a bubble expanded by dark energy.
- All matter in the universe may exist in strings that reach into another dimension.
Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.
- An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
- Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
- Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.