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.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
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.