Now I think I found a revealing formulation for different approaches towards a happy life and happy world.
What the different approaches have in common is the persuasion that the right human mindset is the key ingredient for both a happy life and a happy world. The right mindset for this would be (roughly), more optimism, hope that transcends death, and interpretations that can attribute deeper meaning to daily activities and to extraordinary events like affliction and disease. Such a mindset makes people happy, and also enables them and motivates them to go and fix the world.
Now the difference between the approaches is how to shape the mind. Let’s enumerate a little:
- Social therapy.
- Meditation techniques.
- Religious beliefs.
All these above approach have in common that they seek to shape the mind “directly”, by exchanging mind content, which could be considered as “software”. While we don’t know exactly which or which combination of these approaches is the most effective one, it seems clear that they all are too weak, as no approach was able to permanently and effectively change the mindset of any large group of people to anything “near perfect”. From time to time, there are great individuals with an absolutely astonishing character, but all approaches failed on society scale.
Now why is this? Here is my opinion. What seems to be stronger than all these approaches seems to be the power of the “mind-eroding” objective circumstances. Which includes many things from bad example, to bad societal values, to natural catastropies, crime, physical frailty and much more. Shielding people might be done to a degree while changing their mindset, but after they are released to fix the world, they are again prone to erosion, and erosion will win over time. And I think the key reason for this is because the mind is hard-wired to try to find a representation of reality and to adapt to it. With a logic like: I see that objective reality does not justify that hope, so having hope in spite of this would make happier for a time but badly hurt when being disappointed in the end, which means we should better avoid it.
If this is correct, reality itself is the most powerful programmer of the mind. But this also gives a glimpse of hope: If objective reality is good at the bottom, and if we can find out that and experience it long and powerfully enough, then this will shape our mind more than the bad aspects of reality around us.
If you know what I’m up to, you know what this argument will lead to. Namely: If we could only experience that God is there, loves us, wants to saves us and even proves that by doing miracles in this world – then this could change our minds permanently because it both justifies and inspires hope. I hope to find these experiences in expeditions of the coming years.