Exploring The American Way


#1

Hi,

I am studying psychology with focus on positive-psychology (the science of wellbeing and happiness). Since many years I spent a lot of time reflecting on the question under which circumstances a human being can reach its highest level of life quality. What makes life worth living?

Obviously on of the influencing factors on life-quality is the kind of the society in which a person lives in. Certainly different forms of societies can provide different qualities and certainly preferences are subjective. But…
…but I think there is something special on the us-american society – at least on it’s ideal realisation. Concrete I am thinking: The ideal realisation of the “american way” or a society that provides its citizens to experience the american way enables men to reach the highest levels of freedom, of long-term happiness and wellbeing – this is my theory so to speak.

Now I try to figure out, what distinguishes the (ideal) us-american society from other social systems. And I want to find out what possibilities it is serving that other societies don’t.
First it is to figure out or to define what the “ideal us-american-society” even is. What are the core-elements or the core-values? Then to explain why it could (in best case) lead to highest levels of life-satisfaction. And in the end it is to strengthen, to distribute and to defend this kind of living. I hope to find people that would like to support me in this regard…

best wishes,
Phil


#2

The “idea” that made the United States the preferred destination for most of the world was the Liberty to decide ones own life course and the void of limits that resided anywhere but within the individual himself.

The ability to reap the full reward and/or consequences of a mans own decisions and actions, from the God he chooses to worship to the home he decides to build to the woman he marries and to the work that his hands find to do were ALL matters that he decided for himself.

Freedom was never easy and it never came with any guaranteed results, but the worst day as a free man is better than the best day as a man in chains and subject to the power of another, the United States represented that Freedom and Individual Self Determination in a world where such ideas were not a reality.

We have gradually traded this most blessed reality for a society that decides almost everything from the “top down”, we have rejected Individual Self Determination for the promise of provision that comes with chains bound so tight as to prevent much more than table scraps from being achievable for most.

We are still wealthy by comparison to most of the world but we are far from being at peace with our lives as a result of this new “American Dream”, when all of your provision is based upon the cold barrel of a government gun being able to take the Liberty and property of men by force; there can be no enduring peace or rest of the mind.


#3

I would add to the above, that we have scarcely tasted the cost of this new tyranny.

Take personal finances. It is now IMPOSSIBLE to save for one’s future! Whereas, all throughout our history, saving money was desired AND RENUMERATIVE, with the miracle of Compound Interest…eight years of ZIRP from the Fed to Institutional borrowing banks, and eight years of interest rates paid at fractions of a percent; and eight years of likewise low bonds; and eight years of a rigged capital market (stocks) that’s so filled with bubbles it is impossible to invest with certainty…

…Eight years, now, of Financial Repression, and now the spectre of NEGATIVE interest rates. Meaning banks CHARGE savers. Which would never work - except that this tyrannical government is on the verge of outlawing cash. Plastic and e-transfers only.

Which means you cannot NOT have money in the bank. Which will mean YOU CANNOT SAVE.

To young people, it may not matter. But what’s the difference between retired people living in Florida, with their reasonably-new cars and their days of pleasant activity? With medical care they pay from policies they bought years earlier?..the difference between them, and old people living in hovels in the inner city on $700 a month antiSocial inSecurity?

The difference is, MONEY SAVED AND INVESTED.

This micromanaging and distorting of our economy, by control freaks who don’t know what they’re doing but who hate freedom…is going to make ALL of us wards of the State in our old age. And antiSocial inSecurity WILL BE BANKRUPT.

And the dollar probably collapsed. There will be no social Safety Net.

The best course for many older people may wind up, committing a major crime. That way they get shelter and food that they cannot provide and government will default on its responsibility for mass geriatric destitution.

…Oh, we are in for it, in the years ahead…this is not only appropriate time for a revolution, it’s maybe the last chance.


#4

Some very good points!

“the Liberty to decide ones own life course and the void of limits that resided anywhere but within the individual himself.”
“The ability to reap the full reward and/or consequences of a mans own decisions and actions, from the God he chooses to worship to the home he decides to build to the woman he marries and to the work that his hands find to do were ALL matters that he decided for himself.”

From a psychological view the second point is very interesting. There is a construct called “learned helplessness” (created by Martin Seligman, a pioneer of positive psychology) that regards to the phenomenon that the condition of feeling or being unable to change your life or the circumstances in which you are is correlated with depression.
I think we can say: What’s true for the inner (mental) conditions of a human is true for its environment too – in both cases it makes one happy, it makes you feel well, if you are able to control what’s around you. And it tears you down, if you find yourself in situations that inhibit your possibility to take influence (even if your material/financial basis is acceptable).
That’s why an ideal society cannot exist without market economy.

In Europe (and I’m compelled to life there today) one gets welfare, nearly 1000 USD (800EUR) a month, if he is workless. You will earn a bit more than 1000 USD if you are employed in the non-academic field. This circumstance:

  • It makes no difference if you work or work not,
  • whatever you do, it doesn’t influence your situation
    makes people sick. It is one of the many problems today.

I think we have to overcome the socialistic-egalitarian ideology that claims:
We all are equal, we all should have the same -> that makes the scociety happy…

…and should emphasize instead:
We all are individuals. We all are different. We all should have the same chances but within a system that allows to “reap the full reward of a mans own decisions and actions” -> this will make men lucky and the society great.


#5

Welcome, enjoy the site.


#6

Welcome to RO!


#7

Hope you enjoy RO. Psychology, however, isn’t a true “science” and I doubt many of us have ever even HEARD of a sub-“science” like “happiness and well-being.” Sounds like another field of “study” like underwater basket weaving.


#8

Hey Pappa! How are you doing? Are you on the mend now? Sure do miss you around here! And, I agree with you about psychology. I worked in the Behavioral Sciences (aka: psychology) Department in a prestigious university in South Florida and believe me, they all need their own shrinks. Unfortunately, when people decide that it is too hard to follow the Christian life, they turn to psychology as their new religion. I saw too much corruption and ugly egos while I was there. I’m sure there are good psychologists, I’ve had a few of my own. But, in general, the whole field of psychology is wrought with the speaking in forked tongues anymore.


#9

Doing OK, CT. Getting my energy back is going 'way to slowly to suit me, though.

When you can take two psychologists who examine the same person and come to diametrically opposite opinions as to his “sanity” or responsibility, that alone should tell one that psychology is about as far from “science” as one can get. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times.


#10

Hi

Well… It could be, that positive psychology isn’t well known today, but at least more scientific than “underwater basket weaving”. I think the “positiv-division” within psychology will increase rapidly in the next decades.

Everything that any being has ever done, is doing now or will ever do in the future can be reduced to its efforts of being happy (for the longer therm). This is true for every being inclusively you - that’s an undeniable fact!
I would be looking forword the hear one example that refutes the thesis, if the thesis isn’t convincing.

Along these lines - what kind of research can be more important or meaningful than positive-psychology?


#11

The biggest problem with the “industry” of psychology is that it is not a “one size fits all”, which some try to make it out to be. Also, it cannot be an exact science, because it is impossible to know and/or predict all the variables. In my intro Psych course in college, there was an argument between the prof and one student, because the prof denied the existence of free will. His basis for using that as proof was that “with free will, you can’t have an exact science.” BINGO! It is not an exact science.


#12

To be perfectly honest, I don’t understand what you’re trying to say. Being “happy” can mean a whole host of things to different people. A criminal finds happiness when he/she is able to get away with crime. We cannot judge an animal’s “happiness” by man’s standards. A dog is “happy” to see it’s owner after he/she returns from work. But, do we really understand happiness in animals (if it exists in our definition) as opposed to human happiness? I would say this “positive-psychology” is just the same, warmed-over psychological term of “positive self-image” which hasn’t been a thrilling success, in my opinion.

Are you an atheist? I’m asking because I am going to say something that may send you into the stratosphere of indignation. True happiness only can come from union with God. Take for example the martyrs of the first through third centuries who were brutally put to death in the Circus of Rome. They were singing and praising God during their tortures. True happiness can only come from our acceptance and reliance on God. Other things like money, comfortable living, etc., are all temporary. They are, for the most part, false happiness. They don’t last. Look at some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in follywood. Most of them have experienced multiple marriages, addictions to drugs, etc. All of their money and possessions and power didn’t bring them the happiness only God can provide.

Sorry…guess I got on a rant. I’m just curious, though, about what you’re trying to say.


#13

He SEEMS to be trying to say that his chosen field of study isn’t REALLY utter foolishness and warmed over “I’m ok and you’re ok,” which is meaningless.


#14

Well, that’s why I would like him to clarify what he means by “positive psychology”.


#15

Yes. I should have defined the term “happiness” before.

Happiness in this sense means: The condition that feels best for an individual for the longer term. I should have used the words: wellbeing, long-term-life-satisfaction, fulfillment… – that’s what positive psychology is interested in. (It’s that, what you try to find within religion.)

It is true, you can’t find out what happiness means for another person or an animal. This will ever be subjective. But you can try to find out, which behaviour or which circumstances produce the highest levels of wellbeing, long-term-life-satisfaction,… in general.
For example Positive Psychology proved (not very surprisingly) that:

  • having relationships,
  • being creative,
  • being spiritual,
  • being able to use your strengths at work
  • to perfect a talent
  • or the perception of beauty (in general)
    increases most people’s wellbeing/lifequality.

No, I am not. I belief that human have immaterial souls. But I don’t devote myself to one specific religion.

But that’s an arbitrary dogma!
I could agree if you would say: Being spiritual is one thing that increases life-quality. But your claim <it’s the one and only cause> is a bit to simplified. There are many causes. And I can’t imagine anything more useful than finding the full spectrum of causes that makes people’s life fulfilling. Could You?


#16

[quote=“philipp, post:15, topic:48807”]
Yes. I should have defined the term “happiness” before.

Happiness in this sense means: The condition that feels best for an individual for the longer term. I should have used the words: wellbeing, long-term-life-satisfaction, fulfillment… – that’s what positive psychology is interested in. (It’s that, what you try to find within religion.)
[/quote] I’m pretty certain that Joe Stalin and Mao Tse Tung both died “happy,” “fulfilled” men.

It is true, you can’t find out what happiness means for another person or an animal. This will ever be subjective. But you can try to find out, which behaviour or which circumstances produce the highest levels of wellbeing, long-term-life-satisfaction,… in general.
For example Positive Psychology proved (not very surprisingly) that:

  • having relationships,
  • being creative,
  • being spiritual,
  • being able to use your strengths at work
  • to perfect a talent
  • or the perception of beauty (in general)
    increases most people’s wellbeing/lifequality.

Positive psychology “proved” nothing of the sort. It may have POSTULATED that those things bring some people happiness and fulfillment, but it hasn’t proven any such thing. I’ve had relatives of my own who were perfectly content to sit back and collect unemployment for as long as it was available and only got concerned when it ran out! And we KNOW that there are millions who share the same attitude.

No, I am not. I belief that human have immaterial souls. But I don’t devote myself to one specific religion.

Translation: “I’m an agnostic.”

But that’s an arbitrary dogma!
I could agree if you would say: Being spiritual is one thing that increases life-quality. But your claim <it’s the one and only cause> is a bit to simplified. There are many causes. And I can’t imagine anything more useful than finding the full spectrum of causes that makes people’s life fulfilling. Could You?

Sure.


#17

No, I’m not agnositc!
I am strongly convinced that human have immaterial souls. But I don’t devote myself to one specific religion.

(Being agnositc would mean: There is a 50% chance for god, souls,…)

Would you really deny that people with good relationships experience more life-quality than people that are living absolutely alone?
And can’t you really imagine, that this is provable? So why do you claim: “Positive psychology proved nothing of the sort”?
Note: The system of psychology is average-based.

It would be naive to say: “But I know at least one person that lives without relationships and despite is happy!!!"
Sure this is possible and it isn’t contradicting to the claim: Relationships (Friends, Family) improve peoples life-quality on average.

I asked:
"And I can’t imagine anything more useful than finding the full spectrum of causes that makes people’s life fulfilling. Could You?"
You said:
*“Sure”
*
Let me know what. .


#18

Reminds me of a story I heard once from a missionary. She was talking about a very poor woman who was just barely scraping by. I can’t remember the details clearly, but I believe the woman asked if she didn’t want more, perhaps it was some specific thing. Her answer - “I have Jesus, what need I more?”


#19

I appreciate your honesty and I apologize if I offended you in anyway in my remarks. I didn’t mean to do that. I think that we have to look at the terms spiritual and Christian. I’m not trying to turn this into a religious debate, but I hear sooooo much about being spiritual these days. And it seems as that term can mean a myriad of different things including wiccan spirituality, pantheism (the belief that everything is a god or contains god), occultism, and all sorts of other things in between. I am a spiritual person only because my faith is in the Christian God. That is where my spirituality begins and ends.

People are looking for something beyond themselves. (It seems to be “hard-wired” in us.) They are looking for the magic answer to all their problems and desires. But, they look for it in all the wrong places–you know–that song, “Looking for love in all the wrong places…”

Yes, all those things you mentioned do add to a person’s happiness, well-being. But what happens when those things either die or cease to be a part of life for someone?

Interesting discussion, Phillip!


#20

And that really is the bottom line. Over the past few years, I’ve experienced personal losses that would normally have thrown me into a deep depression. The inability to teach anymore, my physical disabilities (which are the cause of why I can’t teach anymore), the loss of my independence because of my physical disabilities, and the list goes on. If I didn’t have my Lord in my life, I would have left this life a long time ago.