The Secret Of Happiness




You may not have noticed it but at the top of this blog is my motto: The secret of happiness: be nice and have a laugh.

I am a firm believer in that. It goes on to say: "and in the words of Miss Piggy, never eat more than you can lift". But that's another story, we'll ignore that for now.

The vitriol that passes for reasoned argument these days is frightening. Some of the trolls on social media are vicious, cruel and often, it seems, mentally certifiable. What happened to the phrase "agree to disagree"? I live with a man who has strong views on just about everything, from climate change and Brexit to how Manchester United will fare under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But he likes to be challenged, to hear the other point of view, to have a reasoned discussion.

I have worked with people from all walks of life and many of them are my Facebook friends. They have differing views on politics and global issues. Unfortunately, a few of them will not tolerate a difference of opinion. Occasionally they "unfriend" people who disagree with them. I've got to a stage where I refuse to engage. I won't comment on political posts. Maybe it's cowardice on my part but it makes for a much more peaceful life.

So what made me write this post? I happened across the following Mark Twain excerpt from his Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings. It really struck a chord with me.


“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.” 

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12 comments:

  1. I'm with you! Luckily I don't have much interaction with trolls but as soon as one tries to engage me, I bow out of the conversation at once. Life is too short. As a very wise therapist once said to me: "Stop wearing yourself out trying to use logic on illogical people. You'll be happier and live longer."

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    1. I like that therapist's comment. It makes a lot of sense!

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  2. I used to enjoy political discussions...That is no longer possible. I blame much of this on social media and especially schools and colleges. Wren I went to college, the professors intentionally took positions opposite of students. There intention was to teach how to think, not what to think.

    For all the talk of the importance of diversity, we are more divided today than in the past.

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    1. I so agree. No one is allowed to put the opposite point of view any more. Our universities in Britain so often try to silence right wing views. I'm not ultra right wing or left wing but I absolutely think everyone should have their say - otherwise how can you challenge their reasoning?

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  3. It's like the old cartoons of Us vs Them.

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    1. I had to look this up as it's not well known here in the UK. Yes, very good!

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  4. I used to love political discussions and have always stayed tuned into them, but that was before Trump was elected and it all got so nasty so quickly.

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    1. Nasty is the word for politics in your country and mine (UK) these days. Very sad.

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  5. I agree, man is the most UN reasoning of all the animals. It's not that we can't learn, it's that we won't learn. Some of us have, you and me for instance, along with many others that I know, but we are overshadowed by those who don't want to know any opinion or belief that their own.

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    1. It's quite worrying. You have to test arguments, try to see both sides and come to your own conclusions rather than some knee-jerk reaction.

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  6. One bright young man whose Youtube channel we follow has a comforting theory about these idiot 'trolls', that it's a way for them to emote vitriol in cyberspace instead of creating violence in the real world. But I stay clear, for sure. Be well, my dear.

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    1. I hope that's right. I think most of them are harmless in that respect but trolling is a form of violence too.

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