Conflicts of Values and Happiness
(This was a portion from an earlier SeqComp Article)
While psychologists are sought out for a variety of behavior disorders, their services are probably most commonly retained privately for general dissatisfaction, or people who are not happy. Happiness does not exist. There are feelings people associate with being happy, and these feelings are associated with objects, but happiness is not something one achieves or possesses. Happiness as a mood is the absence of imposition. Obviously, feelings can be achieved through experience with subjects that produce feelings defined as happy, but achievement refers to a state of happiness where a person is always happy.
Happiness is an idea that consists of objects of value. Some of these objects have no inherent value to the individual, and many of these objects derive their value from the value of other objects, or the value of the idea they exist in. For example,
A child sees a commercial which consists of a setting with children playing exhibiting feelings of happiness that center around the toy. The toy’s value is associated with the perceived happiness of the participants in the setting, while the inherent value of the toy, the utility in how it functions, and the anticipated feelings produced through interaction with it go unconsidered. The toy of course becomes an object of desire and ultimately becomes an item associated with the child’s happiness. I will elaborate after providing examples.
When I was a child, I remember there was a toy called the Slime Pit used with He-Man action figures. So great was my value of the toy that when a large present was shown to me near Christmas and I was asked what I hoped it contained, I said 100 Slime Pits as there was no thing I desired more. I don’t remember if I received it for Christmas, but eventually I either owned one or had an opportunity to interact with one, and the experience was one of extreme disappointment. If I remember it correctly, the toy consisted of a bucket or a trough and a mechanism where the trough could be turned to drop the slime on an action figure. The slime itself had more utility in play than did the toy. The commercial however, consisted of a narrative, a child or children playing with action figures, probably voices of action figure characters or the children speaking the dialogue, and associated a sense of fun with the toy based on the setting that was not inherent to the effects produced by its design. For months as a child my greatest object of desire was an object that I didn’t value.
Understanding this, my daughter wanted a toy when she was between 7 and 9. The toy was about a softball sized metal ball encased in hard plastic. The commercial showed children and possibly adults rolling the ball around their body, there was probably music, a story, and the participants demonstrated the appearance of happy feelings interacting with the ball.
You cannot pick up the ball and perform the tricks in the commercial. A person has to dedicate time to learning the tricks which ultimately depends on the value of interacting with the ball. Rolling a ball around on yourself is not an activity that is going to produce much pleasure for most people. Indirectly, the tricks are not an activity that will hold anyone’s attention very long, so the skills do not have value in performance (Addition: socially and image promotion). She was young, and I warned her beforehand, not to persuade her from wanting the ball, but so she would learn a lesson in the persuasiveness of marketing. If I remember correctly, my dad bought her the ball for Christmas, and it should be counted as one of the best gifts she has ever received because of the lesson learned.
An adult’s conception of happiness consists of their entire life of these kind of impressions which are not limited to marketing. Everything they see whether a commercial, music, television, movies, in school, at work, at an event, leaves an impression that contributes to the associative value of objects. Like the child their idea of happiness consists of objects they value based on what is perceived to be the feelings they produce. The appearance of happiness has value to most people in American culture, which contributes to leaving impressions on people that contribute value to objects.
Many people spend their lives pursuing objects that actually have no value to them. Many of these objects ensnare the individual as there is responsibility attached to them. Those with the means enter the offices of psychologists having achieved their goals, good job, house, family and money in the bank but don’t have the happiness they associated with these objects. The idea of happiness is true to them, so they focus on details, usually intimate relationships are the chief subject they feel that needs to be tweaked, and eventually it becomes a matter of adjusting their perspective. The psychologist is a medium to achieving this contentment, suggesting sequencing in the form of the explanation of feelings, thoughts, and behavior. A sequence does not have to be correct to be understood as being true. A true sequence can be true simply because it serves as an explanation of cause and effect,that does not conflict with any other sequences an individual accepts as being true. A mind built on false sequences, that operate as laws to thought, is going to produce uncertainty which is the basis of fear.
I mentioned a scenario previously to highlight conflict of values where a person achieves the objects of their happiness but hasn’t realized the general feelings of happiness associated with the idea. Many people have not procured their objects of desire and psychologists are often retained to correct thoughts, feelings, and behavior believed to be hindering progress towards goals. The impacts of changing thought and behavior to achieve goals benefits the counselee in that even if they are pursuing goals of associative value, they are better equipped to achieve other goals of inherent value once they discover their value conflicts. However, despite the ability of learned sequencing to change behavior, any sequencing accepted as true which is not, although it leads to desired changes may lead to other undesirable thoughts, feelings, behavior, and obstructions to general life purposes.
People’s value of objects, what they like, is largely the product of associations. For example. When I was about 8 years old, I asked my dad why he was a democrat? He said because his dad told him the democrats are the party of the working people. Which was probably certainly truer when his dad told him, than it was when he told me, but not because of the principles of the party, it was based on the fact there was greater union participation, more money, and more influence in a government where the representation of an interest is equal to the money behind it, versus the money behind an interest the represented interest harms. According to Thomas Ferguson, money took on more meaning overtly in politics during the 94 mid-term elections where democrats moved even further away from representing working interests than they had previously to attract the money required to stay competitive in elections. Which isn’t to say it didn’t direct policy prior to that in both parties, only that the expression of it became more overt and the thin principles the democrats expressed began to erode further. Obama testified to that effect stating that 30 years before he took office he would have been considered a moderate republican.
The point is, his value of the democratic party was tied to the value of his dad and is tied to his value of himself. It wasn’t based on any understanding of actual policy. This gave value to anything associated with democrats, and his understanding of politics was largely based on what they said. His understanding essentially consisted of what value they ascribed to subjects he had a minimal understanding of. In an act that seemingly contradicts this assertion, I think he said he voted for H.W. Bush during the 88 election, but this speaks more to the effectiveness of marketing, the ineffectiveness of Dukakis, and my dad’s limited understanding of politics and government at that time.
This is why Trump doesn’t have to say much more than it’s very bad or it’s very good because his supporters’ value of him is based on other values, and the value he attributes to objects give value to objects for his supporters. Trump is the best example of this in the sheer volume of these kinds of statements, but associative value is the basis of the American public’s political understanding and is an individual’s general basis for value across all subjects. Other associated value is only slightly deeper, the value of statements, or the illusion of knowledge based on statistics with limited context.
Most people’s understanding is based on association and not substance. I’ll provide a few examples, which are supported by many more in the Comments and Exchanges section.
Excerpt from a message exchange with my dad: An associative understanding is where what is believed to be true isn’t based on an understanding of why it’s true, but is based on a person’s value (like) of associated objects. For example, I probably texted or wrote some stupid email about the economy in the early stages of my development, and he responded “a republican economist told Clinton no one could fix the economy in 4 years.” I don’t remember what my position was, but he took an opinion as a fact because he thinks a republican economist would be biased, and if the republican economist said this about a democrat, it must be true. Without the ability to articulate any of the understanding that makes that statement true or false he accepts it as true.
Another example is a recent comment exchange about Coronavirus. I’m not including my response because it is primarily an argument against the exaggerated threat of the virus based on the interest of the media to maintain attention to sell advertising or sell subscriptions.
Commenter: Shawnte Isaac Our lying, fearmongering, criminal, and wannabe dictator President told us NOT to worry about a pandemic. WE SHOULD ALL BE ACTIVELY WORRYING!
This comment was the subject of associative reasoning, where a negative association with a subject and a person serves as the inverse basis for establishing fact. In many other situations a positive association with an individual, as mentioned in the previous example, serves as the basis for establishing fact. The individual’s value of Trump causes whatever he says to regarded as untrue, with no need to understand the subject (how Covid-19 is dangerous or not) It is observable throughout this species, serving as the primary basis of reasoning and assignments of truth.
Sometimes value forms or is reinforced through mistaken causation. My dad injured his back working and was out of work for a few years as a result. He benefited from a computer skills class that allowed him to reenter the workforce after being on AFDC for probably 3 years, if not longer. The Clinton Administration through The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act which was largely the product of republican efforts, gave states greater control over welfare implementation, among other provisions reducing benefits and the duration with which one could receive benefits. The class he participated in that led to a career in IT work, was the work of the republican governor Tommy Thompson, and even if the Act may have provided the funds for the program, it was largely a republican creation Clinton signed after vetoing two previous efforts at such reform. Had he vetoed this third reform bill, it could have been construed as Clinton not being serious about welfare reform and possibly affected his reelection bid.
This isn’t an effort to praise the republicans, I can assure you, I am confident that both parties almost equally do not represent the interests of most people in this country, “with some small differences” that impact the lives of some people.
The reason I mentioned the event is to highlight the creation of value based on subjective conditions and false causation. Clinton is a democrat which gives him value to my dad based on the associative value of democrats to his dad, and the identification as working class with the idea that the democrats represent the working people. Clinton was very articulate and accrued value based on what he said, as well as through personality characteristics people value in leaders. Because Clinton was in office and my dad was consuming his speeches, he credits Clinton for contributing to his success and it is his gauge of Clinton’s overall performance as president. If you ask him why he doesn’t like Reagan, he mentions that he knows how hard it was to find a job under Reagan. His position in life reinforces his political views, even though his situation in the 80s would likely have been the same under Carter or Mondale, and his situation in the 90s the same under H.W. Bush, or Bob Dole.
Before I understood anything about politics I identified as a democrat, and I would say things I had no understanding of to defend or assert the value of the party. Among those things I can remember, I would say Clinton presided over the greatest economic expansion in US history, the boom between 1990 and 2000. Of course this boom would have taken place regardless of whether or not Clinton was in office because it was largely the result of the emergence of the tech industry through the commercialization of computers and other innovation related to telecommunications and the microprocessor. Or I would bring up budget surpluses under Clinton, ignorant of the fact that the budget surpluses were the result of a surplus in the social security balance of payments which are then used to purchase treasury bonds. The surplus is the result of general economic conditions described in cause in the aforementioned, versus the number of people being paid benefits.
I didn’t understand anything about these issues, those were go to lines to promote my value of the party which began through the association of the value of my dad, his dad, and myself. My political understanding was largely the product of speeches from politicians and my preferred mainstream media. I didn’t know enough to have a political conversation, but in the right setting I could say one of those lines and seem like I possessed an understanding to other people who also didn’t possess an understanding, which is most of the population.
I imagine there are studies that confirm this kind of associative value, and if not, research can be conducted to gauge this kind of associative value, but more importantly, associative value in general. Suggestive evidence that political understanding and affiliation is largely inherited is attributable to the fact that most areas vote for the same party in every election, most notably in presidential elections. This can be ascribed to other causes, mainly the collective values of the geographical area are more consistent with one party or the other, but under any kind of examination those values can be shown to be associative, with the great majority of people having no understanding of how policy will affect their lives, and they are unable to provide any explanation beyond something they are parroting from a pundit or politician.
Not limited to marketing, not limited to politics, not limited to being from family, but most of the value people attribute to subjects has nothing to do with the inherent value of the subject in regard to the sensations it produces based on an understanding of it’s utility to advancing interests. Most of what people like, which focuses their attention, is on subjects they probably wouldn’t like if they understood the true value of these subjects in the proper context, and it has profound effects on producing the world we live in as well as consequences for states of mind on an individual basis.