Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margin

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The Voice of Time
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Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margin

Post by The Voice of Time »

In finance it is possible to grow a company based on leverage instead of profit margins, something which can cause the company to merely appear to do better than it does, as what is not taken into account is that the backlash of the leverage is potentially as big as the gains, whereas profit margins stands for gains only and increase in gains.

I'm wondering, what if the occasional happiness that most of us experiencing life through both small and great losses and small and great gains, is normally mostly leverage. That we are increasing the amount of things that can affect us, and in so doing we are potentially getting more ways in which we can be both happy and sad... for somebody experiencing sadness a lot, leverage can cause great quick flourishing because of a feeling (which I would claim is irrational) of gain, while it is not guaranteed that this gain is gonna be greater than the costs that follows with it.

I think there's really something to do this idea, and I think it would, for a philosopher, be a good question as to whether we should view our actions in a new light to try and search for those profit margins and not just the leverage, the perceived gain. It might be compared to the old short-sighted versus long-term view, but I think there's more to it than such. I think that at some times it's not merely about how far ahead we plan our actions, but about how certain we are that those actions actually will materialize in profits and not just another (generically speaking) debt to be paid, or a backlash to be faced.

Will those actions we take lead us to a position that elevates the sense of happiness and flourishing we have about our lives in the long term? Or will those actions bring an uncertain, unstable and/or complicating future? So back to the title: maybe we should start asking ourselves -> is it leveraging or is it profit-seeking those actions we undertake?
Ned
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by Ned »

I have a theory about happiness that approaches the concept from a different angle:

I call it 'Needs' versus 'Wants'.

It is important to differentiate our needs from our wants. I define ‘Needs’ as those requirements commonly identified with survival of the individual as a healthy (both physically and mentally) self-aware biological entity living in a society of his own species.

I define ‘Wants’ as those requirements that are not essential for survival—they are mere luxuries that can enhance one’s zest for life, the flavor of one’s existence, but there would be no serious negative consequence to life and health if they were denied.

Of course, I realize that I just opened a can of worms. You pick a hundred human beings and you get a hundred different answers as to where to draw the line between needs and wants . It is impossible to come up with a sharply drawn boundary. It is also unnecessary (I remember reading about a mother who used a drug-store precision scale to divide a chocolate bar exactly equally for her two children). There are a number of things on which everyone can readily agree. We can say that food is a need and a diamond necklace is a want.

In a functioning society based on organized production, we have no difficulty describing food, housing, clothing, medical help, education, transportation and communication as needs. Luxury yachts, ten rooms per person mansions, gold serving dishes, half-million-dollar cars, etc would be described by most people as mere wants.

So, if we start out at the extremes and proceed systematically towards the middle, somewhere in a zone of not-being-quite-sure-any-more, we can draw our line arbitrarily.

We don’t have to quibble. As far as I am concerned, we can draw the line anywhere in that zone. We would have made enormous progress.

If I try to make a list of my own basic needs, I come up with the following:

Personal needs: Food, Clothes, Home, Energy, Medical help, Meaningful work, Exercise, Sleep, Rest, Privacy, Play, Beauty, Nature, Animals. Social needs: Mate, Family, Friends, Community, Transportation, Communication, Education, Entertainment, Justice, Interdependence. I am sure I missed a few but I believe that all my really essential needs are there.

If I had a life that satisfied all these needs in balance and harmony, I know I would be a contented person. And it is very important to differentiate between ‘contended’ and ‘happy’.

We often feel happy when we are excited, thrilled, having a ‘high’ of some form. This feeling ‘high’ can be stimulated by artificial means (like drugs, alcohol, sky-diving, etc.) that are not real needs.

And the consumerist capitalistic system cashes in on this artificial addiction to ‘excitement’ and ‘thrills’. Not only cashes in, but actively promoting it via TV and other media ads.

I think it is important to satisfy our needs in a good balance. Most people have a lot of some and almost nothing of others.

Many have almost no meaningful work, even though they spend most of their time at a place where they are supposed to have lots. They have practically no time for exercise, play, beauty.

Many also don’t have any really close friends; no community to speak of, hardly any time for education and entertainment. This isn’t the life most people would choose.

Our lives are shaped more by convention, social pressure, inertia and accidents than by intelligent planning.

In this sense, we are truly 'created' in god's image.
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

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The first half didn't really address the topic (for which I both disagree and agree with, mostly disagreeing about your interpretation of need which is counter-existential and overly Darwinian, and of course at odds with my own work of philosophy on my idea of a science of needs, but that's another story), but you did make a point about it in the later part.

While I'd say I carefully agree, it is also a bit too much of a focus on short-term versus long-term... It's not just about having brief happiness, which seems to be what you are really saying, versus long-term. You could have a long-term plan which shows a lot of happiness, and you don't need to have more unhappiness than happiness, but the profit margins may be "low", or "insignificant" or "inferior".

You might choose to make a normal life, only to find out that a normal life consists of a lot of hardship and struggle and personal investment coupled with those opportunities you have of happiness, and as such the profit margins may be very low, or without knowing you may be running a slight loss. A simple example, in terms of hours spent, could show for instance that in the majority of your grown up life you are spending it on transportation and work that is not particularly fun. So even if you come home to a "happy family" you are paying a lot of time and effort in maintaining your everyday life as a whole; despite a hugely nice product you still have to pay a hugely badass bill, both metaphorically and depending on your actual economy you may also be living a life where the cost of living is quite huge compared to the salary you get.

One spot where you do focus more on what I mean is when you mention "no time for exercise, play, beauty..." about work, because that's a typical situation when something is overly costing but not enough rewarding, and in business terms we'd might want to look at that and see if we can't make some adjustments so as to decrease the cost (do something in a less unstimulative and hard way) and increase the gain (give opportunities for joy and self-enhancement).
Last edited by The Voice of Time on Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Ned
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by Ned »

The issue of 'short-term' versus 'long-term' is a difficult one.

It suggests possible sacrifices (lack of harmony) in the short term to increase the potential gain in the long-term and thus raising the average.

A lot of people subscribe to this philosophy (and a lot of people encourage it -- a.k.a waving a carrot) but it can result in, and often lead to, permanently living in the future and ignoring the present. Many people ruin their lives (and the happiness of their loved ones) this way.

In my mind balance and harmony is the best strategy for sustainable happiness.
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by The Voice of Time »

Well I'd have to say that I disagree about balance and harmony, as happiness comes from doing things that we enjoy, and that balance and harmony is just a way to avoid happiness and loss altogether, in a way becoming the stereotype of Stoics.

People who constantly balance things would never be able to take the steps necessary to ascend, they would remain backwards. You might expect that there's a simple formula for balancing this as well, that you take sufficient steps, however, it's more complicating than that, as if you start from a low place, which all people from the present and past potentially do (with respect to an ascended future), the risk you have to expose yourself to in order to ascend would be higher because the gains would be much higher (the potential gains would be much higher). In turn comparing it to business, you might consider it the lucrative start of a market, which after being economized will slowly have smaller and smaller profit margins as it matures and the most accessible market aspects have been mostly discovered.

In the same way human beings and society at large would need to take huge risk in the beginning, far from anything "balanced". If they sought balance they would miss out on a lot of opportunities. Compare it to being to obsessed with figuring out how to spend your money instead of spending it.

As for harmony the same problem goes. You have to accept chaos, because you can never harmonize the entire universe at once, and so you can build a "harmonized core", but you would have to expose yourself in portions at a time to the chaos of the world so as to slowly cultivate it into your realm of harmony.
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by Ned »

I would say that the existing unbalance in the human species today is matched by the unhappiness on the same scale that we can observe today.

There may be a connection.

Or, would you say that the starvation of millions of children on this planet is a small price to pay for 'ascendency' (and the obesity-epidemic among American children)?

I don't think you meant that.
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by The Voice of Time »

Obviously I see no ascending in that, no ^^ Beyond me why you would mention it.
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by Ned »

I knew you didn't.

I merely wanted to illustrate the parallel between imbalance and unhappiness on the global scale.
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margi

Post by bobevenson »

Ned wrote: I have a theory about happiness that approaches the concept from a different angle: I call it 'Needs' versus 'Wants'.
As Mick Jagger wrote, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need."
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Re: Happiness as a Question of Leverage and Not Profit Margin

Post by Advocate »

Success is having a bespoke life.
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