In addition to being the Geeking Cool blogger, Geeking Cool Mainframe Tweeter, comic and fiction writer, occasional poet, husband, father, and many other things; I am also something of a philosopher. It is my opinion that philosophers were the first geeks ever. After all, it is from the minds of the ancient Greeks that physics was born. Therefore, I am going to start making philosophy at least a semi-regular feature of the Geeking Cool blog. I would really like to hear from our readers after each post also.

Not too long ago I was doing a lot of thinking on the nature of happiness. We all seek to live happy lives and it is my thought that this would be a lot easier to achieve if we had a full understanding of happiness. What is happiness? What makes us feel it? Can we self-generate it? And all of this thinking about happiness brought me to a startling epiphany.

The Happy Little Island

Imagine, if you will, an island in the middle of the ocean. On this island exists a civilization that has never had contact with the outside world and knows nothing of its troubles. Furthermore, none of the world’s problems exist on the island. There is no war, poverty, hunger, racism, sexism, homophobia, disease, or hate. There is a perfect mate for everyone, no one has to work, and the weather is always perfect. In short, there is no suffering or knowledge of suffering on this island what-so-ever.

As I imagined this paradise and the people of it, I asked myself “Are these people happy”? By rights, they should be. I mean, if this island actually existed we would be packing our bags for one way trips. Yet, the answer I came to was “No, these people are not happy”. That is not to say that they are unhappy though. Instead, this civilization lives this absolutely perfect existence simply as a day-to-day routine without a true appreciation for it.

What This Means

In order for this civilization to understand how incredibly well off they are, they would at least need a knowledge of suffering. Even something as simple as a visitor from an outside civilization arriving and telling them what life is like for the rest of us. The resulting sympathy, a mild form of suffering, would make them realize just how good things were in their paradise. That’s right, in order for anyone to experience happiness they must also experience suffering.

This may seem like a bum deal and it kind of it. However, understanding this fact opens up some opportunities. First, we can start to look at bad situations and affirm to ourselves that we are feeling suffering now so that we can experience happiness later. Second, we can start to appreciate the happy times in our life more. Third, we are one step closer to understanding happiness and creating it in our own lives.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Please stay posted for my next philosophical article that explores what happiness is. Until then, weigh in with your comments. Do you agree or disagree with my conclusion that we must suffer in order to experience happiness? Why or why not?