Can a person finally be happy? Yuval Noah Harari, historian and author of the world’s best-selling Sapiens. “Homo Deus” and “21 Lessons for the 21st Century”, believes that there is a certain glass ceiling that does not allow humanity to break through to happiness, even if all diseases in the world completely disappear, there will be no wars and no one else will have to take care of their daily bread. All the same, achieving true happiness will not be easier than gaining eternal youth and immortality. Improved living conditions lead to higher expectations, and increasingly sophisticated ways are required to fully satisfy people.
Pleasant sensations in animals arise at the moment when the chances of reproduction increase (when finding a pair, for example, or raising the status in the hierarchy of the pack).
A well-known experiment with rats, when scientists brought electrodes to their brains to stimulate the pleasure center. When the rat pressed a special pedal, the electrodes in her brain were stimulated and she felt bliss. Soon the rats forgot about food and water, and pressed the pedal endlessly until they collapsed from exhaustion and hunger.
So a person, in pursuit of pleasures, is looking for more and more pleasant sensations: womanizers chase every skirt and enjoy their quick victories, but not for long – the next day they need a new love adventure. Gamblers and businessmen, having won money or concluding a good deal, feel joy, but very soon their achievements become something habitual, and a new stimulus is required, just like rats had to press the pedal all the time. Expectations have adapted to the conditions, and now the happiness has disappeared.
Maybe Epicurus was right, says Harari, when he proposed combining passion with moderation?
But a modern man, and even more so – a man of the future is unlikely to follow this path. Rather, he will invent a pedal – with the help of medications or direct stimulation of the brain, he will manipulate his biochemistry in such a way that he will completely rebuild both the mind and the body so that he will not experience either stress or boredom. Homo sapiens of the future will make a complete upgrade of their obsolete version, so that they can enjoy their happiness forever.
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