How can I know?

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  • #613774

    There’s one question that really bothers me: How can I know the truth about anything? What I mean to say, is that if I am only me, and I only know my own experience in anything, then how can I know if it’s normal or not? Like happiness. Is what I am experiencing, real happiness? Or is there a more intense and genuine feeling that others feel but I don’t? Sometimes I sense that that’s the case. Then I try to figure out if I’m normal or something is missing. (Now please don’t start hocking about self-esteem….:))

    #1033814

    Joseph
    Participant

    This is an abnormal question.

    #1033815

    I’d say eftach that you can be experiencing real happiness, yet others can be even happier in at least a particular scenario. Or vice versa. Emotions are not static. The happiness one feels when one makes a $1000 is happiness, but it’s not the same as $10,000 or $100,000. Same with ruchniyus or for example simchas and life events (births).

    I feel the root of the issue is not self esteem for you ;-), but the inability to appreciate the moment. Let me say that it is very normal. Any person who has something, will naturally ponder the possibility if they had more of that thing. L’mashal, they go into a delicious restaurant and get a great dish. Meanwhile, they see other great dishes. It’s only natural to wonder if theirs was as great as the others. One learns a blatt, and its great. But they note that there is so much to learn. Maybe they didn’t do what they should have? Maybe they didn’t accomplish or experience what was real learning?

    Of course wanting to improve, wanting more good things is not bad. But by and large, a person needs to instill in themselves the greatness of the moment. One when is happy, let’em be happy. Let’em think of great state they are in. Let them thank Hashem for the kindness he has bestowed by doing something to make one happy. To analyze the potential that one’s happiness is insufficient is not not-normal but unhealthy.

    #1033816

    Nechomah
    Participant

    How can anyone else define for you what is happiness? This is an internal emotional state, so only you can define it for yourself. This isn’t a matter of self-esteem, but self-understanding. Do you feel good, have a positive emotional state, etc, other things that would be described objectively as happy? If yes, then I would say you are genuinely happy. Happiness does not mean perfection. There may still be things in your life that you want to change and that is fine. You should try to define what doubts you are having. If you are wondering if someone else would be happy in your circumstances, you should not walk down that path as no one can judge another until they stand in his shoes, which is not possible. Everyone is different. Hatzlacha!

    #1033817

    ED IT OR
    Participant

    nope, when you are happy you are experiencing what everyone-else’s neutral is, when you are sad that is others happy etc.

    you have it all backwards, try re-routing your brainwaves.

    #1033818

    ivory
    Member

    Most people arent normal!

    #1033819

    Randomex
    Member

    How can I know the truth about anything? What I mean to say, is that if I am only me, and I only know my own experience in anything, then how can I know if it's normal or not?

    You may well not be able to know. The color-blind sometimes go through much of their life not aware of the fact, and that is an issue which is easily testable.

    Example: Many of us know people who are “not quite right,” but how many of those people are aware of it?

    If you suspect others’ feelings or reactions are different from your own, perhaps you can ask them to describe them – if it sounds very different from your own experience, there may be a problem.

    Eftach, my friend, if your experience does not include what you understand from others’ descriptions to be happiness, you may want to read up on depression – perhaps Dr. Twerski’s “Getting Up When You’re Down,” which I am fairly confident could not inspire you to misdiagnose yourself.

    This question doesn’t bother you enough to interfere with living your life, does it?

    #1033820

    cozimjewish
    Member

    Honestly, I have never thought to think about such a thing. I also heard someone ask once that if something is there and no-one is there to see it, is it still there? I mean I sort of figured that, for example, your bed doesn’t just disappear during the day because you’re not there to see it and then reappear at night……And with this question as well; I mean, I just feel really good inside if I’m happy. I don’t feel the need to know if other people think I’m happy. No-one actually knows, since different people experience happiness in different ways. These abstract questions (to put it nicely) always confuse me.

    #1033821

    cinderella
    Member

    It’s kind of like the sight thing. I call the sky blue. I have been taught since I was a child that the sky and things that are the same color are called “blue”. We’ve all been taught that. So you call the sky and similarly colored things blue as well. But maybe you’re really seeing what I know as yellow. Maybe our eyes interpret the colors differently but we’ve all been shown the same objects and taught their colors. But our colors could all be different.

    But there is no way to know. You can only know what you’re seeing and what you’re feeling. And to compare wouldn’t work. Because we all define happiness based on how we’ve been taught happiness feels. So when you were an infant and someone gave you a cookie and said “Now aren’t you happy?”, you learned that whatever you were feeling then was happiness. And that it feels good. But that could be completely different from what I was feeling.

    And this could go on forever. We can doubt everything we know and feel. But there’s nothing we can do about it.

    #1033822

    yytz
    Participant

    Don’t worry about whether you are “normal.” Don’t compare yourself to other people (see some of the recent books of R’ Shalom Arush for a lot of material on this, for example Garden of Knowledge (or is it Wisdom)). Everyone has their own challenges. If you think perhaps you could be happier, then try to increase your joy. Pray for it, try to cultivate joy in the present moment, read books about emunah, etc.

    #1033823

    Randomex
    Member

    1)

    I think maybe we’ve focused too much on the “happiness” example.

    Still, I’ll say this. Eftach, you can think about what you believe makes a person happy, and if you think you feel as good as you should in the situation you’re in (although the way you look at yourself and your situation makes a big difference in happiness, so take that into account). See also Yytz’s post.

    2)

    I also heard someone ask once that if something is there and no-one is there to see it, is it still there?

    The answer science (and possibly Kabbalah) gives for that question might surprise you.

    3)

    Maybe our eyes interpret the colors differently but we've all been shown the same objects and taught their colors. But our colors could all be different. But there is no way to know. You can only know what you're seeing and what you're feeling.

    Certainly an interesting concept, but I came up with a way to determine if this is occurring on a large scale.

    Certain colors are known to have certain psychological effects – if we assume that our brains’ emotional responses to “objective” colors are uniform, then if enough of us were not seeing the same colors the same way, this could not have been an observable phenomenon. Rather, it would have been observed that not all people have the same emotional responses to color (though it is likely that such a phenomenon still exists between cultures that use various colors in different ways).

    The concept is probably still useful in philosophical thought, though.

    4)

    Does anyone know the name of the concept that we never physically experience something, only our sensual perception of that thing?

    (Unless perhaps during an out-of-body/near-death experience…)

    #1033824

    Randomex,

    What’s the answer science gives to that question?

    #1033825

    Okay- wow. It’s so nice to hear such insightful thoughts from intelligent and considerate people. (Lior- that was for you too…)

    Daniel Q- You’re right. Guess I’m sacrificing the moment for my big scale dreams, which means I might not achieve those either.

    ivory- What does normal mean?

    Randomex, my friend, I know people who are a little “off” too. I’m not talking about anything obvious (eye roll, ‘cuz my pride just got slightly dented). It’s something really subtle, something that’s taking me years (!!!) to put my finger on. None of my friends know what I’m talking about when I allude to any of this feeling like something is not quite right.

    “This question doesn’t bother you enough to interfere with living your life, does it?” (sorry, I didn’t figure out how to use italics here)- Well, what do you call living? If you looked at my resume or observed my daily life or had to give shidduch info on me, then no. But if living means richly, being ALIVE in the fullest sense of the word, then yeh, boy does it.

    Cozimjewish- “Honestly, I have never thought to think about such a thing.”- Can’t say I’m not jealous.

    “I don’t feel the need to know if other people think I’m happy.”- It’s got nothing to do with what other people think.

    Thanks Cinderella and yytz.

    #1033826

    cozimjewish
    Member

    Ok then I obviously completely misunderstood you! Sorry! But then I guess I still don’t get your question

    #1033827

    I mean I don’t do things for other people. Farkert- I wish that what I express externally would be genuine. My question is, is it or not? no problem, btw. Thanks for responding.:)

    #1033828

    cinderella
    Member

    Certain colors are known to have certain psychological effects – if we assume that our brains’ emotional responses to “objective” colors are uniform, then if enough of us were not seeing the same colors the same way, this could not have been an observable phenomenon.

    The thing with color psychology is that it could definitely be affected by factors such as personal preference and experiences, culture and whatnot. But then I Googled and read about it for a while and some people say what I am and some say it’s a consistent physiological reaction. So I don’t know. But I never thought about that so thank you.

    #1033829

    Sam2
    Participant

    Ah, existentialism.

    #1033830

    cinderella
    Member

    Does anyone know the name of the concept that we never physically experience something, only our sensual perception of that thing?

    (Unless perhaps during an out-of-body/near-death experience…)

    George Berkeley’s theory of immaterialism?

    #1033831

    Patur Aval Assur
    Participant

    “Does anyone know the name of the concept that we never physically experience something, only our sensual perception of that thing?”

    Berkeley’s idealism.

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