Some dogs will bite without a reason. They will do so not because they are trained so. Rather their environment puts so much stress on them that they do not distinguish us from any other environmental threat. For these dogs, we are just another threat, so it bites us in order to protect itself.
These are unhappy dog. A happy dog would never bite, except maybe playfully. Happy dogs don’t have a reason to be aggressive. In principle they have everything they needs. Even a fed lion will not kill, not even for sports.
Thus, if we put a biting dog into a calm and safe environment, and give it enough time to calm down, this dog will stop biting. Again, the dog can still bite, but only if it feels threatened, such as if we try to touch it too promptly.
I guess you know where I am going with all this. Specifically, the same behavior we can observe in humans. Some humans are aggressive and negative because of their environment. But, if we can put them into a safe environments they will calm down and become happy.
This is consistent with the work of behaviorist F. J. Skinner who argued that people behave differently in different environments. Indeed, we are different people in every moment, depending on whats happening in that moment. As such, we can never truly claim to know ourselves, as if the environment changes, so will we.
In this way, in a society based on behaviorism model, we don’t need to look at people’s state of mind, personality, or personal goals to understand their behaviors. All we need to understand their environments. In turn, to make a better world, all we need to do is to improve these environments.
We no longer need to incentivize people with rewards and punishment. We trust that in a right environment people will automatically correct their behavior by their accord. For example, for these of us who are trying to quit smoking, all we need to do is to avoid people, situations, and environments conducive to smoking. Change an environment to change behavior, so to say.
So when some people ask me why it is so hard to be happy one thing I look at is their environmental. At first look, everything may look perfectly normal, at least to them. Of course, they have lived as long as they did and they did their best to be happy, but they don’t see their own blindspots.
One big blind spot, for example, is stress cause by driving (for these who have cars). Indeed, driving is considered to be one of the most stressful activities out there. Stress comes from a constant need to be alert to the dangers of high speed driving, other peoples driving, traffic jams, safety of the vehicle, are so on. Too many things that can go wrong, which can cause a lot of stress. And this is only one of example where our environment affects our happiness.
And while we can look at life in general terms, and say “alright, if driving can make us stressed and unhappy, than everything can have the same effect”. And while this is true, some environmental aspects of our lives will cause us more stress than others. Environments will affect people differently, such as some people will not event be aware of the stress of driving, while others will get a joy out of it. Still, at least a basic awareness of what causes us stress and unhappiness is a great first step towards happiness. And free information like this will make our lives better and happier.
Lastly, if you likes this post please let me know so, by commenting, sharing, and following my blog. All these small gestures will go far towards my motivation to continue creating content like this. Stay happy!