Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

IFD Disease and the "Happiness Formula"

Academic journal article ETC.: A Review of General Semantics

IFD Disease and the "Happiness Formula"

Article excerpt

Should we "dream the impossible dream" or "dream the possible dream"? Does lowering our expectations mean making unacceptable compromises--and giving up?

Excessive idealism and perfectionism can lead to frustration and stagnation. Instead of moving toward our goals, we may move away, or reject them.

Does lowering our expectations and ideals amount to giving up? Not if we choose appropriate expectations for ourselves.

But in order to set appropriate goals, we must give up habits of perfectionism and idealism. How can we do that? Consider the following articles that present an extensional approach to these questions.

The Extensional Theory of Happiness, Alfred Korzybski

Changing Assumptions in order to Change Behavior: The Logical Fate Diagram, Alfred Korzybski with M. Kendig

The IFD Disease, Wendell Johnson

The Happiness Formula, Harry L. Weinberg

IFD disease: Korzybski's Happiness Formula, Robert P. Pula


REMEMBER OUR extensional bargain. When I say something, you should index it. You must do this to limit it to the context in which I say it. My statements, and any statements, are worthless verbiage when taken out of their context, out of the 'environment' in which they were said and made operative. By indexing statements, not only words, you are prepared for this. To give you an example of this I will give you an extensional theory of happiness. That theory is in a way final because it is based only on extensional clarifications and I may add that the diagram of happiness, which I will show you, has high psychotherapeutic value and by now is used by some psychiatrists with patients. Remember, quotation marks are used to cover 'facts' in their contexts too. 'Facts' themselves mean nothing, but only in a context are they valuable. 'Facts' in a context, meaning a situation, etc., have value.

A combination of relationships that applies to what we say constitutes the context of 'fact' and gives it meaning or values. The interrelation of relation in a context gives 'fact' its value. If you don't consider these relationships of the context, the 'facts' mean nothing (no value). Well, here then we have a number of facts in quotation marks, and then comes our problem of evaluation, individual or the one which was given to us which ultimately turns out to involve expectation based on some standards of values. This is the happiness formula again. Remember that this analysis is only possible by extension. By intension you could not do it.

This [is] already an application of extensional method. Now here comes our expectations. Here are some 'fact[s],' any kind of 'facts' ('F'). I call the new, expectation[.sub.2] ([E.sub.2]). Remember that this analysis can be made only by extension, not by intension. Now, you expect, in regard to the facts of life, say, 'nothing' (minimum). That is you are told to expect minimum. What will we find in actual life? You will find the facts better than you expected. Remember you were taught to expect the minimum. You will find that the facts in life will actually be better because you expected nothing. Then your reactions or evaluations would be "'facts' are better than expected," that will react on the living you, encouraging you, etc., to happier living. Say I expect five students here and find seventy-five. I got more than I expected. The interest is better. The facts are better than I expected. And I am happy then. I feel like working ahead in the world where I expect five and get seventy-five. This applies to every one of you, in every phase of life. If you expect, say 'nothing,' in the actual living, bumping against facts, impact with the environment, you will find the facts better than you expected. You will be encouraged. You will not be cynical; you will not be bitter; etc. Life then will be happier for you as living protoplasm reacting to the impact of the environment. …

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