The Persuit of Happiness and the Hill-Climbing Problem

It seems that for a lot of people, perhaps the vast majority, they cannot expect to be 100% happy all the time. Even those incredibly successful celebrities and incredibly rich CEOs and politicians are not happy 100% of the time.

So is it a good idea to seek 100% happiness right away? Or should we always try and select the ‘least worst’ situation? If we keep making progress and optimse our happiness levels through constantly selecting the ‘least worst’ situation whenever we have a descision then it seems to me we will maximise our happiness potential in the long run.

Once we have reached the plateau of happiness for our chosen path though, and we are not getting any happier or there is no way to continue improving our happiness, then the only way of potentially improving our happiness is to do something radical and leap to another approach.

For those with training in A.I. or optimisation algorithms, I see this conceptually as see this as a hill-climbing local optimsation plateau problem. You can optimise locally your happiness level, but you need to take a risk when you have plateau’d in your happiness along your current path, to do something completely different and jump to another hill which might offer a higher level of happiness in the long run, although it may not. The amount of risk you take is dependant on the knowledge you have (the heuristics) that the next ‘hill’ or path you take will lead to a better outcome. But.. if it won’t, and all the paths available to you have been analysed, and you will not make yourself happier, you have won at the happiness problem. You are the happiest you can make yourself and no amount of seeking happiness improvements in your life will help.

This can be extended to job hopping, relationships.. of course there is an amount of risk as we never have a perfect heuristic but the concept is the same. Through constantly hopping hills and constantly seeking 100% happiness you can make yourself less happy than you thought. Maybe you were never born to be 100% happy? Maybe none of us ever were, we can just do the best with the oppertunities we were given.

I don’t know if I explained it well but this does a better job: