I shall start by quoting a letter that I sent to the New Scientist magazine in 1994:
In the edition of May 28th you published a letter from Alison Brooks saying that there are people who believe that the general level of happiness can be raised by the improvement of social conditions. Don’t such people realise that improvements of this sort can only make people happier until the novelty wears off and the new conditions become the norm?
The only way that the average level of happiness can be raised in the long term is by discovering the physical or chemical processes that underlie changes of mood and learning to control them. If ever this happens it will be, quite simply, the greatest discovery in the history of the world.
This is the only major appearance in print of a principle that has dominated my life since I was at school and to which I have given the name Jesty’s Law. This states that the range of pleasant and unpleasant experiences that make up life is unaffected in the long term by changes in circumstances. This seems obvious to me, and yet time and time again I find evidence that nobody else is thinking along the same lines.
In the second chapter of Happy Memories I wrote that the last two verses of the poem ‘Little by Little’ describe my ambitions and my subsequent efforts to bring them to fruition. These include the words
‘And one of these days, perhaps we’ll see
That the world will be the better for me.’
As I grow older it becomes less and less likely that these lines will ever apply to me. Now the only hope is that people will link this blog to their own websites until it comes to the attention of people with influence.
I don’t know how the average level of happiness can be raised, but I believe that if enough people apply themselves to the problem it will eventually be solved. This has happened over and over again throughout history. A classic example is the prediction by Gordon Moore in 1975 that from that time onwards computer power would double about every two years, which means that it would increase by a factor of about a thousand every twenty years. In 1988 my word processor had a capacity of 256 kilobytes. In 2021 my computer has a capacity of a thousand gigabytes This means that the capacity has increased by a factor of four million in thirty-three years, which is very close to Moore’s prediction. How could he possibly have known about this in 1975? The answer is that people were aware of Moore’s prediction and made it come true. I believe that if enough people knew about my ideas on mood control they might eventually learn to improve the average level of happiness throughout the world for millions of years to come.
One particular change I would like to see is a reduction in the time that people spend thinking about things they dislike when they know that these things are unimportant. I have suffered from this all my life, and I am sure that everyone else has too, although the things that other people dislike are quite different from the things that I dislike. In my 16th blog I mentioned the saying ‘The love of money is the root of all evil.’ I would have thought that the fact that different people dislike different things was at least as much a source of evil as the love of money.