“It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied”

By John Stuart Mill, from his book “Utilitarianism”

This is a quite famous quote from John Stuart Mill, but I had never thought deeply about it. However, recently I started reading his book, Utilitarianism, and found this quote extremely thought-provoking.

Here is another extract from the book.

It is indisputable that the being whose capacities of enjoyment are low, has the greatest chance of having them fully satisfied; and a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect.

Stupid people are happier than those who are educated? It seems to be true in some way, because if you don’t know about anything that has been going on around the world and only care about your own life, there is only one thing you need to do ; making yourself happy. However, once you learn that the clothes you’re wearing were the product of harsh child labor, or driving your car to work is polluting the environment, you become aware of your social responsibility. You are not the only one in this world and because you are not the only one, your actions which are supposed to make you happy might harm others. Knowledge prevents you from purely being happy.

I have interests in politics, history, economics and social sciences in general, but sometimes I have an impression that the more I learn, the more hopeless I become. I feel completely useless because our society seems like a huge mass of complex problems and there is no way to solve them all. I feel I’d rather just focus on my own life and making myself happy, because it is much easier.

However, I believe that my life is not only about satisfying myself, in other words, be a pig satisfied. Being born as a human being with a capacity to think, I will continue learning. Although the knowledge may cause fear/sadness/suffering, all these negative emotions are what make happiness really valuable.

Being a pig might be easier, but that is not what my life is for. I will be a human being dissatisfied, in order to make my life enriching and hopefully, appreciate true value happiness among anguish.

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