All content copyright © 2010-2019 Frank Revelo
Happiness is the goal or purpose of life. Overall happiness is a composite of spiritual happiness (residing in the higher rational mind) and soul happiness (residing in the lower instinctual mind). Spirit dominates soul in humans (and soul dominates in animals). Soul happiness is closely linked to the body, the body is loosely linked to the material world, and the material world is very loosely linked to the spirits of other people. Thus blessings which contribute to happiness may be listed in order:
Wisdom, or control of the spirit, is the highest blessing, where wisdom is assumed to mean both understanding plus the mental self-discipline to put this understanding to good use. Lack of wisdom, or mental illness, is the greatest curse. Lack of wisdom allows for overall unhappiness (depression) despite every other blessing imaginable, whereas high wisdom allows for overall happiness despite every other curse imaginable (the martyr who smiles and is happy as he is tortured to death). Lack of wisdom also allows for other blessings to be squandered.
Bodily health is the next highest blessing, since lack of bodily health usually means bodily pain, and bodily pain is essentially the definition of soul unhappines. In animals, bodily health would be a better choice than wisdom, because lack of wisdom doesn't have the dire consequences in animals as in humans, nor can wisdom compensate for bodily pain in animals as it sometimes can in humans, due to the much weaker spiritual nature in animals.
Wealth is the least of blessings, and a fool's choice, though given both wisdom and bodily health, wealth would be the next blessing to ask for. Power is interchangeable with wealth. Both imply control over the material world.
Fame, or the opinion of other people, is the booby prize, sought by and awarded to those who play the game of life most incompetently. It isn't even clear that fame is a blessing at all. That is, adding fame to wisdom, bodily health and wealth/power may well reduce rather than increase happiness. Being loved and respected by other people and having high social status are all interchangeable with fame.
Note that we are speaking here of fame itself, rather than fame which affects the material world and thereby the body. The latter type of fame is useful as a means to wealth/power and thus should be considered in the wealth/power category. A good reputation, which allows a person to get a well-paying job, is an example of useful fame which translates to money/power and thus should be considered in the money/power category. Compare with posthumous fame, which cannot possibly translate to money/power, and hence is an example of fame in itself.
True fame (what other people really think of us) and false fame (what we think they think of us) are indistinguishable, because fame can only be known indirectly. If false fame (delusions of grandeur) can be conjured up in our mind at will and sustained indefinitely, and such false fame gives rise to happiness, then it is tantamount to wisdom. However, this is a roundabout approach to happiness compared with reprogramming the mind no longer derive happiness from fame or unhappiness from the lack thereof. Roundabout approaches are more likely to fail.
Because happiness depends more on spirit than body and other aspects of the material world in humans, and because spirit is more easily malleable than matter, initial focus should be on controlling the spiritual element, by becoming wise and mentally self-disciplined, so as to raise spiritual happiness to a permanent high level. After that, focus on making the body healthy. After that, focus on control over the material world beyond the body.