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No worries, mate

The Futile Pursuit of Happiness is a fascinating article about our inability as humans to predict what will make us happy (and unhappy). Research shows that we tend to greatly overestimate the impact of changes in our life, whether those changes are perceived to be positive or negative. In fact, we always adapt. Our system is always working to regulate us to be in a middle ground.

I think that's one big lesson that I learned in MA (marijuana anonymous). It was a little confusing at first in MA meetings when people would fondly describe how their lives have become more even: their lows weren't so low, and their highs weren't so high. I thought, cool your lows aren't so low, but don't you still want your highs to be high? Isn't life boring if it's all even? The lesson for me was that life is never really boring. There's always drama, there's always challenges, there's always changes to adapt to. The important lesson is that you can handle anything as long as "you are present". If you avoid reality with drugs (and other distractions) then you will always be struggling, battling to avoid reality, desperately trying to avoid the lows and chase the highs. But if you face reality, it's not as bad as you fear. The flip side is that it's also not as good as you hope.

And perhaps the fundamental lesson is to be grateful for what you've got, here and now. These hopes and fears of the future don't really help us. They might occupy our minds and our time, but they don't actually help us to be happier people.

The zen approach is to accept things as they are, work with what you've got, and make the most of the present. Because that's all you've got.

September 9, 2003 in Life, Science | Permalink


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