People spend a lot of time being unhappy, and the science of this is pretty neat – but what I’m interested in is why happiness, the idea of contentment, is such a big deal in the first place. The idea of “Good Enough” is a fairy-tale. True satisfaction (by which I mean having everything you both want and need) drives away the sense of human purpose and leads to total stagnation.
Recurring feelings of satisfaction are awesome – and even more so when genuine. No one can argue this, but the consistant feeling of lack-of-immediate-need is very destructive. Hedonism is an addiction, and falling toward the apotheosis of joy can turn you into either a useless junkie, never being productive beyond what’s necessary to feed the fix (think druggies, and I should know). Or, you go the other direction, and stop chasing happy entirely because it’s seen as an unachievable goal.
The trouble with this can be simple; striving for constant and consistent joy is a pointless endeavour; it’s carrot and stick behaviour that leaves you feeling drained and discouraged. The trick is to keep achieving goals that are scalable – go to the grocery store, then worry about buying groceries. Having a list helps, but stressing over whether bananas are in season at home, before you get into the car, is an exercise in quantum futility.
The only practice worth exploring is creating dreams that line up with your actions, the way the threads of a zipper line up when the tug is pulled. It seems a bit overly simplistic to say this, but dreaming on your actions is perhaps more realistic than acting on your dreams. By this I mean, set yourself goals that will scale. Don’t worry about getting famous by being an writer; treat fame as a measure of your writing. The doing of the work is important, but the dream never comes if the work is never done. Work first, succeed next, enjoy the success last – because once you’re successful, you need to find new ways to stay in the place that puts you. No point making a million dollars if you spend it all and never make another dime.
I wonder how some people avoid the feeling of never catching up. How do you keep moving forward without feeling like you’re reaching for something just outside your range, that also keeps moving as you do? How do you place your goals, and then make your actions fit them?