I just got off the phone with my best friend between airports while flying back from an annual family reunion in beautiful Northern Michigan. In conclusion, everything sucks. As he would point out every third sentence or so, it’s all so “Buddhist.” Man suffers from three desires. The desire to want. The desire to become. The desire to not become (have fun untangling that one).
Beyond life highs that can last for up to a month (circa me moving to Santa Monica), how can one sustain any permanent upgrade to happiness and well-being? Most of us fall prey to the hedonic adaptation hamster wheel, where any sort of material, sensual, or experimental pleasure seems to have a decreased half-life from one to the next (Super Size me, bitch). Have you ever noticed that you are entirely convinced you’ll be happy when X happens, but as soon as you achieve X you’ve already set your mind to Y. Hell, if I had a dime for every story I’ve heard about some guy or Gold Medalist Olympian getting depressed after they achieved something great, I’d be able to afford a better WordPress theme here.
We see those who have achieved greatness and aspire to be like them, but what we really want is the FEELING we THINK we will have once we’ve become them, only to realize that next level comes with its own cold bag of issues to deal with, rendering you pretty much on equal footing from where you started. Let’s take me for example. I complain that I have to throw away the packaging for my weekly meal delivery. The fact that I don’t have to shop, cook, clean up, etc. is lost on me from a happiness standpoint. I can already see myself having a personal chef (hey, despite what I’m pontificating here, we should all dream big) and complaining that I have to be cordial with him while he invades my personal space and privacy. I will NOT pardon your reach!
This all leaves us with the dilemma: if you know the next place you want to be, be it more money or fame, won’t solve your happiness or fulfillment issues, why bother to do anything at all? The best answer I currently have is to optimize for creativity, contribution, and community – or the three C’s I’ve just coined. Have a way to express yourself and be who you truly. Find a way to shift your focus and efforts to helping others, big or small, online or offline. And lastly, we are social creatures who literally suffer dire health consequences when we are socially isolated. Find your tribe, and in this case, offline is preferred (I’ll spare us the why Social Media Sucks in this post since that’s trite at this point). Isn’t it funny how people spend money to separate themselves from other humans? Think gated communities, homes up on the hill but short on neighbors, removing roommates, private or home gyms, etc. We then spend our money chasing a sense of belonging by going on high-end plush retreats or Burning Man. How paradoxical we are, spending our health to attain money, then later using our money to regain our health.
So, sure, keep aspiring and pursuing dreams but remember, wherever you go, there you are. All we REALLY have is the NOW, and our memories, and Instagram Likes.