Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I don't live to feel good or be happy

I don't live to feel good or be happy, and I think that anyone who does is disgusting. Happiness is a short-lived (sometimes lasting only a few seconds) mental sensation which, because of the reward pathways in the brain, creates a false perception of value. When the sensation dissipates, like any other addict, we immediately want more of it, and will stop at nothing until we have more, regardless of how irrational and paltry all of the little moments that we define as "good" ultimately are. This, in turn, facilitates the dichotomy of actual mental and physical sensations on the one hand, and the perception of those sensations as desirable ideals on the other. Incidentally, the perceptions are themselves generated by what are essentially false memories that do their best to "sell" experiences as things we'd enjoyed more than we really did while they were occurring. Clearly, then, we spend a preposterously tiny portion of our lives being happy -- a third of life is spent asleep, and most of the rest of the time is dedicated to the chase that eventually ends in those few seconds or minutes of satisfaction.

Desire is problematic for what I perceive to be fairly obvious reasons, but if you'd care to know more about why mindlessly filling a figurative pool over and over again is stupid, I have a story called "A desire has never been fulfilled for anyone" that you should check out (hint: if a problem that you're experiencing only goes away when you tend to it in finite intervals, and comes back almost immediately after you've cleaned up the mess, then you're perpetuating the problem, probably for selfish psychological reasons related to feelings of accomplishment -- not fixing it).

Regardless of the efficacy of repetitiously consuming and experiencing as regards the fulfillment of our desires, keep the following in mind: Everything that we crave results from deprivation. If we ignore our cravings for long enough -- especially those most directly beneficial to the maintenance of our bodies to the end of producing genetic copies of ourselves -- then the deprivations grow. Thus, in addition to faulty perceptions facilitated by the brain's reward pathways, we also experience a kind of natural punishment for failing to procure the things necessary to temporarily satisfy our urges. Does punishment for not obtaining something that fails to cure your problems make any kind of rational sense?

1. No organism has ever survived; there is no such thing as survival of the fittest. Nature doesn't care about survival of organisms; it cares about survival of genes, which almost always means reproduction.

2. Happiness is ephemeral, intermittent, and a persistent attempt at filling deprivations created by our biology; these deprivations only exist to keep us interested in our environment long enough to reproduce. If the environment, in lacking intelligence, fails to provision us with nourishment of various kinds, then we suffer tremendously as our deprivations deepen.

Given the above, it should be obvious that our enjoyment of life is not only meaningless in the long run, but also nothing more than a way to stave off horrific suffering. Taking a so-called "negativist" approach to life, then, we have no choice but to opt for responsibility, education, and discussion over hedonism, happiness, and self-indulgence. Furthermore, we must concern ourselves with eliminating the problems that we see, rather than merely with perpetuating our particular desires, or "fixing" our own problems for psychological reasons. Getting into a relationship is not going to solve your financial or health issues, let alone anyone else's.

None of this by any means implies that we should be miserable in some attempt to symbolically convey selflessness, however; we can't escape our desires, and so should humor them to some practical extent. The humoring of what pleases us in itself isn't the problem that I have with modern society; my problem is that we go far beyond humoring our desires to the point where they are the reasons for why we exist at all. In a world where an astonishing proportion of humans are below the poverty line while the rest slave away at office jobs on medication for a third of their existences, we can definitely do better.

So why is this phenomenon, this perverse self-indulgence, so prevalent in today's society? If I had to guess, I'd say that the collapse of organized religion and the rise of so-called advanced technologies has played a major role. Now that we don't have to worry about our crops seeing it through the winter, or whether the earthquake was caused by god, we're so free -- and lacking in direction -- that we've become pigs. We've fixed the means to our various ends, but the ends are a veritable mess.

The next time that you think to yourself, "The world would be so much better, if only I had _____," remember this post. Whether it's a boyfriend, a better paying job, the ability to say that you've tried some hallucinogenic substance, or a bigger apartment, remember that you will not survive in the long run, and neither will anyone else. Further, when presented with the chance to engage in discussion about how to improve our society, don't pass it up in favor of indulging in something that will make you feel good, and don't allow your desires (other than the desire to reform planet Earth) to rule your life. Maintain a balance, always!

1 comment:

  1. What's that? I'm sorry, I was too busy being stupid and disgusting to engage in enlightened debate about reforming society. Back to filling up my swimming pool!