Our brain is programmed to be happy. Or is it?
A whole industry and a literature to back it up are constructed on the idea that perpetual happiness can be achieved, we are just somehow doing or thinking something wrong. Our nature would be extremely satisfied and blissful, it is just that we somehow wandered off the path leading to it, so we need others to tell us how to get there. Our ancestors knew it. But we don’t. There has been an unhappy generation somewhere along the way who lost the road map, thus the suffering, dissatisfaction and unhappiness. Is this the case?
Well, first of all must get something straight: no matter if you believe in God or something else, must admit that we evolve. We learn on daily basis something new – this must not necessarily be something academic or even constructive. Even if you look for a new receipt on the internet, hilarious as it may sound, it just means that either you are dissatisfied with the same old receipt you have been using or you don’t know any good receipt at all, and you are dissatisfied being skinny, so you decided to widen your garden of knowledge in the sugary treats domain. Anything, even small tasks that you unperceived perform on daily basis show that you want improvement, you plan ahead something better to happen. Why something better? We never really do anything hoping that it will end up worse than it is now, do we? We always plan to improve our situation. And the need to improve implies that you are just not totally content with the situation you are in right now – no matter what image you have constructed about yourself with your posted images on the social media. The truth is you and we are all dissatisfied with some aspects of our lives. This is not due to higher intelligence or education as some people say, the more educated you are, harder is being happy, well that has some truth, but essentially it is just a mankind specific thing. Thriving for the better is in our nature whether we like it or not. Happiness during the ages evolved out of us because happiness means a level of content. Content with one’s own situation means no evolution, and that you can take also as simply the development. If you are perfectly happy with what you have, why on earth would you go and explore new continents, new ways of production?
Dissatisfaction with one’s current status is the primary motor in religions and social regimes. Always assuming that what comes will be better than what there is right now. The assumption that in heaven you will benefit of total happiness, the assumption that the new technology will produce in a more efficient way, the new managerial technique will combine resources more efficiently as the present or previous one. All of these show that somebody was not satisfied, somebody was not content how things have been going and urged changes that would improve the present status.
Happiness evolved out of us, in order for us to evolve, develop, improve or however you like to name it. Happiness and content is a good feeling and we can certainly be more or less content but never fully content. Being freaked out why aren’t we content is actually freaking out why we are human. Feeling somewhat unhappy is natural. It is like the bio fruit or vegetable. It might have worms in it, because it is natural, no chemical added, no pesticide, it is how things in nature are: just not perfect all the time. Perfect symmetry, perfect shape, smooth surface it is all but natural.
The pressure of our society, the media, the everything around us is screaming all the time, that we must be happy otherwise there is something wrong with us. Actually the contrary is true, if we would be happy and content would mean that it is something wrong with us.
By being not happy we adjust our existence permanently, we observe, we analyze, draw conclusions and act to improve. We do it with everything and in every situation all day and every day. More sugar in your coffee? No sugar, cause you are on a diet? Getting up earlier to get more things done? Performance seems low, now sleeping in to improve performance again?
Thriving for happiness is not futile though, because improving constantly means that we get also happier or happy when we feel the benefits of the actions we have taken, but being conscious about not being able to preserve it could help lose some of the anxiety. There is nothing wrong with you or us. And tricks to maintain a relatively high level of content and satisfaction is also easy, if we stay dynamic and keep our brain all the time fueled with new acquired knowledge.
For example, learning something new in a conscious way, acknowledging the fact that we have improved already can offer great deal of happiness. Of course this is not what drives consumer society. If everybody would be happy reading a great book no useless shopping sprees and the acquisition of more useless objects would be necessary. And that of course would again not be good for the economy which is basically built on entirely unsatisfied needs that must be satisfied. This is why shopping can be a good therapy and that was recognized and it is being exploited as such. Short lived though, considering the costs of it. But it is certainly a therapy and there is again nothing wrong using it. Of course not everybody will get excited to find out how far the moon is. Acquiring new shoes could seam as a more substantial reword. To feel cathartic about a book one must have already more refined, special needs. The acquisition of material goods it is a basic one, even if the shoe is your 76th pair. And you bought it because you were somewhat unhappy with the quantity or quality of your current shoes. Or your boyfriend left you recently and this replacement might just do the trick. And crazy as it sounds, it might just do it. So stop flagellating yourself about not being blissful 24/7. It is normal. It is also normal and to expected that you will be blissful again. No doubt about that one either. So chill as you can, whether you want or not life and you with your actions will make you dissatisfied and happy again, and again and again. Just be totally happy and content with your unhappiness and discontent. Or write a very “meaningful” sentences like the previous one, sit back and watch how content it makes you feel!