I had a weird dream the other night.
I’m reading a book in a large, dimly lit library. This library only had one room, one huge room with books lining all the walls. Aside from the table I was sitting at, the library was otherwise empty. I read a paragraph that says the world is about to end, and I immediately slam the book shut and run out the door to go warn as many people as I can. As I leave the library, I find myself in a huge empty field of grass. It’s really hot outside and the sky is a deep red with jagged black lines all over it, like the sky is about to shatter into a million pieces at any moment. I don’t really have anything better to do, so I start running and looking for anything that’s alive. Eventually, I see this girl that I know sitting in the field, staring up at the sky. I run up to her to tell her about what I read, but instead I blurt out, “hi, I really like you.”
I’m a little panicked now, both because of the sky and because I didn’t want her to know how I felt about her. She looks up at the sky, then at me, and all she says is, “yes.” She grabs my hand and the moment her hand slips into mine, I’m completely engulfed in a blissful, content sensation. I have completely forgotten that the world is doomed, so I lie down with her and we stare at the sky, still holding hands. The hot air feels really nice now and the red sky looks amazing with all the black cracks on it. The longer I look, the more cracks appear, and I remember that I needed to tell her about the world ending. But as I turn to look at her and she looks back at me, I forgot what I needed to say again, so we just smile at each other while I try to remember what I urgently needed to tell her. The moment I finally do remember, I hear this huge sound of glass breaking. I look up and the sky is pitch black now. I don’t really know how to describe what happened next, but basically the sky fell on top of us, and that’s where I woke up.
Lights Out: PokéAwesome: Pokémon for the Adult Swim set.
(sNSFW, ADULT swim.)
eh fuck it, might as well finish my thought
NO, this shit doesn’t really make us happy in the long run. This is the conclusion I’ve come to after a few weeks of thinking.
I have a few reasons to believe this.
1. Empirical Evidence: People from richer countries tend to have higher depression and suicide rates than people in poorer countries.
2. (This one is really important) Having more options does not always make us happier: More options available means more pressure to choose the best option. It means more brooding over options we didn’t choose when we’re not as happy as we thought we’d be with our choice. We tend to overestimate how happy our choices will make us, which only adds to the resentment of giving up other options.
In fact, this point is backed up by research in psychology: http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html
The more you want something, the worse you feel when you don’t have it. However, actually getting it doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
America seems to revolve around the idea that “more is better”. In fact, that idea is the very linchpin of our capitalist economy. The CEOs and Presidents of American businesses today were the people who woke up yesterday and told themselves, “I want more than what I have.” It’s these people who want money or power, or knowledge that innovate, produce and ultimately push America forward.
That’s why “more is better” is so ingrained in our culture. The cogs of capitalism only move when people want more things. If everyone in the world was perfectly happy with their old phone thank you very much, how much money would Apple have made when the iPhone 4 was released? And more importantly, if Steve Jobs didn’t have the ambition to start Apple, would the iPhone and all the other technological advances Apple made exist in the first place? This is why American culture values ambition so much; its success depends on the ambitious people who want to take as much as the world will give them. The people who DO manage to take it all and sit on top of their piles of success are applauded. The rest of America watches them from below, trying its hardest to reach an even higher level.
And it all ultimately stems from the philosophy that if you want to be happier, you need more things. More money, more clothing, more space in our houses, more items on the dollar menu, we just want more things. You see, the more things you have, the more options in life you can choose from, and that’s supposed to make us happier because we can then choose the best option from the bunch. These options give us the feeling that we exert some sort of power over the path we take from birth to death.
But does this actually make us happier people? Is more better in regards to making people happy?
i’ll continue this another time
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