Post No.: 0075
Now there’s no true entitlement to be happy all the time, and it’s not unnatural to be unhappy sometimes. It’s not a failure to feel unhappy! If you’re feeling unhappy or angry, for instance, you shouldn’t deny your true emotions or feelings at the time you feel them. We need some sadness to know what happiness feels like. And the over-expectation of greater happiness, the kicking of oneself for not feeling happier, or feeling bad for feeling bad, can be a source of one’s unhappiness itself!
Stress, fear, anger, envy, sadness and other such emotions and feelings are important for our safety, motivation and performance. They are adaptive in the right contexts – if we’re inappropriately too happy and content then we won’t create or we’ll become inflexible, we won’t give proper risk assessments and will be too uninhibited. Optimum levels of stress and happiness are required for optimal learning (the things we learn must challenge our minds to some degree), for open-mindedness (we need to be periodically exposed to alternative views that we might not agree with) and creativity (necessity is the mother of invention, hence understanding that there are problems motivates us to seek solutions for them). So an excessive level of happiness, or at least putting on a happy face when one shouldn’t be (e.g. when one has just been wronged) is not optimum (like being ‘too healthy’ is simply being unhealthy – being ‘too happy’ is simply mania. It’s again not about striving for any extreme but finding the right balance point, as explained in Post No.: 0014). Feeling happy means that we’re doing something right and everything in the world is all right, but things aren’t always all right that we can be content, take it easy and rest on our laurels.
So happiness, and health, are about optimal states, are about balance i.e. we cannot have infinitely more happiness or health – there is always a point where, the more we do something that previously brought us more happiness or health, it’ll start having a negative impact on our happiness or health overall – at a minimum due to the opportunity costs for our time, which is always zero sum because whoever we are, no matter our fluffy wealth or status, we’ve all only got the same 24 hours per day to spend (for which around a third of this total time will or should be spent sleeping for optimal well-being too) i.e. spending more time doing one thing (e.g. working overtime for the extra money) will directly mean spending less time doing something else that would start to bring greater marginal benefits (e.g. spending more time with the family).
Therefore no matter how much we physically exercise, or how much we seek material wealth, for instance, we cannot attain infinitely increasable health or happiness. There becomes a point where, no matter how much more you earn or do, you won’t feel any experientially happier. It’s not even an asymptote where one could always technically achieve ever-diminishing marginal gains, but marginal gains nonetheless, towards a limit that one could reach if one had an infinite amount of time and effort – because we don’t have an infinite amount of time or effort, and moreover, the more time and effort spent on one area means the less can be spent elsewhere.
Also, a self-focused positive emotion like pride (the feeling of elevated status), if too excessive, can lead to negative social outcomes too (e.g. a lack of empathy and aggression towards others deemed of ‘lower status’, and others despising such smug people).
Because of the limitations of only having 24 hours per day, even though I spend a lot of my time studying, I can’t possibly learn about everything, hence some things have to give, I cannot acquire infinite amounts of knowledge, and no matter how much I’ll know, there’s inevitably going to be some things that you know that I don’t (e.g. remembering the names, places and dates of people and events in history are nowhere near as important to me compared to the essences of what they actually taught us and what these mean to us today, hence I’m only moderately good at quizzes). And I like to, and need to, balance my other interests and duties, to practise what I preach.
Furrywisepuppy wants you to train to become happier if you want to, but if you feel unhappy then, without conversely wallowing for too long, don’t deny yourself those feelings. Use it to motivate and enact change. It’s normal to feel unhappy sometimes.