I just finished reading Yuval Harari’s Sapiens — has me thinking about lots of things. I’d recommend it!
One of those “things” I am thinking lots about is happiness and presence. I have written about it before, but now even moreso, I am really focused (ironically) on living in the present and making the most out of every day.
The biggest question and most powerful thing I takeaway from the book is this quote about happiness:
“We are far more powerful than our ancestors, but are we much happier? It doesn’t seem so. Compared to what most people in history dreamt about, we may be living in paradise. But for some reason, we don’t feel the part.
One explanation is that happiness depends less on objective conditions and more on our own expectations. Expectations, however, tend to adapt to conditions. When things improve, expectations balloon, and consequently even dramatic improvements in conditions might leave us as dissatisfied as before.
A second explanation is that both our expectations and our happiness are determined by our internal biochemical system. And our biochemical system has no real interest in happiness. It was shaped by evolution to increase our chances of survival and reproduction, and evolution has made sure that no matter what we achieve, we remain dissatisfied, forever grasping for more.
A third explanation is that humans simply don’t understand what happiness is. We are like a driver in a car who pushes the fuel pedal for all he is worth, but the gear is still in neutral. No wonder that we are producing a lot of noise and energy, but we aren’t really getting anywhere.”
Am I happier?
As I’ve gotten older, learned new things, gotten new things, won new things — am I overall a happier person than before? Is that the goal? if not, then what is the goal?
Will things ever make us happier? Or will we always grow bored and look for new things to consume?
Have we always been so materialistic or is this a new thing (relatively) for humans?
Yes, these are big and deep questions — without answers. Another one…should we even think about this kind of stuff? What does it accomplish? Should we avoid the hard questions?
I am beginning to form answers for lots of these questions and it has been an interesting exercise in building conviction around hypothesis in the unknown. Of course there are no right answers.
I think that the only wrong take is one that is close minded and opposed to change and new opinions.
Anyways, curious to hear your thoughts as well!
Originally published at gonen.blog.