On Happiness and Motivation
Today I felt an immense feeling of happiness from… the fact that I was able to limp!
Sprained my mid foot four days earlier I could not put any weight on it until today, which meant I was just hopping around to get stuff. Turns out four days is enough to drill down internally that it is a new norm. And so today I was incredibly happy when realized it almost does not hurt to slowly limp around the room!
What that teaches us it the obvious Buddhist’s “happiness comes from within”, which to me is not satisfactory by itself, since taken to a logical conclusion means — everything you do is futile; there is no reason to live and struggle (which obviously it is, but that’s beyond the point)- which does not lead us anywhere short of taking a synthetic drug for happiness (hey, Huxley! Also I hear that’s basically what heroin is?).
To counterbalance the leading-nowhere happiness from within we must come up with some arbitrary ultimate objectives to struggle towards. Many an idea had been made throughout the years: religions, ideologies, and all that sort of thing, but ultimately it’s just a shortcut that help every person to identify what resonates the most with them personally, which is now often called spirituality.
Now that we have objectives, there appears the motivation. Where there is a motivation — there is some unhappiness. The mental trick here is that we foul ourselves thinking that reaching the objective will give us the happiness (which obviously it would not), as any zen thinker will point you out. Yet this same reaching the objectives is what moves the progress forward, which most people for the most part consider a good thing since it reduces suffering.
Okay, fine, so we have two concepts that are at odds with each other: happiness and motivation. How do we reconcile the two? You would not believe it, but the golden rule seems like a solution here again: everything in moderation! If you feel too unhappy — reduce the motivation, drop some objectives, relax and enjoy what you are given (you can probably do better then limping!). If you feel too happy — sing up for objectives, help someone, improve something (wow, this is getting stoic fast!). Since ultimately every person is their own judge — this is not a precise prescription, but rather a mechanism that one can employ to balance their zen with productivity…