Song of the Day: “No Rest For The Wicked” by Lykke Li
Reading of the Day: “We Have No Right to Happiness” by C. S. Lewis
Thought of the Day:
What is life? I think it’s a journey through misery, suffering, and happiness. A good portion of it is uncontrollable. It’s like sailing down rapids. The current is going to take you where it wants to go, but you can steer it to minimize damage and maximize happiness. But life is more complicated than that. We have a right to happiness, but not the right to pursue it by any means necessary. Because there is something even more important than happiness, and that’s being a good person. Life is also complicated in another way, and it is freeing in some ways once this realization is known: a human being is only fully in control of himself/herself; everything else is outside of that and up to a huge range of uncontrollable factors.
I’ll come back to the happiness portion of what makes life complicated, but for right now I’m going to focus on the issue of control. You are only in control of yourself. You decide how to behave, how to respond to others, how to express emotions, and what to do. Every action you do is you (another TOTD for another day). Now, others do influence how you feel, but at the end of the day, only you decide how much you want to let something bother you. Obviously this isn’t easy or as black and white as I’m making it sound, but you choose whether to let an insult bother you or to laugh it off.
That said, you have no control over anyone or anything else outside of yourself. Any control found outside of the self is an illusion. Other people and events can be influenced, but that is different from control. Control means that you are primarily responsible/able to influence a situation to the point that you are the main factor that determines the outcome.
Here are two examples how control outside of the self is illusion. There is a married couple that has an issue when it comes to doing the dishes. The husband doesn’t like to do them and the wife doesn’t either, though she is primarily responsible for them. The wife can be very laid back about doing them, and the husband doesn’t like this. So in response, the husband decides to yell at her to express his feelings and get her to do the dishes. Then she does them, albeit unhappily.
It looks like the husband was in control of her, but that was only influence. His yelling was only one factor out of many that the wife took into account when she decided to do the dishes. She cares about him (would rather him be happy), would rather the dishes be clean, would rather him not yell, values the relationship, values the living situation, feels it is her responsibility (she’s going to do them anyway), recognizes she can be a bit laid back with them (at least partially understands husband’s discontent), feels partially anxious when seeing dishes to clean, etc. And when she made the decision to do the dishes, these thoughts didn’t all go consciously through her mind, a lot happened unconsciously based on all the previous decisions she had made leading up to that point.
Another example is a person applying for jobs. The person can look his/her best for the interview, know about the company, be qualified for the position, have good communication skills, etc. These preparations only influence the outcome. The interviewer uses a range of factors to determine whether or not you will be given the job. The interviewer has personal biases affecting his/her judgement, the quality of the other candidates, relationships with candidates, the company culture, the company’s full needs, etc. Because a big part of an interview is judging the interviewee, the interviewee does have a lot of influence on the outcome of it, but the interviewer is still the one fully in control. If the interviewer doesn’t want the interviewee for any reason, the interviewee can’t do anything about that.
Life is complicated because a person is only control in himself/herself, and can only minimally influence outside situations. What makes life is more complicated is that people have the right to happiness, but not by any means necessary.
Happiness is something everyone wants to obtain. The chemicals in the brain for it are basically drugs. It’s addicting to be happy. Being happy means feeling good and content. Being unhappy means there is something wrong. So most people without even being asked to try to become happier on their own.
Money happens to be the universal way to get anything one wants, so stealing is a source of this being taken too far. Murder can also happen this way. Rape is trying to have complete control over another person (a fucked up way to be happy). There are many more examples of this including, but not limited to abuse, cheating, affairs, lying, drug abuse, breaking promises, talking behind others’ backs, etc.
Even just trying to control others (everyone does this and society has a huge issue with this). Society is obsessed with control, even at an individual level. Which is interesting because love is the exact opposite. Love is recognizing that you want the other person to grow and do what they want as long as it is moral (sorry, no murdering or pillaging the townspeople for love). And as long as that person wants to be with you, it’s putting your needs and wants and their needs and wants together equally. Selfishness is not love. In fact, it is the opposite along with control. Sorry, I’m digressing. Trying to control others is just another bad/immoral way to pursue happiness.
Being a good person should be everyone’s number one goal, not happiness. And ironically enough, if everyone did that, then more people would be happier. Because putting one’s happiness over others’ (being selfish) causes others’ unhappiness. And what to people do when they’re unhappy? Try to become happy, and that is usually through further selfish means, further spreading unhappiness. Meanwhile, when happiness is spread, people spread that to others.
Be happy, but not at the expense of others. Be in control, but only of yourself.