They key to happiness is personality flaws
Human life (through the lens of time) is a continuous set of complex transactions; each transaction has a cost and a return. These decisions are interlinked, they bounce around through time being impacted by other decisions & their costs until some finally cascade back into your life. The key to happiness is to know what your personality costs, so you can have some understanding of how these rays will re-enter your life. This way you get to be who you are, for a long time and with the least resistance from the rest of the world.
Like most of my other ramblings, this too is a mere thought crumb. Unsubstantiated by any real data or research (someday?), it’s more of an idea to model into personal lives than public arenas. A small guide to an elevated attitude, and maybe a happier existence.
So what is happiness?
Is it to help others or to be content? to work hard or to never complain? With hundreds of quotes, guides and books to tell you what you need to change in your life to be happy which one is the correct one? To some degree they all are, but in reality – I think none. While one advice might be true for one, it might not be for another.
If we examine the human world with its diverse personalities, varied life-styles and distinct circumstances, we will find that happiness favors no particular group. You can find people skipping around in poverty-stricken areas while the wealthy take a couple of Prozacs a day to survive.
So happiness knows no currency. Within physiological norms, it is independent of the physical world. And no particular life-stage, gender or race necessarily has it better. This makes it tough to understand, but easier to implement :) . In the greater sense, happiness to me is a state-of-mind. Independent of what the circumstances are around you, but highly depended on what the circumstances are to you. You might have heard people say that you can always trace the reason for a problem. Like a path tracing back to a single moment. This tell us a lot about the nature of humans and how we understand problems. I’ll leave the nature for a later post, but our understanding of problems is what hides the understanding to happiness.
Life as a series of transactions.
Human life (through the lens of time) is a continuous set of complex transactions. Every moment a decision (transaction) is made, a price paid and a result (good/bad) acquired. So each transaction has a cost and a return. These decisions are interlinked, they bounce around through time being impacted by other decisions & their costs, like light in a hall of mirrors. Each mirror slightly altering the original ray until some finally cascade back into your life, while the rest continue.
When and how these costs cascade are what I think is the secret to happiness. So if you stay up late one-night, you pay the price in hours of sleep. The next morning, you can either sleep-in and bounce the price further in time, or get-up early and cash in the price in hours of sleep. If you bounce it further it can impact your work-hours (your deadlines) or your personal hours (your relationships).
If humans were devoid of heart and full of head. We would be able to choose this. And if there is a choice, then we would always choose the most logical option. Pick the right time to cash it out the price. Always work when we have to, sleep when we should and party on your allotted times. But humans can’t always choose. We can’t always optimize every decision… if it were the case, we would all end up on the same conclusions. We are diverse and so are our decisions. There isn’t a single answer any one person will pick to a single situation. But there are patterns to these choices and these patterns are what become our personalities.
Lowering expectations gives you fake happiness.
A lazy person will always delay the work, a short-tempered person will consistently escalate the situation and a stubborn person will always resist change. So how can we be lazy, short-tempered, stubborn and still be happy? By knowing that we are these things and expecting them to be a constant part of our life. It’s similar to lowering expectations; which might be the reason you can find some of the most happiest people in some of the most dire places.
PS: I consider this form of happiness a coincidence of adversity and not the true solution. Adversity naturally pushes expectations lower to the point where there is little else that can go wrong and the only way is up. It’s a sign of defeat; a man with low-expectation never accomplishes anything great! It’s also an impossible task to accomplish outside of adversity. I’m the happiest man alive on a single meal, when facing a drought in Africa. But you can expect a scowl if my Tim’s Steeped-Tea isn’t a double-double.
A lazy person with the key to happiness.
If I’m inherently lazy (obviously fiction :P), I should know this. There isn’t anything wrong in enjoying bumming around, all I need to know is the cost I pay. The cost of being lazy is the stress that comes close to deadlines, the frustration of people who are expecting you to deliver and the embarrassment when people call you out on it! This bit of self-awareness lets you enjoy the lazy bits and handle the costs well. I can now change my expectations to include the constant embarrassment I will carry throughout life for my laziness, all the while knowing the sweet sweet addiction of the few extra hours of sleep. I can now also smile at my problems and expect them. Maybe I will start pulling allnighters close to deadlines. Maybe I will compensate for other’s frustration by sweetening the pot and delivering more than expected. Heck, I will even join the embarrassment next time, crack a few jokes… tell them how I can sweeten the pot and get on to it. And once I am done will all this, I can go back to enjoying extra sleep and little work for days on end.
And one day!
And one day, when the cost for being lazy gets higher than the return and I can’t power-through, top-up and laugh through my personality flaws I will always know the fun I had while I could be lazy and happily exchange one flaw for another! So in the end, happiness is identifying your costs of being you and learning to make adjustments using your strengths. You get to be who you are, for a long time and with least resistance you from the rest of the world – the key to happiness.