I will start this off simple by revealing the not-so-surprising fact that I do not like Optimal Purchase, and I do not find my job to be filled with any measure of joy. While it’s good to work, and the money will eventually make it worth my while (since most of this will be going towards my Europe experience), it does nothing more than serve its purpose. Yet what floors me is that so many of my co-workers are positively thrilled to accept it at that. They have absolutely no true vision for their future.
Not every person is so deluded or thrilled, and in fact, the majority of them treat it for exactly what it is: a job, with a paycheck, and some benefits. Yet they, too, have no desire to move beyond their current position, and seek nothing more than the next step up in pay-grade so they can make the down-payment on that new (insert object of desire) coming out next month. Where the hell is their vision? What happened to bring people to such a level of mediocrity?
People have, from the beginning of their societal integration, been trained to separate their identity from work. What you do and how you do it is not a reflection upon your true self. (long side note: it’s for this reason that I dislike jobs that require you to hide jewelry or tattoos, to wear company-branded polo shirts, to mask self-expression for the sake of uniformity and organization) Work, school, these are just necessary hoops to jump that we can seek meaning in the rest of our lives, via marriage/family/kids, or through houses/cars/boats, or by climbing the social/political ladder. Life is not viewed as a whole, but as a series of experiences that must be suffered or enjoyed. To reach the moments of joy, you have to wade through a mire of despair – and to handle this, people have broken it down to a daily cycle, in doses that are deemed safe for general consumption.
I cannot deny that some parts of life just plain suck, but what the fuck – when it was determined that life sucks and that there’s nothing we can do about it, that was based on the presence of elements like death, sickness, the cruel nature of humanity. Those are the basics, and I don’t think those will be going away at any point in the nearby future, even with epic technological innovation. Yet, people seem content to live in a never-ending pattern just so they can try to grasp at trails of true happiness, hoping that maybe this time they’ll be content and that all of their hard work will have payed off.
I think this view of life is what pushes people into many of today’s most common ailments – loneliness and depression. It is not surprising that a man that hates his job so fiercely would eagerly desire the devoted company of another woman – yet how attractive is a man that hates half of his life? Depression, likewise, is a natural progression from such a hopeless and repetitive functionality as tossing yourself into joyless activities. People look to sex and drugs to solve these problems, but the solutions are not so skin-deep.
I often think about the classic experiment Rat Park, when considering what makes people truly happy. For those that have not heard of it, professor Alexander was studying the nature of drug addiction. He found that rats placed in healthy environments – environments that enabled appropriate amounts of exercise, social interaction, and entertainment – would not choose the morphine-laced water. The rats placed in cold, dark isolation, however, would always choose the morphine-laced water. When these rats were brought to the aforementioned “Rat Park”, they would, with time, stop taking the morphine-laced water, and would not drink it again, no matter what incentives the researchers provided.
My point is that happiness is holistic. We look to patchwork solutions when, in reality, there’s much more to look at. What’s required is a complete re-evaluation of our lives and what we deem most valuable and worthy of our time. The difference between the rats, and us, is that we are capable of crafting our environments as we deem fit (or so I believe). We have control over how we live – yet most people are perfectly content not to take advantage of that control, to sit by and let life happen to them.
My cynicism is hardcore, but I don’t think my observations are inaccurate. I’m not filled with angst, or even despair; I simply believe that there’s a hell of a lot of people that are capable of so much more than what they are, but they don’t even know it. Ignorance is not bliss, in this case.