the lost man chronicles
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being unbelievably phuckin' happy

Here, for a moment, I may be a hypocrite.

There seems to be point where the merit of analyzing how we think and what we do and the various outcomes that determine how we feel thereafter is quite spent and pointless.

Part two of Gertner's daunting outlook on the gap between sentimental aspirations and subsequent manifestations of happiness discusses the work of economist George Lowenstein whose "empathy gap" argues that we make different decisions based on the emotional state we are in.

Duh! Did we need a Carnegie-Mellon pedant with a million dollar grant to tell us that?

What makes me chuckle even more are the various examples that are cited to demonstrate the validity of this ground-breaking theory.

For example, recently Lowenstein tested to see if people would dance alone to Rick James' Super Freak for money. People said yes when calm and in a "cold state," and reneged when on the verge of being put before a crowd. Leave it to an economist to leave out the thousand other factors that should be considered including culture, musical tastes, attitudes, etc. and whatever.

People freak out because when it comes to public performances most people do. We become too conscious of what others will think of us, and this leads of nervous anxiety which leads to some of us jumping ship.

I, a humbleless one, know that it is a mindset that often determines whether we stay or go. Speaking, dancing alone, singing, I've done it all before a crowd and I've realized that it is easy when you control your thoughts and emotions that you can do just about anything. Amongst other calming variables, you know that everything will be just fine because you are well prepared, you are the expert, and you know everyone else is just as human as you are.

Lowenstein is also fascinated by why people contradict themselves when it comes to the "heat of the moment" which drives a decision that we have rationalized otherwise, when calm. He cites his own mountain climbing and canoeing experiences, stating that even upon proclaiming that after living through harrowing and life-threatening incidents, he would never do it again. Yet, a moment later he in fact jumps right back in. Frustratingly, it seems that he tries to futilely apply reasoning to comprehend what cannot be understood empirically.

Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.

The heart has its reasons which reason cannot know. ~ Pascal

It is rather easy and rational to see why though. Some of us are willing to risk because we know that these are the moments worth living for. If we were to always calculate and calmly venture where every other man has gone, than it should not be a surprise when he ends up disgruntled, dissatisfied, depressed and dysfunctional.

" A creator has to be able to look foolish. A creator has to risk his so-called respectability. That's why you always see the poets, painters, dancers, musicians, are not very respectable people."

~ Creativity, Unleashing The Forces Within, osho

And quite often the other side of happiness does not have to be sadness, but rather it can very well be bliss—a state nirvana which usually comes at a price of sacrifice, anticipated suffering, or at the risk of a life-altering decision if we choose to follow our passions and greatest desires.

This is why people climb Mt. Everest, phuck without protection, are willing to dance alone, or simply try the extreme at the expense of possibly not being able to ever enjoy these blissful activities again. Some call this living a life that is true to who they are meant to be, others simply see this as the best means to escape ennui.

Lowenstein goes to the extreme himself when he states that our altered states of emotion change us quite radically from Jekyl to Hyde, so that essentially we become two different people.

In reality, we are the same person, and we should not blame it on the temperatures of our dispositions. This is simply denial. People simply contradict themselves because there is a constant battle between what we are told is the proper thing to do and how we are organically motivated to act. The polemic explains why in the privacy of our excited states we might enact repressed fetishes or fantasies, have crazy sex, or do anything that would other wise be frowned upon. And you know what the craziest thing about all this is? When we do engage in such anti-social things, many of us finally realize how unbelievably phuckin' happy it makes us.

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