The following charts represent data from 50 surveys conducted by THIS SITE of my happiness over about 2 weeks. It’s was rather interesting though I think the methodology was flawed to some degree. I think I’ll just post them without much commentary for now.
This post is an elaboration of #3 from a list of things I learned early in life.
My small Tokyo apartment is quite boring compared to the Mexican house I lived in 5 months. No scorpions, tarantulas, snakes or rats ever visit me here. I don’t get to adjust the roof tiles every rainstorm to minimize the dripping. I don’t get to daily gather firewood just to cook the beans and potatoes. Here I actually have an indoor toilet, and don’t get to shoo off the pigs who are poking their noses in my business. My floor here is linoleum rather than packed clay and stone.
I‘ve compiled 2 lists; one of lessons I learned early, and the other of lessons I learned later in life. In the future I intend elaborate on each point in separate posts, linking to each post from the points in this post. Feel free to add comments on this post as they will influence my elaborations.
Things I Learned Early
- Speak the truth and accept the consequences
Lying, even if intended to protect the feelings of others, seldom outperforms a commitment to conveying the truth, though brutal it may be.
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- Do what you love and make career incidental
Conventional concepts of success have misled many to miserable existences from which they now find it difficult to extract themselves.
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- Ignore money
No, really. Adopt a lifestyle far enough beneath your income that you don’t need to count pennies at the end of every month.
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- Rather than learning a few things perfectly, learn many things well
Unfettered focus can result in a mono-dimensional identity. Constantly move yourself into unexplored domains of knowledge.
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- Take calculated risks
A life of fear nearly always ends in regret. Accept your mortality and fallibility. Then fail. Develop a resilience through those failures.
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Life is long.
Not for everyone, but certainly for those who step away from the usual and expected.
Those who drop themselves in a current of change will soon lose count of the changes.
And each change stretches the memory of the series of dynamic selves ever longer until a year is a decade and a decade is forever.
I am everyday amused at the expressions of those to whom I reveal a former self quite disjointed from my current self: The disfunctionally shy and aimless boy, the sincere yet tormented young man of faith, the carpenter cowboy, the weaver of fantastical tales for my wide-eyed progeny, the euphoric academic late bloomer, the occupational dilettante, and now the curmudgeon-flavored connoisseur of the eccentric.
Hedonism is usually defined as a disposition that seeks to avoid pain and suffering, and that positions personal physical pleasures superior to all other possible goals.
I also place “selfish” pleasure above all else, but wish to carefully qualify this by first commenting on human nature, then on the taxonomy of pleasure and pain.
Humans are subject to what might be called the creep of discontent. The individual who has been living in the comfort of a villa yearns for the adventure of the jungle, while those who have been long in the jungle yearn for the comfort of the villa. The same conditions yield different pleasure values over time. The deeper the discontent in setting A, the greater the euphoria when there is a transition to desired setting B.
As an example, when I first began to live in the mountains of Mexico, I was elated by the demands of survival and self-sufficiency. However, after 4 or 5 months, I began to feel a bit homesick for the amenities of electricity and plumbing. Now, after having lived in Tokyo for 10 years, the mountains of Mexico again have a considerable appeal.
Often the elation is unexpected. I experienced two and a half years of seemingly endless depression after my divorce which suddenly and surprisingly gave way to an intense euphoria when I began to explore and adopt a new identity.
It’s 12:30 am Monday morning. Three hours ago, I was at a bar with 3 European friends. The bar staff looked a bit disappointed as two of us ordered coffee, another a mineral water, and I had cranberry juice. However, we somehow became intoxicated enough to end up talking about religion, politics and philosophy. No punches were thrown, and we even had some good laughs.
Having said goodnight, I had the sudden surge of irrational exuberance that has quite frequently possessed me recently. I jumped onto my bicycle and vigorously pedaled along a small river I cannot name to Shimokitazawa while Continue reading
When you’re my age, nothing much excites you. You’re perpetually keeping a lazy eye out for some new thing that will rock your world, yet even things most unusual feel familiar.
- Travel to a new country?
After living in the mountains of Mexico and the city of Lima Peru, visiting several other countries and living in 25+ U.S. cities, I’m afraid the novelty of it all will wear off too soon. The notion of traveling has little appeal as I am very content in Tokyo, and do most of my exploration in my head.
- Take up sky-diving?
No. It seems far too similar to my divorce.
- Go back to school?
Now that’s a good possibility. I love to learn, and a Ph.D. would be nice. However, I’ve noticed that, having done 8+ years of schooling after high school, I’ve become a bit lazy. Well, not lazy, but disinclined to be in a scheduled program where I actually have to go to bed before 5am, and wake up before noon.
- Get married and start a new family? Continue reading