What do you think of when I say the words you’ll never really be happy without problems?
I’m probably crazy, right?
What defines happiness? Having a lot of money? A nice car? A pool? Season tickets? All of those things can aid in eliciting a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I don’t think you’ll ever actually be happy, even if you had all of those things at once.
From the second chapter of _The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck_, Manson talks about what life ends up being if all your goals in life are to create a world devoid of anything negative. If, throughout your entire life, everything is catered for you, solved for you, and you’re never exposed to an ounce of anything less than 100% amazeballs, what will you have left?
This is the classic story of the rich kid who had everything given to him and never a need left unfulfilled. We all know how those stories turn out, too: rich kid rebels and goes off on some life journey to explore the world and find himself.
Too bad that never works out, either. Making such a decision based on emotion is usually a recipe for disaster, because it doesn’t actually address the problem. In fact it does the opposite.
Everyone knows someone that runs away from their problems. Everyone also knows someone that looks for token-based methods of solving their problems (filling a void with things). Unfortunately, neither of these methods will ever work, as we as humans strive on the ability for genuine problem solving.
Throwing Money At the Problem
To be happy, we need something to solve. Happiness is therefore a form of action; it’s an activity, not something that s passively bestowed upon you, not something that you magically discover… happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving.
Let’s take that quote from Manson’s book and chew on it for a second or two.
We have two people that face the same general level of adversity and struggle in life. They can be any race, gender, name, whatever. It doesn’t matter. Person A throws money at the problem so to speak by buying a new car and a new house and new clothes and a trophy spouse to counteract the pain and suffering this adversity is creating in their life.
Person B does things a bit differently. Starting in the same place, they find a solution to the problem which created the diversity, thus eliminating it from their lives altogether. The next day comes and a new challenge surfaces. Lucky for them, they know how to tackle things like this and it’s just a matter of rinse and repeat.
The Key Difference
What Person A did was nothing more than paint over mold. That mold will always be there and will probably just get worse, requiring you to tear down the walls and deal with more than you ever thought was going to happen. Person B cleaned out the mold, tore down walls where needed, and took care of the problem the better way from the start.
Now Person B can go buy a nice car and house and whatever they feel like they want, but those things are there for fun, not because they have to be. At this point if we took away all the things Person A acquired for themselves, how much do you want to bet they’re still worse off than before they had them in the first place?
I’d bet a lot.
What all this comes down to is chasing to create a world around you that involves tackling life’s challenges and not only being consistent but also taking the time to create good problems for yourself. That’s a good problem to have.
For those following along, I want to talk about the second half of this chapter (making decisions based on emotion) in the next post. It’s a topic that’s pretty near and dear to my heart, as I have a load of personal experience with it, as well. In the event I end up running long, I don’t want to toss too many different bits of info out at you, at once.
Also published on Medium.