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  1. #1
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Default "The medium chill"

    The medium chill | Grist

    Mother Jones has an interesting package up called “Speedup: Working More, Making Less.” In the lead story, editors Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery chronicle the harrowing pace of modern work life: the long hours and hairy commutes, multitasking and endless accessibility, the sense of always being busy, always falling behind, always doing a crappy job on both sides of the work/life ledger.

    Bauerlein and Jeffery discuss the phenomenon mainly in terms of external forces acting on workers — a system of laws and regulations comprehensively biased in favor of employers. And that’s where the main focus should be; policy changes are the stuff of organizing and politics. But it reminded me I’ve been meaning to write something about the other side, the internal forces impelling us to work harder and harder. We are being driven, but we are also driving ourselves. Finding saner, happier, more sustainable lives will involve addressing both sides of the equation.

    About a year ago, I was visiting with an old friend of mine who lives in Portland now. He’s helping to run a tech startup, working 80-hour weeks, half that on the road, with barely enough time at home to maintain a relationship with his dog, much less a romance. The goal, he said, is to grow like crazy, get bought out by Google, and retire at 40. “It’s the big chill, man!” (No, Boomers, not the movie.)

    I shook my head and laughed. “I’ll take the medium chill!”

    ...

    The medium chill involves what economists call satisficing: abandoning the quest for the ideal in favor of the good-enough. It means stepping off the aspirational treadmill, foregoing some material opportunities and accepting some material constraints in exchange for more time to spend on relationships and experiences.

    It turns out, though, that satisficing doesn’t come easy to us human beings. We have an extremely hard time saying, “okay, this is good enough.” Why?

    Part of the reason is that we hate closing off opportunities, and that’s what satisficing feels like. We like to keep our options open in case something better comes along.

    But will a better thing make us happier? We’re inclined to think, “of course it would!” But that’s because, as social psychologists have come to understand quite well, we’re not very good at predicting what will make us happy. In fact, we suck at it.



    Most of all, we radically overestimate the impact of external events, both positive and negative. We think winning the lottery would vault us into bliss and losing a limb in an accident would leave us permanently depressed, but neither is true. Experiments and surveys show that within a year, a lottery winner and an amputee will be roughly as happy as they were before events struck. We drift back to our natural equilibrium fairly quickly. This is counterintuitive and difficult to accept at first, but the implications are profound.

    We also underestimate the significance of our internal resources. We cannot control events, but we can, at least to some degree, control our reactions to events. It is possible to become more positive, open, and empathetic, to cultivate a resilient wellbeing that weathers changing circumstances. It’s been done! For an exhaustive account, see Martin Seligman’s Flourish.

    To sum up: the bad news is that it’s unlikely any job advance, material acquisition, or singular event will make you durably happier; the good news is that it’s possible to make yourself durably happier without any new job, material acquisition, or singular event.

    In the video above, Dan Gilbert calls the kind of happiness we find through external events “natural happiness” and the kind we generate for ourselves “synthetic happiness.” As he says, we tend to disdain synthetic happiness, as though it’s a species of delusion. People who are happy that way are “fooling themselves.” Their happiness is not as authentic as happiness that arises in response to events. But Gilbert’s (and others’) work has shown pretty clearly that synthetic happiness is more accessible and durable than “natural” happiness and just as, well, happy. Your brain doesn’t know the difference.


    <Read the rest of the article here>

    <Follow-up article here>
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



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  2. #2
    I could do things Hard's Avatar
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    I don't currently have time to read the external links, or watch the video, but this definitely definitely resonates with me and it's something I've been thinking about since the early fall.

    I'm am a very ambitious person; I decided I was going to get a PhD when I was just 16. Come hell or high water I was gonna get there (and I almost am there). It went further and developed that I wanted to become a research at a prominent academic institution. That last part's changed though. I don't want that. Why? Because it won't make me happy.

    Ambition is great and all. It opens doors to a higher quality of life, feelings of success and production, and a sense of self worth and value. There seems to be an upper limit though. I've learned over the years that, yes I absolutely need to push my mental limits and make as much use of my talents and skills as possible. Doubly so to showcase them and make it known in several arenas. I've learned though that I actually value my personal life far more than I value my career and the tangible successes associated with that. Specifically, it comes down to how much time I put into each. I can not work more than 40 hours a week on a regular basis (I can do more in bursts). I start to fall apart and become miserable as I can enjoy what I earn at work. How is life worth living if all you do is live to work? You don't even have time to live.

    There are certain baseline requirements that I need for happiness: stable income with a little extra to have cheap-ish fun on my time off, lots of friends to do things with, good food, and as much free time as I can gather. What the job is? Well, it seems to matter less to me. All I need it to be is something that doesn't cause stress associated with fear of failure or falling behind, and people I get along with and enjoy their presence around. Of course within my field as well (I mean, there's a reason I went into organic chemistry).

    As pointed out at the end of the article, synthetic happiness just does not work for me at all. I've tried and tried and tried it countless times. Trying to force it, and thinking happiness will come from a high profile career and the upper echelons of intellectual regard. Really, the happiness comes sponteniously. Though I do think it's a good thing to synthetically create situations where spontenious happiness can form. Lest we all just wait around for happiness to find us (it doesn't work that way).

    With all that said, this doesn't apply for all personalities. Some people seem to have "less happiness requirements" than others. Mine requirement appears to be very high, unfortunately. You know what though? I'm trying to stop looking at it from an unfortunate standpoint, and seeing as fortunate. It prevents me from rising to the tippy top, but you know what? That's a-ok with me if I can find happiness in the way I see fit. That is for me to define.
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  3. #3
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    You lost me at "Mother Jones".

  4. #4
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    You lost me at "Mother Jones".
    Yeah, it definitely leans liberal in a LOT of ways -- especially in the follow-up article, which talks about "communitarianism" in an especially hippy-dippy way -- but that's because of who wrote it, and where it was published. At its core, it's about how to reconcile our society's hyper-focus on ambition with what studies show actually makes us happy, and what actually gives us the deepest life satisfaction.
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Yeah, it definitely leans liberal in a LOT of ways -- especially in the follow-up article, which talks about "communitarianism" in an especially hippy-dippy way -- but that's because of who wrote it, and where it was published. At its core, it's about how to reconcile our society's hyper-focus on ambition with what studies show actually makes us happy, and what actually gives us the deepest life satisfaction.
    A topic and convo I would be more than happy to have with you or any host of others here. I must be getting more curmudgeonly as the years go on. In days past I would have read it and gone from there, but these days I just don't bother with sources of that ilk, knowing how the writing and issue framing are liable to drive me nuts.

    Anyway, hope all is well with you EJCC!!
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  6. #6
    this is my winter song EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    A topic and convo I would be more than happy to have with you or any host of others here. I must be getting more curmudgeonly as the years go on. In days past I would have read it and gone from there, but these days I just don't bother with sources of that ilk, knowing how the writing and issue framing are liable to drive me nuts.

    Anyway, hope all is well with you EJCC!!
    Yeah, I do the same thing tbh, but from the other side, so I feel you.

    Things are going well for me, and I hope they are for you too!
    ~ g e t f e s t i v e ! ~


    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"



    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
    1w2/7w6/3w4 so/sx (enneagram)
    want to ask me something? go for it!

  7. #7
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJCC View Post
    Yeah, it definitely leans liberal in a LOT of ways -- especially in the follow-up article, which talks about "communitarianism" in an especially hippy-dippy way -- but that's because of who wrote it, and where it was published. At its core, it's about how to reconcile our society's hyper-focus on ambition with what studies show actually makes us happy, and what actually gives us the deepest life satisfaction.
    This sounds like hogwash. I'm perfectly happy trying to figure out how to metaphorically bump off all the three other middle managers at my level so I can be a slightly higher middle manager, and then having to watch my underlings like a hawk to make sure some young upstart doesn't try to undercut me. I prefer to toss and turn at night, wondering if that new hire with a larger vocabulary than me is secretly plotting to overthrow me. It makes no matter; I will eventually generate enough profits to acquire a satisfactory female, which will help me maintain the appropriate image to move further up in the hierarchy.

    I am perfectly happy trying to constantly rise to the next level, and pulling one over on the suckers, and I truly need nothing else in my life. Acquiring profits is the best path to acquiring females, and one can acquire high-status females by acquiring enough profits.

    If you like, I also have a tome of Ferengi dating advice to sell you:



    ------------
    In all seriousness, Martin Seligman's books are worth checking out.

    In the video above, Dan Gilbert calls the kind of happiness we find through external events “natural happiness” and the kind we generate for ourselves “synthetic happiness.” As he says, we tend to disdain synthetic happiness, as though it’s a species of delusion. People who are happy that way are “fooling themselves.” Their happiness is not as authentic as happiness that arises in response to events. But Gilbert’s (and others’) work has shown pretty clearly that synthetic happiness is more accessible and durable than “natural” happiness and just as, well, happy.
    Yes... people assume that if you work on programming your brain to be happier, you're somehow deluding yourself. That's bogus, though. Why should taking responsibility for your own emotional well-being be treated as the equivalent to joining a cult?
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


    This is not going to go the way you think....

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Jaguar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulcan View Post
    Acquiring profits is the best path to acquiring females, and one can acquire high-status females by acquiring enough profits.
    You might get hit over the head with a Bottega handbag for that comment.

  9. #9
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    You might get hit over the head with a Bottega handbag for that comment.
    Star Trek fans should get the reference, and I know we have a few Star Trek fans here.

    On the Ferengi, from DS9:

    "They're greedy, misogynistic, untrustworthy little trolls, and I wouldn't turn my back on one of them for a second."
    [Trump's] rhetoric is not an abuse of power. In the same way that it's also not against the law to do a backflip off of the roof of your house onto your concrete driveway. It's just mind-numbingly stupid and, to say the least, counterproductive. - Bush did 9-11


    This is not going to go the way you think....

    Visit my Johari:
    http://kevan.org/johari?name=Birddude78
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  10. #10
    Sheep pill, broster asynartetic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulcan View Post
    Star Trek fans should get the reference, and I know we have a few of them here.

    On the Ferengi, from DS9:
    Lotsa racism against the ferengi in star trek.

    especially from riker

    https://brotherpeacemaker.wordpress....s-gone-before/

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