Dan Gilbert gives the secret of life
Dan Gilbert, a psych prof, talks
about how to be happy, and why modern Westerners are unhappy. Gilbert is proving the point with psych experiments, but toward the end he shows how the experiments agree with old wisdom.
Basic point, known by the ancients and proved by psychology: Unless it's fully intolerable, we automatically and innately choose to be happy with what we have.
Modern consumer culture discards this natural tendency by telling us the absolute lie that everything is possible and nothing is permanent.
If you work hard enough, you can achieve The American Dream. You can choose any brand of soap you want, any gender you want, any job you want, any degree of wealth you want. You don't need to stop and appreciate your current situation, and in fact you're not allowed
We tend to think of the older tendency as being Buddhist or something, but it's a major element of most religions and traditions.
Gilbert quotes Adam Smith:
"The great source of the misery of modern life seems to arise from overrating the difference between one permanent situation and another. Some of these situations may, no doubt, deserve to be preferred to others, but none of them can deserve to be pursued with that passionate ardor which drives us to violate the rules of prudence or justice."
Though all religions say
this in various ways, two major religions don't follow it. In practice they pull your focus away from present happiness and turn your attention to Apocalypse and Messiah. Jews
are waiting for the first appearance of the Messiah. Protestants are waiting for his second appearance, since he screwed up the first try and didn't finish his assigned job. Slacker.
Eastern and Roman Catholics share the Messiah theology on paper,
but actually focus more on 'sacralizing' and appreciating the present world.
Most Muslims are present-oriented,
with the basic sense that everything you do should please God. You don't get magically forgiven for wrong choices, so you need to get it right the first time and appreciate God's work.
Thus it's no coincidence that modern consumer culture is mainly driven by Jews and Protestants. Their basic attitude breeds contempt and dissatisfaction with present circumstances. All will be perfect after the big boy comes [or comes again to fix his original fuckup.]
Labels: Natural law = Sharia law