I read an interesting article that pointed out much of the same causes for unhappiness that I see, so I accepted it without question at first. Yet soon it began to nag me. Something didn’t exactly mesh… there was more too it. If interested, google [Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy] and see how it sits with you.
This article reminded me of the years when I was doing astrology and palmistry. I was always amazed at how often these moderately occult traditions seemed to hit the nail right on the head. The scientist in me wondered how the alignment of the stars could really have that much influence.
I finally realized that the mind could sub-consciously agree with what corresponds to universal truths, yet also concur to our personal expectations. Consequently, we easily conclude things like, “That’s true of the other guy, not me”, or vice versa. Astrology, for example, is simply a catalog of common human attributes that all of us share to one extent or another. Seeing the catalog, one’s expectations then influence perception, so if we are in the mood to agree, we can; if we are in the mood to disagree, we can as well. Undoubtedly, there is a grain of truth in all myth. Thus, palmistry, being related to physiology, may actually hold a few grains of reality, but those are soon left behind in favor of expectation-driven conjecture.
Expectations sow the seeds of all unhappiness, period.
Our brain enables us to picture a future, whether that’s five minutes or five years from now. Thus, if you have a brain and think, you can’t help but harbor expectations. Therefore, this article on yuppie unhappiness clearly applies to all of us. How unhappy our expectations make us depends on how seriously we take them… how real they feel. To put this another way: The more that happiness is your goal, the more unhappy you’re bound to be.
Chapter 71 suggests a way that helps offset this expectations trap: Realizing I don’t know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. This isn’t perfect, but it’s better. As they say, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good [or better]”
If you had a brain that didn’t think, similar to other animals, your expectations would be more limited to the immediate moment’s stimuli… either internal biological drives or external lures or threats. These always play out in the current moment, whereas we carry ours around like baggage, e.g., ideals, beliefs, goals, taboos, etc. Isn’t this the main thing that makes our species unique?