We live for shots of pleasure. Shots that brighten our life compared to the dull, everyday, of happiness.
Because happiness can be pretty boring, can’t it?
You’ve heard about it most often in love and relationships. That often, the exciting partner is not always the best one for you. The dull partner might instead be the one that’s the best in caring for you and providing a happy environment for you. But everyone seems to go for the exciting partner. We’re all seeking pleasure, not happiness.
But maybe you’re different? Probably not.
The best relationships are the ones that are stable. But stable is also boring. Unstable is exciting, full of sparks, always-on-your-feet excitement. We look for the thrilling loves that give us a rollercoaster ride of emotion. Don’t kid yourself, you’re hungering for excitement right now. You want sugar.
Happiness can seem pretty boring
I see it in Ramadhan, where I see my Muslim brothers and sisters looking for the next religious high. They go searching for the talks and the big gestures that validate themselves, that give them an endorphin rush, that tell them that this IS the right thing to do because of the rush it gives them. They want that sugar rush. They want sugar.
We, as a species, choose based on feelings and emotion, and emotion is “the moment”. In fact, over the past decade or so, there’s been a growing movement of people telling us to “live in the now”, and to embrace “the moment”. It’s a movement that most of us have understood as “take the sugar”.
6 years ago, I came across an article that called us the “experience generation”. We are a post-industrial society, where there’s so much stuff that we don’t want it anymore. When we buy stuff, we get bored of it almost immediately because something new comes out instantly. No. We want experiences.
We are the “experience generation”
We want the travels and the photographs, the theme parks and the conferences, the gatherings and the protests. We want to go and experience something. I’m pretty sure it’s why social movements have been doing so well recently.
Rather than because people actually have a passion for the movement, it’s probably because most of them are bored and want something better to do to feel included in a larger community and get an experience. Nothing wrong with that. Just saying.
Travel, movies, concerts, events, carnivals, talks, seminars, conferences, flash mobs, protests, movements. A lot of these are booming in popularity because we want those experiences. We want to feel something.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that we’ve slowly stopped looking for long-term experiences, simply because they’re so stretched out that you don’t feel anything. After all that Hollywood drama you immerse yourself in, you want the experience of “Now” that can rock your boat and leave you gasping for breath.
They keep telling you to look for something that makes you passionate. Most people misunderstand. They think passion is just what the experience makes you feel in the moment. They think that passion is sugar.
We’re hungry for experiences, but we keep seeking out sugar instead of real foods. Then we wonder why we still feel empty inside.
Passion is NOT sugar. Passion is not momentary.
Because these one-off short term experiences are probably NOT what make you grow and change you into a better person. No. It’s long, hard work on whatever your passion is.
Are you going to talks? The talks are just sugar. Implementing what you learnt is the real food.
Going to concerts or movies with your friends? That’s just sugar. Sharing deeper things with friends and family is real food.
Joining a flash mob or protest? That’s just sugar. Doing the leg work to really help people on the ground is real food.
Building a school for people who live in the jungle isn’t easy work. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. It’s not sugar. You’ll probably wake up every morning tired and bored, far away from civilization and friends. But one of my friends volunteered and did exactly that. He had a greater vision in mind that would help create happiness. And he did.
This kind of real food is what fulfills you, even if there’s no sugar in the moment.
Experiences that matter
It’s not that I’m saying we should avoid sugar. My favourite food is chocolate. But if that’s the only thing you’re having, it’s going to give you an unbalanced diet.
Similarly, you can’t just go for the high-energy, inspiring activities. They might inspire you, but you need to balance it out with activities that actually accomplish something.
Go for real food
That’s also how you can tell if it’s just sugar. After the whole thing is done, ask yourself, is the world a better place now because of what just happened? Or did it just inspire and only inspire somebody?
Sugar can’t fill you
Don’t stop at just having sugar. Go the extra mile. Sugar is great and all, but go out there and make a real meal.
So this is a call to action. Go do some real things. Don’t stop at inspiring talks, or flash mobs, or fancy protests.
Inspiring moments can’t give you happiness. And sugar can’t get you full.