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You are not designed to be happy

Updated: Apr 8

Saturday morning, it is 35 degrees outside. I woke up at 10:00 AM, drove to the gym, pushed in a workout, and then attempted to handwrite an article under the sun by the pool. There was too much noise and my phone got overheated. Yes, even iPhones need to cool off sometimes, and for that reason, there was no music in my ears. On the plus side, however, I managed to get some tan. Then, drove back home, and had an ice-cold shower. I will not bore you with the benefits of cold-water exposure, if you are curious enough, look it up and you will be amazed. Occasionally, I will purchase some 20-30 kilos of ice to take a bath too – the rejuvenation effect that an ice bath gives you cannot be compared to anything else. It puts a cup of coffee to shame. OK, back to the main topic. After a failed attempt by the poolside, here I am typing my thoughts in my safe space, the living room. Surrounded by neutral colors, books, sketches, and a spinning machine, which has not been used much since the quarantine was over.


Before I move on, I want to admit to something. Everything, that I post or write has something to do with me personally, I do not handpick topics for the next reason: “Oh, this will get a lot of engagement”. Whenever, I decide to write about a specific subject, even if it is an Instagram story with a white background, they all have one birth of origin. My experiences, emotions, and I. We live in a time where the vast majority of what we see on the internet is “content pollution”. There is so much to watch, click on, see, and read. Be very aware of this, every big tech platform is pouring billions into attracting and keeping your attention, they live and breathe to have you stay on their platform and click or swipe on as many catchy titles and posts as possible.


The saying “History repeats itself” comes in handy here because, historically, we have had a similar situation before. A quick history lesson is incoming. In 1468 Johan Gutenberg, a German inventor from Mainz created the “Gutenberg press”. It was the initiation of the printed press & newspapers in the western world. A couple of centuries later, newspaper businesses started experiencing a real “boom”. Newspapers flourished dramatically in early 19th century America. By the 1830s the United States had roughly 900 newspapers, twice more than Great Britain & far more readers too. In 20 years, that number grew to more than 2500. Now, let me paint a picture. Imagine that you are arriving at a train station in London or New York and hundreds of newspaper boys are screaming headlines in your face. Fighting for your attention, trying to get you to buy their newspaper. They want to lure you in with a headline, regardless of the content, getting their newspaper in your hands is their ultimate goal. That content can be and probably will be nothing worthy of your attention. Doesn’t this remind you of something? Yes, there is a word for it – “Click baiting”.  


Definition of clickbait: something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a link especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest


You all have scrolled down the web and seen weird and confusing headlines such as, “7 ways to find out if your man is cheating on you”, “The man who stormed the capitol is allegedly part of an extremist group” or “A famous singer spent millions on her wedding, click to see who attended it”. To me, modern click baiting and historic printed press boom are the same. All content creators are fighting for your attention. However, this does not mean that all content is worthless. Back in the day, organizations such as the Washington Post or the New York Times started acquiring daily subscribers. This meant that their paper was going to be delivered to the homes of those said subscribers daily by kids like Warren Buffet on his paper route. Therefore, when a publication accumulated 200 thousand daily subscribers, a sense of obligation rose. This meant that they did not have to deliver vigorous-sounding headlines or controversial content. They had an obligation to deliver the news. Despite that, today the news world has changed to a great extent, therefore this theory does not apply anymore. However, let me get to my final point with this admittance. I do not tailor my content for engagements, I sacrifice my time and effort to make an impact, big or small. As long as, with my existence, this becomes a better place where people think and live free, I feel content and fulfilled.


Oh boy, this was a long and unplanned intro, which I think is the beauty of writing. I do not plan the structure of the articles; all I think about is – The topic and the first paragraph. If it feels right, I get right into it.


There it is, I got into it and I am committed to finishing this piece with confidence.


5 years ago, Sadhguru announced that he was coming to Baku for a speech. That whimsy-looking guy captured my curiosity, I had never heard about him before. I bought 3 tickets and asked my friends to come along. Sadly, no one wanted to sacrifice a Saturday for Sadhguru and I went alone. To be honest I do not think very highly of him, after attending his event, reading his books & listening to his podcast my opinion is solid, he is way too commercial and I am not buying it. During that event, I even left early. Nonetheless, here is my biggest take from that day. He said human beings are unique. They endlessly want things. No other animal is the same. It does not matter if it is a giraffe or a lion, if you give any mammal 3 essential things for survival, they do not desire anything else. Food, shelter, and reproduction. – That’s it nothing else. However, once a human being achieves these 3, the list of things he wants is endless. Naval Ravikant once said “A sick man wants only to be healthy, a healthy man wants endless things”


Once a person achieves basic instinctive objectives, he wants that house, this car, those possessions, these feelings, adrenaline, joy, happiness, adventure, travel, and so on.


I don’t think Human beings are designed to be happy or content during their lifetime.  It is hard for me to apprehend that someone can have a complete absence of desires. In my opinion, we are designed primarily to survive and reproduce, basic as that, like any other creature. To pass on our genes to the next generation. A state of contentment and peace of mind might lower our stance against possible threats to our survival. Please lower your eyebrows, the fact that we are not designed for something does not mean that it is impossible to achieve it. We are not designed for running ultramarathons of 100 km, but some do run, with a risk of terminal injuries of course. We are also not designed to live on top of each other, in skyscrapers away from the sun, clean air & nature, but we manage somehow.


“The fact that evolution has prioritized the development of specific parts of our brain (which gives us excellent executive and analytical abilities) over an aptitude to be happy, tells us tons about nature’s precedence. Certain parts of neuro-circuits within the brain are each interconnected to particular neurological and intellectual functions. Therefore, happiness being a mere psychological construct with no neurological affiliation, can’t be observed within the brain tissue.”


Now you might think, how the hell am I going to be happy if I am not designed for it? There is an answer to that, which is “counterintuitively”. The same way a runner runs 100 km, the way he trains, sleeps & eats for that competition. While going against instincts, desires & wants.


Some even say that “Happiness, is the absence of desires”. Which somehow makes sense to me; however, I do love pizza, a good wood oven margarita pours so much joy that it makes my eyes shine. Nonetheless, I do understand this very important statement – you should not put terms and conditions on your happiness. It may sound like this “If I don’t get married I won’t be happy” “If I don’t get that car, job & house I won’t be happy”. Ambitions and goals are awesome everyone should have them, but making these kinds of absolute statements in your mind pushes you to despair.


I want to outline a short story again, which I was told in Costa Rica back in March.

Once, there was a donkey who saw a carrot down the road. He wanted that crunchy carrot very much. He began walking towards the carrot. But it was not that easy to reach. He saw nothing but that carrot. The longer he walked, the further that carrot seemed. Just because he was so focused on the carrot, he saw nothing else and ignored everything along the long road. He passed vegetable fields, fruit trees, hay stacks, water streams, and so many other rewards or beauties along the way. He wanted the carrot that bad. He ignored everything else. He neglected all other offerings. He missed out on so many opportunities.


After their endless walk, he never reached the carrot & ended up with nothing.

Sometimes slow down and have a look around.


Don’t be the donkey. End of story.


Counterintuitively, I would like to ask you and myself to think in the following manner. “Do everything you can to acquire anything you want from life, however, if that does not happen – this does not mean it is the end.” At no point in this article, I touched upon the topic of “money”. Because I do not want to be like “money does not buy happiness” or “happiness is not in materialistic things”. What I do think is the following: Money has an amplifier effect. If you are miserable or happy without it, that means with money you will be either more miserable or happier. Whatever and however you are – money will make you MORE.


Let me tease your brain a little bit. Wanting a positive experience is a negative experience; accepting a negative experience is a positive experience. Read it again.


It is what the philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to as “the backward law”. The idea is that the more you pursue feeling better all the time, the less satisfied you become, as pursuing something only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The more desperately you want to be rich, powerful, boss, entrepreneur, millionaire, or whatever, the poorer, lacking, and unworthy you feel.

“The more you desperately want to be sexy and desired, the uglier you come to see yourself, regardless of your actual physical appearance. The more you desperately want to be happy and loved, the lonelier and more afraid you become, regardless of those who surround you. The more you want to be spiritually enlightened, the more self-centered and shallower you become in trying to get there.” OK, this last paragraph slapped even me, really good.


I advise you to research “backward law” at this point. It is a useful theory to be aware of.

It is worth remembering that we are not designed to be consistently happy. However, do not take this as an absolute statement, that you will never end up being happy. We only know the existence of happiness, due to the contrast of pain. “One who does not taste bitter, will not appreciate the sweet”. It is about contrasts; everything else is relative to that point in some way. Do not be the donkey, do not put terms and conditions on your happiness, do not be blind – be aware, be observant & enjoy whatever it is that you are doing.


Pura Vida,

Rashad


Here are some reading materials for you:



The Almanack Of Naval Ravikant

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