I listened to science and experienced more unhappiness in return.
Perhaps it is an issue of individual differences. Perhaps it is an issue with averages. I don’t know.
I exercise regularly. I eat okay. I have friends I can call in the middle of the night. I work in a field that lets me help others. I focus on accumulating experiences over things. I generally sleep pretty well. I live an examined life with reflection and critical interpretations of my values and beliefs. I forgive and forget very easily. I’m autonomous, competent, secure, and have high self-esteem. I’ve carefully selected aims, goals, and purposes in my life. I’m relatively accomplished and well off. I’m able to change several aspects of myself when I see they are impacting me negatively and also resist and try to change others when I see what I believe is harm they are causing others.
Yet, I hate everything at the moment. Everyone is irritating me. Things are irritating me. I’m very irritable.
Why is this? I can’t figure it out. That irritates me too. My brain isn’t doing its job. Stupid brain.
I’m sitting on the subway. On my way to work. I’m filled with anger and aggression for the third time this week. I sit among strangers, but wish to stand and run, hit, kick, and scream. Anything that will release the flood of bottled up visceral energy coursing through me at the moment.
It’s 7:30 am when all this happens. I won’t be home until 5:00 pm at the earliest. Nine and a half hours to go before I have a chance of releasing it in anyway.
My old friend science gives more recommendations. Always ready to offer advice.
“Releasing anger and aggression through acts of catharsis show adverse effects. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies that can be effective in controlling aggressive desires. These include bolstering self-control capacity through training, by consuming glucose, by empathizing with the person who triggered the desire for revenge, by distracting oneself, and by reappraising provocations.”1
Sounds like a life of distraction might be the best option. What life isn’t one of distraction? Thanks for the suggestion science.
This anger and aggression only makes sense through a focus on well-being and happiness as an aim in life. Not everyone outside of science cherishes those aims.
“‘Wretched contentment, happiness as peace of soul, virtue, comfort, Anglo-angelic shopkeeperdom a la Spencer’ was for the masses, for the ordinary people, who didn’t matter. The pursuit of happiness, either for oneself or for others, was a contemptible way to spend one’s time, because nobility could be achieved only through suffering. Happiness was not interesting: human greatness should be the goal of life.”2
So thought Nietzsche.
He gives some hints as to what human greatness might be.
“Nietzsche's positive evaluative ideal of greatness for a human being offers as a highest ideal the capacity to affirm one's life to the fullest extent possible, as tested by the thought experiment of the ‘eternal recurrence’. On the other hand, Nietzsche sometimes talks of greatness in terms of properties of, and relations between a human being's drives or instincts: necessary conditions for greatness include the strength of drives, their multiplicity, and their being in conflict but held in a unity.”3
I’ll keep looking, but he wins for now. He won on my last post about suffering as well.
More questions exist though. Does wishing to re-experience one’s life in its entirety make one great? That seems like a weak explanation for someone that valued strength so much. And to what extent is that connected to an early self-inflicted end? Could one wish to live their life eternally the same while also ending it prematurely and simply accept that as part of the life to be relived forever?