The above is excerpted and modified from this answer to an email question. Here is the full text and context. (The question follows after the answer.)
This looks very well thought out and progressive, kinda like a person with a master's degree would write...
This is worthy of more thought on my part, so I'll look at it again when I return after some days with my brother and sister in law and up in the mountains.
The answer will probably be slanted toward "balance" in viewing causes and the causal chain. When one uses a cause as an excuse, one cuts off some progressive options. For instance, if a man loses his leg, then he will be somewhat handicapped, but if it is considered just part of what's so, then he can just look at "now, what can I do to add to my wonderful life?" (Kinda like W Mitchell). He stops looking for reasons why he is held back and he drops (and stops) all stories, replacing them with more "what's next...what CAN I do?" Yes, chemistry is a big part of the causal chain, and some is not repairable or changeable, but it is affected by other parts of the causal chain, such as the vital, vital, vital practice of doing one's best to maintain homeostasis (read the piece on "care of the frontal lobe").
Perhaps the 40% (gradually declining as we discover more) of happiness effectors are genetic/hereditary/out-of-our-control, but why not just accept that as if it is a "lost leg" and do all the other wonderful things that can be done to create one heck of alot of happiness?
The biggest effector of happiness (also nailed by the Buddha) is the conversation/viewpoint that we are short of where we should be rather than seeing "the great mountain of haves" (see the article) and looking at the rest as optional bonuses. I write alot about "enough", so that we can begin to learn to practice "enoughness." There is no "all of a sudden I will be powerful" option that works, but there is a sure fire cause of unhappiness we want to eliminate - the victim/passive/dependency/approvalneeded/powerless syndrome (so I have a contents/links page just focusing on those). Those are the two greatest causes of unhappiness - and they are controllable! One can literally stop repeating "stories" (= why I am stuck being a schmuck...). One can establish what "enough" is, but this time at a rational level. One can see the mistruth of powerless and learn how things work (Barksdale makes a huge contribution in that area). And, yes, we are 'stuck' with the level we have evolved to as humans...but, are we really "stuck" or is that just a reasonable limit, where we are also so incredibly blessed with the greatest computer in the world, which is, as the Dalai Lama says, all the equipment we need. Since we do not have unlimited time, we must focus on The Core Of Life (title of article) and do "the build" - all of which we have plenty of time for.
The problem is not "no time", "I'm poor", "I'm being treated unfairly", "someone else is doing it to me", etc., but it is the lack of educating people about life, so they can see that the 100's of excuses are not to be used, ever, and that only their progressive learning will create a great life.
My dilemma is how to reach those people, how to be effective in teaching them that they can achieve all of the basics, and how to nurture them along the way. Based on the article, plus what I think I see, we are going the opposite direction, becoming more like the fictionalized "future" man with a blimpy, degenerated body stuck in the gluttony that the easy life can beget...
When I invent "the pill" that will make it all perfect, I'll be sure to email you!
Warning: The pill may take me few months...
Sent from my iPad
The original email:
i think there is a lot of truth in this article. Yes...for those of us that are fortunate re not having to work, we are able to take time for self-care and personal growth work. For those working is is a far greater challenge. and yes, as victor frankl demonstrated one has power over one's thoughts even in dreadful circumstances ...but I do think based on my own experience that one's biochemistry can make it exceedingly difficult if not impossible to change one's thts. (Now I can b/c of lexapro and adderall) While thts/exercise can change one's biochemistry in part, I am not yet convinced that thts /ex can do it all! Genetics clearly plays a role, as well as early trauma/abuse in young children while brain is still forming/growing.... and to what degree biochem/brain characteristics (eg. amygdala) can be 100% altered by thts/ex is questionable....at least to me. But certianly we can improve biochem with thts/exercise/pleasure producing activities, social interaction. YOur thts, wise person???
Article: [While reading this, it could be useful to differentiate between what is "we're victims" and what is actually progressive, solution oriented.]
Why Life in America Can Literally Drive You Insane