there’s a kind of low level logic behind your will to live, right

if everything feels good, you can achieve your goals, your needs are met, then it’s easy to feel motivated and optimistic and well adjusted. if you feel hopeless or stuck, it’s not. I think most people would agree with this.

one place my mind then goes is: “yeah but - look at Gaza, or Myanmar, or South Sudan, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or global warming, or factory farms. there’s ~infinite suffering out there. how can we be happy in this world? how can all that possibly be worth it?”

this is actually not about Gaza or Myanmar, it’s about me

if I’m being honest, this is a dodge for “I feel bad right now and I want my pain to be legitimate so I’ll talk about the Whole World instead.” The real feeling is: “I feel negative infinity awful sometimes, how is this worth it?” It is embarrassing to say that because basically everything in my life is somewhere between “ok” and “amazing”. But let’s right now assume that my pain is legitimate, because otherwise we’re not gonna get anywhere. “I feel negative infinity awful sometimes, how can this all be worth it?”

infinity minus infinity

“negative infinity” here is my mind playing tricks on me. It’s my mind being overwhelmed and refusing to play. And I recognize it all the time now too:

and I guess if that was it, these people would be right. if life is just the occasional ice cream cone (+100) or pretty flower (+50) or Chernobyl (-infinity), it’d be pretty clear that this place is a kind of crap hellscape and not worth living

t-shirt that says “what kind of world is this? it’s kind of crap!

but… there are positive infinities too. why is it so hard to find them? here’s some:

(those may sound vapid, but “there’s a war in some country” or “this guy cut me off in traffic” are pretty vapid too)

Seems pretty obvious that if I believed in the positive infinities as strongly as the negative ones, I’d do fine. “I cannot reason about these huge things, brain shutdown, ehh might as well say the positives win.”

why the asymmetry

the next move here seems to be “focus on the positive things, do metta meditation, keep a fuckin' gratitude journal, until you deeply believe that the love of your wife and kid are way more positive infinity than your temporary lack of sleep is.”

so, yeah. I’ll do that. in some form.

but why is it so hard? why do I have to climb uphill to believe the positive infinities, while believing the negatives is effortless? it’s not like I do hate-meditation or hate-journaling every day.

Some hypotheses:

  1. The News; I’m not doing hate-meditation but our information landscape will do it for you! hate/fear/anger get clicks!
  2. my brain is honed to “find a problem, fix it.” some of that might be engineer brain! some of it is a tactic to avoid getting overwhelmed.
  3. maybe all our brains (2024 USA humans) are honed to “find a problem, fix it.” I remember decades of classes of Finishing Assignments and very few Playing Around or Enjoying The Moment
  4. maybe all our brains (humans) are honed to “find a problem, fix it.” this is why “get out of your head”/“touch grass” is such standard advice. being a mammal feels good. being a human feels… well, it’s evolutionarily advantageous, but it feels less good.

3 and 4 seem like a stretch because most humans and even most 2024 USA humans are not depressed.

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