I've been trying to meditate again. And it's funny how easy it is to drop into new habits, but the idea of sitting still for five whole minutes, training your mind not to do the thing it's done just about all of your waking life is still so rough.
In thinking about the mind as a trainable muscle, I found myself back on Dan Gilbert's 2004 TED talk, The surprising science of happiness. It's one of my favorites. And even though I've seen it a dozen times, something about the lessons really hit me today. I think I finally understood more about the power of subjective, synthetic happiness.
Gilbert put it in perspective with the scale of the world:
Being happy without the desires of our consumer culture seems to clash with the wonderful progress our society has done doing our work. Without the need to buy things, we'd definitely have less of a need to work on things. It's a weird balance that no one can put their finger on.
While reading Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist, I know I'll get to the idea of the collective brain. Something about our progress and idea sex with one another is making the world a better place by tons of markers, but to what end?
I like to think we don't know and we might not ever. The idea could be just to be. And it makes me think of Ferriss' 4-Hour Work Week, and a quote that always calms me down when I think I need to figure out some grand purpose: