Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Want happy? Be less stressed

There’s lots of people out there chasing the ever elusive goal of happiness. Bookstores (okay; Amazon) and the Internet is filled with books and articles on how to be happy; that somehow once we attain it, all would be okay and we can live peacefully onwards thereafter.

I’ve certainly tried to find my happiness, and I have to say it’s as fleeting as it is difficult. The moments of joy in realizing a goal - like buying a Porsche - is a momentary dopamine hit that doesn’t last. Worse, once it wears off I am back to base one, back to before I started on the goal. I’d immediately need of another aim to deliver me that same joy once more. It seems that for me, happiness is indeed like the hedonistic treadmill, rather than something constant, which is I think is what we’re all after.

Is it possible to be happy all the time - as the default state of mind? I’d imagine the answer is quite idiosyncratic. If it were so easy then there wouldn’t be a vast cottage industry to provide answers for those seeking it. Personally, instead of adding things to my life and hoping those things will fill up the happiness meter permanently, to achieve somewhat constant happiness, it’s about paring it down: to do less, to want less, and really focus on only the truly important.

Via negativa.

These days I’ve realize that instead of chasing happiness, it’s far more constructive to eliminate stress. The side-effects of stress are readily apparent: my resting heart rate is elevated, I grind my teeth at night during sleep, and pimples sprout out on my face, even though you’d think at age 31 I’d be forevermore done with those marks of puberty. Nevertheless, it’s been a bit of an aim lately for me to be conscious of when I am feeling stressed, and to address the underlying cause.

For example, when I am wake up every day, my mind tends to wander to the work day ahead, even though I’ve yet to even leave the bed! Pondering about those various tasks fills me with anxiety and stress, needlessly so because I can’t do anything about those things until I actually get to work. It’s not something I should be thinking about while I go through my morning routine; if anything, I ought to be calm and relaxed so that I can perform my best later in the day.

There’s procedural examples, too: I gave up driving a car for the commute precisely because it got too stressful to deal with the massive amount of traffic every day. Taking the bus have been one of the best changes I’ve done last year, because riding the bus allows me to zone out and listen to my podcasts, rather than worry about other drivers on the road.

Obviously, not all stress are bad; some are crucial in kicking me in the ass to do better, like my daily checklists of tasks, and a self-promise to keep this website updated regularly. The stress from those pseudo deadlines are super helpful; what I am looking to eliminate are the frivolous and unnecessarily stresses.

As with anything in life, it’s a constant work in progress.

Messing around with symmetry and light.

Will I get bored with an 911?

I was listening to The Smoking Tire Podcast and the topic came up about dissatisfaction with a car once you've finished building it up. Most people are in love with the journey of modding a car into their vision but once it's completed they instantly get bored with it. What they then do is sell the finished project and start a new one, a never-ending cycle where the joy comes from the process, not the results. 

Or perhaps the euphoria from the results is amazingly fleeting. 

As I've written before, I don't modify my cars because A. I can't afford to and B. if I wanted to make my car better I'd rather buy a better car instead. That said I think the sort of fleeting happiness with a car does apply to my situation: I've yet to keep a car for longer than three years. It's not the most significant reason, but I'd be lying if I say a reason why I sold the WRX STI and the ND MX-5 after it wasn't due to being bored. 

So then what constitutes as my "journey": the part where all the fun lies? The saving up process may be excruciating but it's also rather enjoyable: each cross-off on the calendar and each paycheck into the bank account is a hit of dopamine as I get ever nearer to actually making the purchase. Researching on a car is immensely satisfying, too: reading up on all the details and peculiarities of a particular car is one of the best parts of the entire experience.

I've been holding off on doing that for the 911 I plan to buy because it's still nearly a year from fruition, though you can bet I'm massively looking forward to achieving encyclopedic knowledge on the 991.1 GT3. 

Of course nothing can match the utter high when the car is bought and I'm bombing it down a mountain road, listening to the symphonic wail of the engine. I guess things gets a bit wanting after that as my eyes would wander off to what's mew and different. 

And the GT3 is to be my 'Forever Car'?! It's certainly possible I too will get bored with an 911 within a few years of buying one and then sell it for another car. We shall see if old patterns and habits can die; I seriously would like to break the streak; it would take something incredibly special (and absurdly expensive) indeed to be objectively better than a GT 911. 

Don't go chasing. 

Don't go chasing.