In a blink of an eye, we're happy. We may be achieved a goal or finalized a project. This happiness usually lasts for one blink, maybe two. In this short moment, we perceive happiness, a life filled with great pleasure. Although thousands of bad stuff await us, we're blind to them.
Many software companies are built around owning that teeny-tiny moment. Instagram shows excellent moments of people or creates a platform to share happy moments while blinding everyone to the bad stuff happening around.
The misperception causes us to become vulnerable to the slightest wrong thing. When we mistakenly recognize that everyone is happy around us, we search for why everyone has a great life that we don't. When we look for reasons, we start to realize the problems reflecting what we see in others. From there, we put unrealistic goals with the hope of solving the first hypothetical issue that pops up, and as a result, we expect to be happy.
When we reach these goals, the satisfaction of reaching a goal blinds us again because, after a short moment, we see another problem and aim for achieving yet another goal. One goal follows another, and we're in an infinite goal loop.
How can we get out of the infinite loop? Like the infinite loops in software engineering, we need a break, but this time from our broken system.
Being whole and accepting the suffering, problems, and pain around us forces us to change our perspective of accustomed happiness. Instead of hoping to have a life without any issues, we can focus on choosing the particular problems we enjoy tackling and ignoring what social media dictates.
The definition of a good problem differs for everyone. Maybe this year we won't go on a vacation in the Bahamas that we hoped for: is this a good problem to care about? For some, no, because they can choose another destination or not go while living same as before. By looking at the goal and accepting that we will always have problems even if we achieve them, we can change our judgment.
There is nothing wrong with having goals. It's the driving force for many people. The tricky part is living with them while expecting significant happiness upon reaching them.
Goals and happiness are neither mutually inclusive nor mutually exclusive. How they collaborate defines their relationship. When goals become dominant, happiness becomes oppressed because of the nature of never-ending goals. When goals become washy, happiness can shine.
Choosing good problems brings happiness. When we enjoy solving them, we implicitly foster happiness. Because these problems usually don't gather around big goals but serve a purpose. For example, I don't have a goal of being a famous writer. But I want to write; I like the challenges of writing my thoughts and learnings in a notebook every day. It's damn difficult because I'm writing in my second language, English. But it's a good problem to deal with, and I enjoy playing with new words and spending an extra hour every morning, and waking up early. Tackling this problem and trying to solve it already makes me happy.
When I wrote about ditching my goals before, I mentioned the turtle and the rabbit story. The turtle enjoys beating an arrogant rabbit with tiny steps. The rabbit knows that it will win, so it enjoys taking a nap in the middle of the race. But the turtle is slowly putting in the work by knowing that there is a high probability of failure.
The question still is that can you be this turtle? If you want to become an Instagram influencer, are you okay dealing with thousands of problems you will face, like getting only 2-3 likes for your posts for over a year? Can you embrace the challenge while knowing you will probably lose the race?
If you want to have a fit body, will you enjoy carefully selecting every food, going to the gym, and practicing while your body is aching from the previous practice?
The world and our environment are filled with problems that we cannot solve all the time. If you enjoy solving the kinds of problems I mentioned above, that's great. If not, maybe you can focus on finding out which issues you will enjoy working on and ignore the rest. Choose which problems you want to solve, not the one that comes to you first.