Really hard things

October 25, 2007

Something difficult.We often take on things that are really hard ((Those who know me very well know that I’m taking a ridiculously high course load right now, and am trying to survive midterm season. Those who know me only fairly well may be wondering if I’m still alive. Specifically, I’m taking a 156% course load compared to average, and am in two famously work-intensive courses. 16 hour days are for wimps.)). Examples include starting a company, getting a university degree ((A science degree is hard, at least. I’m not sure if arts degrees seem easy to those doing them, or just to the science students, as they watch the arts students with envy and contempt.)), and raising kids. Often when you’re in the middle of doing these things and times are really hard, you’ll say to yourself, “Wtf, why the hell am I doing this in the first place?”

There is a perfectly good answer to that question. The euphoria from succeeding at the end is the part you remember the most. Most of the time, you power through, making sacrifices in other parts of your life as needed, and pull of the incredible feat. Afterward, you get this huge wave of joy like no other, and the pain it took fades in your memory. The only way you’ll stop taking on things that are so hard is if you start failing to complete the tasks. Of course, failing is quite beneficial as well, since we primarily learn from failure.

While it may seem like an irrational pattern to get into, doing these hard things makes your life much better overall. This is because it increases the variation of your happiness, which is as important a contributor to life quality as average happiness. ((Although I try to keep my articles non-philosophical, one day I will post about my Theory of Happiness, in which happiness variability vs. average happiness is discussed.)) While it may seem stupid to sign up for a lot of crappiness that you’ll forget in order to get some happiness you’ll remember, it turns out the only parts of life that matter are the ones you remember.

© Allen Pike. See also Twitter and Steamclock.