The idea of mental control – mental self-discipline – might not sound like a lot of fun. At first glance, it could therefore be difficult to marry the ideas of mental control and happiness. However, the whole idea of this blog is building a happy, healthy, wealthy and sustainable life. And yes, all of these aspects, happiness included, require good and consistent mental control.
We have already covered the basics of mental control: the fact that the role of willpower is only to set up and transition between environments within which doing the right thing becomes automatic and natural. This philosophy applies just as well to happiness as to health, personal finances and sustainable living.
Setting up and maintaining environments within which the fundamental requirements of happiness (vibrant health, nourishing personal relationships and free creative expression) are automatically and naturally taken care of will require quite a bit of mental control. Indeed, like it is with many other things, the world we live in today tends to naturally encourage poor health, set up superficial relationships and prioritize consumption over creation.
Building some intelligent micro-environments within which good nutrition and fitness happen automatically has already been discussed in the first category of the One in a Billion action plan. As regularly discussed in that category, this micro-environment is essential simply because the macro-environment we live in today with all of its unhealthy convenience foods, sedentary jobs and sedentary leisure activities is highly conducive to obesity and passivity.
The same is true for personal relationships and creative expression, both of which will be further discussed in this category of the action plan. Again, when left to itself in the modern world, personal relationships and opportunities for free creative expression will be gradually eroded.
Although it is still a hotly debated topic, the effect of the social media revolution on personal relationships has not always been very positive. Interpersonal communication is becoming increasingly superficial and people are failing to tap into the natural joy coming from good old face-to-face communication.
Longer term trends include the fact that many people no longer know their neighbors, people don’t invite others into their homes as readily, asocial leisure activities (watching TV, gaming, internet surfing etc.) are on the rise, marriage rates are down and divorce rates are up, and shallow alcohol-induced sexual relationships have become the norm. We simply no longer need each other as much as we used to and this is costing us a lot of natural joy and life satisfaction.
As for creative expression, job satisfaction has been falling and the living-for-the-weekend (wishing away 71% of life) culture is as strong as ever. Work is often of low quality due to a lack of interest and many people feel trapped in dead-end jobs by the high debts incurred through their high-maintenance consumptive lifestyles.
In general, the world we live in today promises us over and over again that we can gain happiness through increased consumption. This is total BS. The only things brought by increased consumption are obesity, debt and environmental degradation. It’s about time that we develop the mental control required to build an environment that will actually make us happy and, as an added bonus, help to save the world. This will be the central objective of the remainder of this category.
Filed under: Mental control – Happiness