Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Mechanics of Joy

I waited on some friends of a co-worker recently, and she shared today that one of them said, "It was kind of sad, he seemed to think he was funny, but he wasn't".

Kind of an ouch for sure, definitely rude, and overall a big "Who gives a fuck?" because I don't know this person at all so really it doesn't much matter what a stranger thinks of me be it positive or negative.

Except that it bugged me, because people are structured weirdly.

We are emotionally built to feel pain more intensely than joy. Perhaps from a survival standpoint this has some benefit, the focus on avoidance rather than pursuit. But given where we are in the evolution of the species, it's a curious thing that we're so negatively driven.

In regards to money it's called "Prospect Theory" and holds that the loss of a set amount of money is twice as painful as the pleasure of gaining that same sum.

It also seems to be true in other emotional matters, and make no mistake, anything that elicits a pleasure/pain reaction is strongly tied to emotions. For instance, a loved one tells you that you look really good today. You probably say thank you, and go about your day without giving the compliment much further consideration. But say you're in traffic and someone cuts you off, flips you off, and or screams at you for no apparent reason. You'll probably steam about that for the rest of the day.


Why do we allow the random opinions or actions of people that are nothing more than a flash in our life to effect us deeply while often missing out on the opportunity to cherish positive vibes from those closest to us?

I don't have an answer to that.

I do know that I'm trying to focus on enjoying, consciously enjoying the positives in my life, and letting the bad stuff slide. At the very least I hope that I can continue to be amused at myself when I let some anonymous Internet feedback to one of my articles, or some tactless customer wielding the maturity of a high schooler, bother me. 'Cause I may not be funny, but that shit is.


  1. Most people don't try to focus on anything positive. It's much more entertaining to talk about negative things, why do you think the gossip columns thrive? One thing that has influenced me is trying to experience one Beautiful moment, one Funny moment, one Delicious moment (BFD) every single day. I don't always remember, but when I do, it's a total wow for me. All the things that most of us slip by during the day without an ounce of gratitude, really are tremendous gifts. It's really about being present...have a BFD day! For what it's worth, your blog amused me and made me think before I finished my first cup of coffee. That's good stuff!