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September 19, 2006

The Principles of Discontentment

I was recently asked what, in retrospect, may possibly be the single most poignant question one can ask another human being: What in this life do you live for? Put another way—a way that is more appropriate for an article on rohitsrealm.comwhy is it that you have not yet killed yourself and put everyone out of their collective miseries?

Ostensibly, this should be a rather easy question to answer insofar as you are not actively contemplating suicide—and I am not. Yet, when asked this very basic question recently by a close friend I have often turned to in times of mental distress, I was left dumbfounded, unable to conjure any answer that was the least bit viable.

Why was it that I woke every morning and necessarily did what was expected of me? What was the reason I had not yet put everyone around me out of the collective misery arising from my presence? Was it for a specific reason? A means to an end? Or was it simply because there was nothing else to do? Did I continue to live solely because the status quo is merely less effort? Was I really happy?

Many will likely look at my life and immediately dismiss the aforementioned thoughts as the petty and petulant repines of a typical bourgeoisie ingrate incapable of acknowledging the extent of his fortunes. Don't you realize how lucky you are? Good school, well-compensated job, promising career prospects, and tons of friends. Many people never get that opportunity. You don't have a right to be discontent, much less complain about it.

While all that may be true—I did go to a good school, I do have a good job and promising career prospects, and I do have many friends—does that automatically mean I should be happy? Do those facts give someone the right to deny me the basic human emotion of unhappiness? Do my fortunes allow someone to dismiss me as ungrateful and my thoughts as irrelevant? If the formula for happiness were simply some linear combination of a good school, a well-paid job, promising career prospects, and a multitude of friends, why is it that contentment remains so elusive for so many? Why is it that Office Space has come to define Generation X and to an extent my own?

Am I supposed to apologize for my successes? Am I supposed to simply accept the fact that I have met society's criteria for happiness and summarily relinquish any thoughts to the contrary that I may hold? Certainly, there is no doubt that many others in this world have problems that are more fundamental to existence than mine; lack of food, clothing, shelter, or opportunity are simply a few. Yet, should I find contentment simply because my life is not as bad as it could be? Does this fact instantly invalidate my problems altogether merely because I have not suffered the same misfortunes? If one were to listen to the self-righteous incantations of the self-avowed morally superior, that would be exactly right.

For too long, I have suffered under the yoke of this moral superiority, trying in vain to reconcile my ostensible successes with my deep-seated disaffection. No longer! No longer shall I endure the sanctimony and self-righteousness of incontinent pseudo-Marxists who would liken themselves to social revolutionaries, even as they traipse through their 20s in glorious indigence, funded all the while by their decidedly bourgeoisie parents' sizable bank accounts. Disaffection is not the monopoly of the downtrodden, nor discontentment that of the destitute.

It is not as though I am complaining about the disappointments of untenable romances or grieving the gross injustice of not being able to afford the latest and greatest BMW, as many of my lesser peers are prone to do. Understanding one's purpose in life and finding one's motivation is a worthwhile cause that has occupied far greater men and women than either me or my self-righteous comrades. It has been the underlying theme of countless great novels, innumerable consequential lives, and nearly every philosophical movement that has ever existed. To dismiss these thoughts in another person merely because he or she may be materially successful is unforgivable. To allow someone's sanctimony to deter you from giving proper consideration to this most relevant question is incorrigible. My only regret is that I did not come of this conclusion sooner.

Hopefully those of you who have already experienced this discontent stemming from an elusive purpose in life will begin to reconsider it, rather than simply rejecting any unhappiness that may seep through your apparent successes as solely an aberration. Hopefully all you morally superior, incontinent pseudo-Marxists will emerge from your cesspool of self-righteous hypocrisy to realize that it is you, and not your ostensibly successful friends who cannot seem to find contentment in material banalities, that truly threatens to poison our society.

As for me, I still have no more of an answer to the questions above than I did two weeks ago in the discussion with my friend. Perhaps she was right in saying that this is a question I will likely struggle with for the remainder of my adult life. Then again, maybe I will suddenly find the enlightenment I have long sought in the unlikeliest of places. Either way, I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with the sanctimony of those who would liken my material successes to my spiritual contentment; neither should you.


As I read this blog, so many thought popped into my head. Here are a few of them:
Golly, gee, I missed these rants.
Yeah, He does have a good job.
"...funded all the while by their decidely bourgeoisie parents' sizable bank accounts," what the FUCK! Who is he talking about?
Maybe, the most unlikeliest of places for HIM to find happiness is MARRIAGE.
And, I wonder if he's driving to SoCal anytime soon.

the only thing id have to add is, that humans are never content with whatever they may or can obtain: human insatiability. that's an innate, primal, instinctual, whatever urge. it doesn't matter how (un)successful you get; as long as there is more out there, humans will want it, and thus feel a lack of joy when they don't obtain it yet. the only thing one could possibly state is that the feeling of desire is less for those who have more, but i think that's quite disputable, and is just using a specific point of reference.

that's why i would think, the buddhist ideal of no possessions would make the most sense in terms of enlightenment or pure happiness or joy or whatever. if you can shut off the capacity of desire in your head, there would be no resulting disappointment of not getting the desired item/object/whatever.

but i think that's pretty boring.

(i like using whatever as well.)

one thing i did see recently that made me think about "being happy" was an interview of jon stewart on letterman late 2005 (you can youtube it). basically they discuss their children and how happy they were over doing absolutely nothing, and they were discussing when "cynicism" becomes a developed concept for them.
"it's not like your kid is going to say 'oh... the zoo. greaaaaat.'"

ooh ooh!
and also the fact that nostalgia brings delusions of happiness, when in fact we were just as miserable then as we are now!



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