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Happiness = Reality - Expectations


Liberty
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Ah! The great thing is that what applies to happiness also applies to time and space! ;) It is just that relativity, when applied to happiness is so much more intuitive than when applied to time and space… Because we experience it every day, like your article clearly explains.

 

Gio

 

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Also, poor health == unhappiness. 

 

It likely gave the author a bit of an ego boost to put down an entire generation as less realistic (than presumably himself).

 

I don't think the article claimed to be an exhaustive list of all things that can lead to unhappiness. They also forgot to mention torture and malnutrition..

 

Or are you saying you are in poor health Eric? I hope not.

 

I didn't see the article as putting down a generation, and I'm pretty sure the author is part of it (he was in college in early 2000s). To me it feels totally intuitive that we inherit a lot of expectations about what life should be like from our parents, even if not explicitly, and people who were raised by depression and WWII people probably expected life to be a lot harder and tougher than it turned out to be, and the generation that was raised by baby boomers who lived through a great increase in prosperity, social freedom, cultural expansion, technological wonders, etc, probably have significantly higher expectations which can be hard to meet. Knowing this and re-calibrating can be a way to be much happier.

 

None of this is saying that it's bad to want to be special and happy and all that. The article explicitly says that it's great, just that you have to work for it, it doesn't just happen on its own for everyone in their early 20s.

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I think it's one of the weaker waitbutwhy articles. I'd rate it at C+.

 

It has some important thoughts, but handles them in a very shallow way.

 

Way to be a hipster and feed your Mammoth* by publicly putting down something that someone else liked without actually saying anything ;)

 

* http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html

 

What is your non-shallow view of the issue?

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Also, poor health == unhappiness. 

 

It likely gave the author a bit of an ego boost to put down an entire generation as less realistic (than presumably himself).

 

I don't think the article claimed to be an exhaustive list of all things that can lead to unhappiness. They also forgot to mention torture and malnutrition..

 

Or are you saying you are in poor health Eric? I hope not.

 

The current high-sugar diet leads to obesity and those people don't feel energetic.  This lack of energy makes them feel sort of shitty -- similar to how you feel if you skip breakfast and lunch.

 

This lack of energy leads them to spend more time sitting on the couch and that leads to relatively lower achievement.

 

It doesn't look like a recipe for life fulfillment.

 

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I think it's one of the weaker waitbutwhy articles. I'd rate it at C+.

 

It has some important thoughts, but handles them in a very shallow way.

 

Way to be a hipster and feed your Mammoth* by publicly putting down something that someone else liked without actually saying anything ;)

 

* http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html

 

What is your non-shallow view of the issue?

 

So you are saying that I cannot express a negative opinion on this forum without writing a dissertation?

 

Ericopoly had two great observations about health and about generalization.

I also made two points that you ignored.

 

If you want more thoughts, ask nicely instead of writing snarky replies.

 

Have fun with your expectations.

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Hyperinsulinemia is what I'm referring to with regards to the sugar in the diet comment.  Too much insulin blocks leptin, so your brain doesn't get the signal to stop eating, and the insulin drives your glucose into the fat cells which leaves you feeling energy depleted.  And you get obese from this.

 

Also the processed foods lack fiber which would normally suppress the insulin levels.

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I think it's one of the weaker waitbutwhy articles. I'd rate it at C+.

 

It has some important thoughts, but handles them in a very shallow way.

 

Way to be a hipster and feed your Mammoth* by publicly putting down something that someone else liked without actually saying anything ;)

 

* http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/06/taming-mammoth-let-peoples-opinions-run-life.html

 

What is your non-shallow view of the issue?

 

So you are saying that I cannot express a negative opinion on this forum without writing a dissertation?

 

Ericopoly had two great observations about health and about generalization.

I also made two points that you ignored.

 

If you want more thoughts, ask nicely instead of writing snarky replies.

 

Have fun with your expectations.

 

What were your two points? That I should tell Elon Musk and that if expectations are 0 then reality is happiness (as if that was actually a real math equation)? Oh, sorry to not have addressed those. I'm not sure what there is to add.

 

I was merely saying playfully, not in a snarky way, as per the smiley, that putting things down like you did tends to be a social status thing, as pointed out in that other article which I linked (and I assumed you were familiar with, since you are at the point of ranking articles from that site). If you have things to say on the topic, just say them, no need to be a hipster about it.

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What were your two points? That I should tell Elon Musk and that if expectations are 0 then reality is happiness (as if that was actually a real math equation)?

 

Yes. Both of these are actually very important points.  8)

 

Oh, sorry to not have addressed those.

 

And I think you are still upset about what I wrote. At least that's how it comes out.

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What were your two points? That I should tell Elon Musk and that if expectations are 0 then reality is happiness (as if that was actually a real math equation)?

 

Yes. Both of these are actually very important points.  8)

 

Ok, so you think that if Elon Musk (and people like him) didn't have hugely high expectations and wasn't dissatisfied with reality, that we wouldn't get progress. Does that cleverly destroy the thesis of the article?

 

Meanwhile, the actual article mentions that you should "Stay wildly ambitious" and aim to be a great success and all that. This is not an article extolling the virtues of reduced expectations and lowering the bar. All it says is that to get there you have to work hard for it and shouldn't have unrealistic expectations about being inherently special and deserving of all that as soon as you turn 22. Elon Musk works like crazy for his success and went through very thought times for long periods of time, nothing contradictory here, even though applying a general mental model to one individual isn't the most useful thing anyway.

 

Your second point is that if we don't have expectations, we should be happy, problem solved. Easier said than done. That's not very realistic, as even buddhists monks struggle with that despite working full-time on it. I think a more useful point is to have well calibrated expectations -- most of us here are probably fairly introspective people, and our investing heroes certainly preach that practice, so it's probably not a huge problem. But most people are more 'go with the flow' and look around at what others are doing to see what they should do; I know many people my age (early 30s) who assume it's entirely normal to have a house as big as their parents, with as much luxury (vehicles, electronics, travel, evenings outs), despite their parents having had decades more to accumulate wealth and climb the career ladder. These are their expectations of what is normal for them, and that's causing a problem because they end up buying on credit and finding it hard and that makes them stressed out and unhappy, and feel its unfair that they can't get a wonderful career straight away, etc. Not everyone of course, but it's certainly something widespread. Now we can blame the availability of credit or whatever, and there are certainly multiple factors. But expectations of what they should be able to have and what it takes to get there is near the root of much of this IMO.

 

Oh, sorry to not have addressed those.

 

And I think you are still upset about what I wrote. At least that's how it comes out.

 

I wasn't upset, I just saw those as jokes, not as actual points that needed to be addressed. But now I did anyway since you asked. Will you share your views, please? You alluded to a non-shallow point of view on this, and it has made me curious.

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I certainly had a huge adjustment of expectations in the last decade. Some upwards, but more downwards. I learned that it wasn't a no-brainer to get to where my parents were when I was growing up. It takes a lot of sweat and thinking things through. Took me a few decades to start to stop comparing myself with others, too, and thus having false expectations that I could not fulfill for myself based on my own meager abilities.

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I think this article lacks perspective.

 

The babyboomers were incredibly lucky, and also kind of shitty because

 

-went through the most amazing bull market, from 1980 to 2000, 13% after inflation for the S&P.

-Built up enourmous debt from 150% to 400% gdp (entitled much?). Not to speak of the enourmous off balance sheet entitlements.

-Despite that, infrastructure (the one that government is responsible for) is left in worse shape as they found it because of underinvestment.

-Just in time to catch their pensions and retire by 65, current generation, almost no pension, and retire by 70+

-apparantly did a shit job raising narcisistic children

-Yet despite that, crime rates are much lower among youth today, IQ is higher and the current generation is much more tolerant vs gays etc

-Did not have to deal with crazy cheap competition from Asia

-Also did not have to deal with exploding house prices and cost of education

-fullfills the cliche of 'those young'uns today good for nothing!'.

 

So basically what happened, the current generation expected a decent job + house + car if they just went to college for a couple years working full time (you know like that last generation?). And now they find out the world is a lot shittier then expected. They have to go to school much longer then last generation, spend more money on it, and get less back in return. Overwork while not getting paid much more for those extra hours. Deal with the enourmous debt load the boomers left us.

 

Also the past generation really did a shit job of educating us. The public education system is practically in shambles (costing more today!), and a lot of young people do not get a lot of useful advice from their parents. You kind of have to figure it out for yourself.

 

I would say it is a lot harder to succeed then for the baby boomers. So the author should not begin with 'unicorn better then everyone else' crap. Also id say the average 20 something year old today is much more educated then the average 60 year old today. We are way better at using the internet to educate ourselfs.

 

I do agree with the fact that facebook is basically a timewasting misery machine that offers little upside. Article could be summed up in one sentence 'happiness = reality  -  expectation , hit the gym, work hard and delete facebook!'

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Not to stray too far from the article, but really happiness is what you make of it.  So someone could potentially have no money, lousy health and a dim future and still be happier than someone who has money, good health and a bright future.  Obviously, a good mental attitude and knowing what really matters are important facets.  I would say the BIG issue comes when people in their 20's (I'm 26) feel like they are entitled to certain things just because they have a 4 year degree and a decent job.  I don't think someone driving a Tesla is happier than someone driving a Honda for that reason alone. 

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Quote from Greatest Generation - Silent Generation 1925 - 1945 Charlie Munger relevant on the topic.

 

Reduced expectations is the best defense an investor has. This goes for anything in life. Most anger, disappointment and frustration comes from poorly managed expectations. Charlie jokingly said “I’m big on lowering expectations – that’s how I got married, my wife lowered hers.” Expect everything of yourself and nothing of the world and you will always be pleasantly surprised.

 

http://liveyourlegend.net/25-unmissable-lessons-from-a-weekend-with-warren-buffett/

 

http://www.esds1.pt/site/images/stories/isacosta/secondary_pages/10%C2%BA_block1/Generations%20Chart.pdf

 

 

 

 

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I wasn't upset,

 

OK.

 

Does that cleverly destroyed the thesis of the article?

 

This discussion is not about destroying the thesis of the article. I did not say the article was wrong - although it is a bit one-sided and now that I think about it self-contradictory. I said it was shallow (compared for example with his articles on AI, Fermi paradox, Elon Musk, etc.).

 

But now I did anyway since you asked. Will you share your views, please? You alluded to a non-shallow point of view on this, and it has made me curious.

 

You did very well on your own.

 

Couple thoughts:

- Self-contradiction: Author says that "GYPSYs Are Delusional" and then goes with "Stay wildly ambitious. ... Stop thinking that you’re special." solution. Unfortunately this is quite contradictory. Wildly ambitious implies that you think you are special. If you evaluate yourself as a so-so-violin-player and yet stay wildly ambitious about being world's top violinist, you'll likely have a problem when your ambitions crash with your actual skills at some point. Yeah, it's possible that you have hidden talent and that hard work will make it happen, but likely if you're not special, your wild ambitions might be too wild. Anyway this goes into reduced expectations bucket that you and others have mentioned separately.

- Fulfilling career. This is another tougher one than couple lines afforded it in the article. BTW, Buffett (and Munger I think) also suggest that you should do what you like to do. Yet, this is another "I want to play guitar all my life. (But society does not want to pay for 10M mediocre guitar players)" situation. This is not an easy one to address: I feel for people who want to work in fields that are not appreciated by society, but it's unlikely that society will change for them anytime soon (maybe when robots do everything and there's no productive work for humans at all).

- The taunting. I have a feeling that author here just had a thought to connect Lucy with his Mammoth article. I don't know if this is really a widespread issue. Anecdotally speaking, none of my friends complain about "everyone else is doing great, my life sucks" phenomenon. But, yes, I don't know many Americans in their 20s, so I might be in wrong crowd. "ignore everyone else" is also too generalized suggestion (I might write another post about the Mammoth post, but this is OT here and I need more time to read it :) ).

 

I think that other people on this thread have other thoughts that nicely complement the article. And the article would have been much better if it addressed some of the things people said here.

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'happiness = reality  -  expectation , hit the gym, work hard and delete facebook!'

 

Not bad.

 

OT:

Facebook for me works as curated set of links to interesting articles on the web. Similar to Liberty postings in CoBF.  8) I look there once a month or so and read some articles that people linked to. I think Facebook figured this out and the top posts are now pretty much people linking to articles.

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Hyperinsulinemia is what I'm referring to with regards to the sugar in the diet comment.  Too much insulin blocks leptin, so your brain doesn't get the signal to stop eating, and the insulin drives your glucose into the fat cells which leaves you feeling energy depleted.  And you get obese from this.

 

Also the processed foods lack fiber which would normally suppress the insulin levels.

 

Yup. Sugar is a killer ...as are processed foods which, very non-technically expressed, effectively breakdown into sugar in your bloodstream.

 

No way for the average person to get in awesome shape in your late 30s / 40s / 50s without focusing on this.

 

 

 

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This discussion is not about destroying the thesis of the article. I did not say the article was wrong - although it is a bit one-sided and now that I think about it self-contradictory. I said it was shallow (compared for example with his articles on AI, Fermi paradox, Elon Musk, etc.).

 

Maybe a "shallow C+" grade fells worse to me than it does to you :)

 

Couple thoughts:

- Self-contradiction: Author says that "GYPSYs Are Delusional" and then goes with "Stay wildly ambitious. ... Stop thinking that you’re special." solution. Unfortunately this is quite contradictory. Wildly ambitious implies that you think you are special. If you evaluate yourself as a so-so-violin-player and yet stay wildly ambitious about being world's top violinist, you'll likely have a problem when your ambitions crash with your actual skills at some point. Yeah, it's possible that you have hidden talent and that hard work will make it happen, but likely if you're not special, your wild ambitions might be too wild. Anyway this goes into reduced expectations bucket that you and others have mentioned separately.

- Fulfilling career. This is another tougher one than couple lines afforded it in the article. BTW, Buffett (and Munger I think) also suggest that you should do what you like to do. Yet, this is another "I want to play guitar all my life. (But society does not want to pay for 10M mediocre guitar players)" situation. This is not an easy one to address: I feel for people who want to work in fields that are not appreciated by society, but it's unlikely that society will change for them anytime soon (maybe when robots do everything and there's no productive work for humans at all).

- The taunting. I have a feeling that author here just had a thought to connect Lucy with his Mammoth article. I don't know if this is really a widespread issue. Anecdotally speaking, none of my friends complain about "everyone else is doing great, my life sucks" phenomenon. But, yes, I don't know many Americans in their 20s, so I might be in wrong crowd. "ignore everyone else" is also too generalized suggestion (I might write another post about the Mammoth post, but this is OT here and I need more time to read it :) ).

 

I think that other people on this thread have other thoughts that nicely complement the article. And the article would have been much better if it addressed some of the things people said here.

 

I saw it differently. To me the article is not about the impossibility of doing special things or succeeding. The way they use "you are not special", and imply that you are not "the protagonist of the world's story" means "good things you want won't happen to you just by being you, you have to work for them, it'll require some patience".

 

Hence the graphics showing the expectations of good things happening right from the start.

 

I don't see it as a contradiction, because the article is not about "you have to lower your expectations and aim low", just about "you have to calibrate your expectations and realize that these things don't just happen on their own" and "it's not because your parents had it better than their parents that you'll automatically have it better than yours".

 

I don't really think the article was really about the wannabe rock star syndrome "I want to play guitar and be paid millions but it's not happening waaah waah". I saw it as a more down to earth "I want a nice house and nice things and a fulfilling career right out of the gate".

 

I thought their example of social media was quite on point, but I guess it depends who you follow. I don't really use facebook, but I follow a lot of people (use it as a kind of inbox if they want to direct message me), and a lot of what I see are photos from trips, new cars, weddings, big houses, people having fun, people at sports events and concerts, etc. It's a bit similar to how earlier TV had an impact on people by showing them a life they don't have (notice how every cop in movies lives in a mansion?). I don't think people will explicitly complain about that, but it certainly doesn't help expectations to have this filter that distorts things and shows us an infinite number of people having a good time when our brains have evolved to be in a small tribe and compute social status relatively.

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Hyperinsulinemia is what I'm referring to with regards to the sugar in the diet comment.  Too much insulin blocks leptin, so your brain doesn't get the signal to stop eating, and the insulin drives your glucose into the fat cells which leaves you feeling energy depleted.  And you get obese from this.

 

Also the processed foods lack fiber which would normally suppress the insulin levels.

 

Yup. Sugar is a killer ...as are processed foods which, very non-technically expressed, effectively breakdown into sugar in your bloodstream.

 

No way for the average person to get in awesome shape in your late 30s / 40s / 50s without focusing on this.

Not to derail the thread but I think that all carbs (even the non processed ones such as potatoes and rice) break down into sugars essentially.  The sugar intake might affect health or brain function but as far as fat/lean tissue composition goes I'm fairly convinced that getting into good shape at that age is still a function of macronutrient intake portioned in a specific way coupled with exercise! 

 

The only difference is metabolism and maybe lower testosterone (speaking to men) at the upper end of the age distribution you listed.

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I don't really think the article was really about the wannabe rock star syndrome "I want to play guitar and be paid millions but it's not happening waaah waah". I saw it as a more down to earth "I want a nice house and nice things and a fulfilling career right out of the gate".

 

I am not sure if you are aiming this at what I said, but my point was that even "I want to play a guitar and have a nice house from doing it" might be unrealistic. I know too many musicians who are programmers because they would not have a nice house otherwise.

 

OTOH, a friend's daughter at roughly GYPSY age went to college, majored in something like art (?) with year of studies-abroad archaeology in Greece, then wrote YA book and got published. So apparently some of the special things happen even in very tough fields...

 

Anyway, I mostly agree with you. You did read the article a bit differently than me - that's cool. :)

 

I thought their example of social media was quite on point, but I guess it depends who you follow. I don't really use facebook, but I follow a lot of people (use it as a kind of inbox if they want to direct message me), and a lot of what I see are photos from trips, new cars, weddings, big houses, people having fun, people at sports events and concerts, etc.

 

I see. That's not my experience in Facebook at all. Different crowds I guess.

 

OT. I also don't get envy from trips/cars/weddings/houses. I do get envy from other things - professional achievements mostly - that are not on FB. I also read waitbutwhy article about FB etiquette and I think I disagree with him in certain cases, but again that's OT.

 

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Hyperinsulinemia is what I'm referring to with regards to the sugar in the diet comment.  Too much insulin blocks leptin, so your brain doesn't get the signal to stop eating, and the insulin drives your glucose into the fat cells which leaves you feeling energy depleted.  And you get obese from this.

 

Also the processed foods lack fiber which would normally suppress the insulin levels.

 

Yup. Sugar is a killer ...as are processed foods which, very non-technically expressed, effectively breakdown into sugar in your bloodstream.

 

No way for the average person to get in awesome shape in your late 30s / 40s / 50s without focusing on this.

Not to derail the thread but I think that all carbs (even the non processed ones such as potatoes and rice) break down into sugars essentially.  The sugar intake might affect health or brain function but as far as fat/lean tissue composition goes I'm fairly convinced that getting into good shape at that age is still a function of macronutrient intake portioned in a specific way coupled with exercise! 

 

The only difference is metabolism and maybe lower testosterone (speaking to men) at the upper end of the age distribution you listed.

 

Agree. Almost all carbs are bad, however certain beans and lentils do not spike the glycemic index. If you are working out hard and often, some of these types of low glycemic index carbs become more necessary.

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