Why Do We Put Up With Unhappiness?

Most people, I think, would say they try to be happy. They want to construct their lives in such a way as to maximize happiness (however they might define ‘happiness’).

But in reality, unhappiness abounds. Unrest radiates from nearly every news broadcast. Stress levels deprive us of sleep, lead to overeating, and generally make us unhealthy.

Where does this discontinuity between desire (happiness) and reality (unhappiness) come from? If someone wants to be happy, why aren’t they? Why do we put up with unhappiness?

Related questions: Is happiness the most important purpose in life? What motivates us? Why don’t we know what makes us happy?

How Do We Know What We Don’t Know?

Even the most learned among us is ignorant. There is so much to know about our world that it is impossible to know it all. How, then, do we categorize what we don’t know? If we don’t know something, how do we realize that there is a gap in our knowledge? When we examine ourselves, how can we tell if there is a lack or some learning that needs to be done?

How do we know what we don’t know?

Related questions: How do we grow? What does it mean to learn? How do we organize knowledge?

Why Do We Care What Strangers Think Of Us?

Public speaking is a common fear. People, it seems, are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of a large audience, and losing public approval.

Why should that be? If someone speaks in front of a large group of strangers, why should their reaction matter? Setting aside an instance, say, like a job interview, where a stranger’s impression of you has something to do with your future, what difference should it make whether complete strangers, who we have never met before and will never see again, should like or approve of us?

Why do we care what strangers think of us?

Related questions: Where do our fears come from? When is embarrassment a good thing? Why do we behave differently alone or in large groups?

When Is It Useful To Fail?

The saying goes, “I would have rather have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.”  Is this true?  Doesn’t some failure have far too lasting and unwanted consequences?  Still, we would learn or experience very little if we stuck to doing what’s already comfortable to us.  And, trying new things we might fail at for awhile can be enriching and exciting.

So, when is it useful to fail?  What level of failure do you find acceptable?  What are your limits?

Related questions:  How do you define success?  Do we learn more from our successes or failures?  Is it okay to be wrong sometimes?

How Can We Maintain Wonder?

The older you get and the more experiences you have, the easier it is to become jaded. However, a sense of wonder at the marvels of the world help to motivate us, and drive us to learn and appreciate life more.

So how to resist that creeping sense of boredom or frustration? How can we maintain wonder?

Related questions: What are the pros and cons of experience? What can be learned from children? How do we learn?