“Feelings don’t matter.”
I don’t think anyone currently or formerly close to me would accuse me of heartlessness, but I’ve also been known—especially when it was convenient for my argument—to reduce human emotion to some bullshit little thing that weak people allow to control them.
Maybe all but the most empathetic members of humanity think and do this too.
Feelings Don’t Matter isn’t such a bad life mantra.
I’m strongly anti-divorce, and I consider it tragic that millions of people think and feel Love for one another and publicly promise to do so forever, only to take it all back and break their relationships, homes and families a few years later because they don’t “feel” it anymore.
I’ve written about hedonic adaptation a bunch of times because I believe it’s such a strong contributor to the world’s divorce and crappy-relationship problem, and I don’t think very many people are aware of it or talk enough about it.
Because you’re a human being, you very naturally (not because something is wrong with you) become less emotionally responsive to good things in your life as your brain adjusts to them.
New songs. New houses. New cars. New pay raises. New clothes. New jobs. New dating relationships.
These things make us FEEL good. Very good. They make us feel excited. A tidal wave of emotional motivation to invest your time, your money, and your mental and emotional energy into this awesome new positive thing in your life.
But you get used to them. They become routine. Ordinary. And all the sudden they don’t trigger those same feelings of excitement in you.
Call it the Universe’s way of keeping us motivated. The cave-people had everything they needed once they discovered fire. Between that and their stone tools, life improved about a gazillion percent.
Instead of calling it a day and spending the rest of human history spearing fish and roasting woodland creatures over an open fire, people kept pursuing more.
I like movies, football, video games, vacations, automobiles, typing keyboards, the internet and life expectancies beyond our twenties. So I’m glad we didn’t stop at fire.
Of course, the downside is that awesome things seem less awesome once I get used to them.
I don’t wake up every day with the intention of being an ungrateful douchebag, but inevitably, I say or think things that only ungrateful douchebags say and think. I forget that I have electricity, modern health care, sanitary water, the use of my arms and legs, massive HD televisions, etc. I forget that other people watch their children die because of mosquito bites and literally don’t know where their next meal will come from.
I forget that every day.
Hedonic adaptation is why. I’m used to houses, cars, modern conveniences, and even a few luxuries. My Wi-Fi was out a few weekends ago.
I couldn’t play PUBG on Xbox for like, a day, and you would have thought the world had ended.
I even called AT&T’s internet people twice, and I hate being on the phone with customer service people.
It occurs to me that—in that moment—my feelings mattered.
Whether I’m evaluating my old sins or new ones, I think I’m the dumbest smart person I know.
Dismissing Emotion is Stupid, Hypocritical and Will Probably Ruin Your Relationships
I thought I was so fucking smart back when I was telling my wife how silly she was to let her emotions control her like that.
I think through things. Some would say I overthink. And after dissecting and closely inspecting the idea of letting emotions drive human behavior, I concluded how foolish it was.
Because how I feel can change in an instant.
Good news makes me happy.
Bad news makes me mad or sad.
Sometimes my fourth-grader acts like a little penis-face and I get angry with him, but then I’ll drop him off at school knowing I won’t see him for a couple of days and totally melt—all traces of anger and frustration gone.
I concluded MANY years ago that if I simply did what I “felt” like all the time, I would:
- Lack money because I probably wouldn’t show up regularly for work.
- Have a morally questionable and unhealthy sex life.
- Be a shitty father.
- Likely be in prison for vehicular homicide because other drivers are assholes and deserved it.
You get it.
We shouldn’t let such fickle and constantly changing things drive our decisions, should we?
LeBron James (local hero here in Ohio) at age 33, and Tom Brady (non-local hero playing professional football in Massachusetts) at age 40, spend ungodly amounts of money on their bodies in the form of personal chefs, expensive disciplined diets, and expensive disciplined workout regimens which have both of them setting new standards for player performance in their respective sports after playing as many games as each of them have.
Their longevity—true or not—is largely linked to their disciplined lifestyle choices.
They make good choices, then good things happen.
I think most of us fundamentally understand that when we make “good,” disciplined, responsible choices, the results are positive.
When you sacrifice financially in the present to save money, you can often retire comfortably.
When you sacrifice nightlife to get plenty of sleep, you often go through the day feeling better than when sleep-deprived.
When you sacrifice physical excursion in order to be physically fit, you tend to look better, feel better, and improve your overall quality of life.
Basically, all of life is this way. Good choices = good results. Bad choices = bad results.
Some people make bad choices because they don’t know any better.
But most of us? Most of us who make bad choices do so despite knowing better.
We choose the cheeseburger over the salad. The milkshake over the tea. The snooze button over the work. The alcohol over harsh reality. The orgasm over all kinds of different life-enhancing alternatives depending on your relationship status and/or the methods for doing so.
Conclusion: No matter how much the calculated analysis, thoughtful logic, or macho tough-guy “wisdom” might dissuade us from making—or even respecting—emotion-driven decisions, the TRUTH of life is that shit’s going to go down in the hearts and minds of pretty much everyone we know, and they’re going to want and need certain things for reasons we may or may not understand.
And if those people going through these things happen to be people who agreed years ago to be our adult partners and are now feeling constantly disrespected and fucked with by our apparent lack of concern for the things they care about, they’re highly likely to make choices one way or another that end with them not being our adult partners anymore.
Maybe they’ll even go poach an egg.
Sure, feelings are bullshit.
Sure, feelings are fleeting. Neither we nor they will feel like this next week or next month. Maybe neither of us will even remember this five years from now.
Sure, we shouldn’t let something fickle and fleeting guide our decisions. But since when did people do what they are SUPPOSED to?!
Life isn’t a predictable math equation like some of us might like it to be.
Life is not If This, Then That, with any of us having a clue what “That” may turn out to be.
Today—right now—some shit that won’t matter to anyone in five years is the most important thing imaginable to someone you care about.
And just maybe if you treat that thing as important BECAUSE you care about the person, something magical will happen.
Or, perhaps at minimum, something horrible won’t.