Written April 28, 2021:
What Really Matters
Ever since the world (began lol) seemingly came to a halt: international and inter city alike borders closed, both small and big non-essential businesses closed (some unfortunately for good), offices and schools closed, and people asked to stay at home, I could not help but wonder how human beings, being social animals, will adapt.
If there is prevalent discontentment and widespread unhappiness in the normal world BC (before COVID-19) as we know it, what kind of pandemonium will social isolation cause? At the start of the lockdown, the thought of an entire month in quarantine drove me crazy! What am I supposed to do at home? Now it has already been almost 13 and a half months. The good news is, I survived! The bad news is I am lost (where do I belong?), anxious (what is in store for me and my daughter in the future?), and dejected (I know this too shall pass, but when?).
When I look around at what is happening, yes there are certain events that give me hope (community pantry, for one), but generally there is still more toxicity than positivity. In our world today, where both the rich and the poor could not get medical care because there is simply shortage of both facilities and health care providers, what really matters?
“In explaining why the wealthiest people are not the happiest, Daniel Kahneman argues that as we get more money, we adapt our expectations upward, and so we aspire to ever more lofty and expensive pleasures – a treadmill that never ends, even for billionaires. As he puts it, “The rich may experience more pleasure than the poor, but they also require more pleasure to be equally satisfied.”
But Kahneman’s research also suggests one way to escape from the hedonic treadmill: a life rich in rewarding relationships. The two most pleasurable activities were making love and socializing. Least enjoyable were the daily commute and work. And the rankings of which people primed happiness? Here is the list, from top to bottom:
Spouse or partner
Clients or customers
Among people around the world, nourishing relationships are the single most universally agreed-upon feature of the good life. While the specifics vary from culture to culture, all people everywhere deem warm connections with others to be the core feature of optimal human existence.”
Reading this chapter on the book Social Intelligence gives me hope. Apparently, a life rich in rewarding relationships is what really matters. Being single and honestly still not completely healed, it is reassuring that (at least according to research) at top of the list is friends and relatives. It may be why I like the show FRIENDS so much and why Samantha Jones in SATC for me is the epitome of a contented and happy single woman.
Given all this and considering the state of our planet right now, how do we (re)connect and nourish our relationships? A text message is a far cry from an actual conversation, a zoom meeting is a poor substitute for a face to face conference and a video call, well… it is physically impossible to hug someone virtually.
I suppose like what humans always do, we adapt. We send more heartfelt and longer messages, we make zoom meetings a little bit more engaging and interesting, we exercise, meditate, try to sleep well and hope that someday soon we would get to finally see and be with our loved ones.
Are you clear on what and who really matters in your life?
PS. Photo does not have anything to do with my post at all. I just want you to know that I had a good hair (woke up like this) day. Lol.
Update: after almost 2 years, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of realizations during the pandemic (and lockdowns) made me see things differently. Including what really matters, the relationships we have with the people who matters to us. Spouse or partner may only be third on the list, but I am still on it.