Of windows, doors, and fish in the sea.

This has been an interesting week for me. Why beat around the bush? It’s been a miserable week. Four, what should I call them – disappointments, i-knew-this-would-happen’s, i-should-have-seen-this-coming’s, still-it’s-not-the-end-of-the-world’s, c’mon-you’ve-been-through-worse’s or my favorite at-least-i-have-my-blog-and-my-health’s in seven days. Two out of the four were pretty solid whacks to the heart and ego. The other two would have gone by almost unnoticed were it not for their timing – their contribution is invaluable in giving life that perfect degree of bleakness.

As my back-end processors work on a pep-talk for myself, I am going to bore y’all for a while by examining the common theories of happiness / sadness to see if I can pick the right model for myself:

Alternating peak-trough theory. Sometimes, I think I put too much faith in the peak-trough philosophy – the one about life being filled with alternating troughs and peaks. This makes me feel entitled to a peak every time I hit a trough and fear a trough the minute I hit a peak. So I spend my whole life dreading peaks, because only a trough can follow & the bigger the peak, the deeper the trough, and so on. And what if some lives are all troughs or all peaks? It is, after all, as valid a theory as the alternating peak-trough one.

Widow-door theory or the “when a door is closed, a window opens” hypothesis. People really should have never bought this theory in the first place. From the very name window/door, you know they’re pulling a fast one over you. The scale’s all wrong. A DOOR closed. And a window is clearly a completely inadequate consolation prize. The door’s usually of the magnitude of losing the love of your life, and the window’s like your boss telling you that you’re wearing nice shoes. Nice try, boss-man – can I be offered a day off?

Post-mortem settlement. This is very similar to the alternating peak-trough theory, but the crucial difference is that the time frame is considerably longer, and possibly never-ending. This one proposes that by facing tough times, you’re either repaying debt from a couple of generations ago, or shoring up for future generations. I have many problems with this theory. One of which is that according to this theory, the act of dying is less powerful than declaring bankruptcy is and say what you will, that just saddens me.

Plenty of other fish in the sea theory: I suspect that this is the old window-door theory rebranded for fishermen.

Shit happens: Why are we so enamoured of patterns anyway? Why seek logic? Life is random. So long as one doesn’t have to hear the story of a butterfly in Shanghai causing a storm in California, I think I’m actually ok with this one.

I don’t know why I started this post, but when have we ever let minor things like that stop us? I must work on my pep talk now.

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6 comments so far

  1. inlivenout on

    “Shit happens” is an outstanding theory.The only other theory that holds my interest after the one on relativity ;-p

    PS:It reminds me of “Forrest Gump” 🙂

  2. Falstaff on

    Doz: You left out my favourite – That which does not kill you, makes you stronger; aka ‘it helps build character’

    That theory, is, of course, closely allied with the “how can you be new if you have not first been ashes”, or (as Emerson puts it): the ‘when half-gods go / the gods arrive’ theory. That’s a bit like the peak-trough theory, except that height (depth) of the peaks (troughs) keeps increasing over time, so it’s the constant movement away from local maxima.

    Purely for the sake of completeness, let me also point you to the ‘time heals all wounds’ theory – which personally I’ve always found fairly pointless. The question I’ve always wanted to ask when someone says that to me is yes, but at what rate? And how does that compare with the rate at which you get new wounds? Let’s say Time takes an average time t to heal a wound. And life gives you wounds at the rate r wounds / unit time. Then if 1/t

  3. DoZ on

    Fastaff: 🙂 The bit about the local maxima went over my head. But completely agree with you about the rest. Another problem with the Time theory is what happens when time is the problem?

  4. Falstaff on

    The local maxima point is this – imagine a series of peaks and troughs where each peak is higher than the previous one and each trough is lower. Any given peak in this system is a local maxima – any movement away from this peak will seem to be a reduction in happiness – because from that point there’s nowhere you can immediately go but down; but eventually, coming off that peak will allow you to get to the next peak which is higher than the peak you were at. So you could do better in the overall system, but only by doing worse in the short-run.

  5. DoZ on

    Falstaff, thank you for deciphering that for me.

    “you could do better in the overall system, but only by doing worse in the short-run” – that’s the “ultimately it all works out for the best” theory. Anything to keep us suckers going, eh?

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