(Why We Do Not Get Happier)
The amount of constraints imposed on the average person is astonishing upon inspection.
Most people are employed most of their day. This limits their choice, and even the possibilities they dare to think about.
Coming home after 9-10 working hours (including commute), can we expect much to "do" then? I suspect that after a straining work day, the very consciousness, self-control, even thinking may be a weak option.
Take sleep. There are reports that plentiful of sleep makes mood and health much better. Now, after a working day, there are few hours left for socialization, relationships, dancing etc. We are usually limited by habits of freinds. So we are faced with a very strange choice between losing sleep for the sake of getting the minimum of socializatin "fun" and self-centered activities, or give up the little left ofr ourselves for the sake fo healthy sleep.
Both options are problematic. Now the average person is practically limited to these two choices only. Whatever he chooses I cannot criticize him. He does not have a third option (ok. there are always zillion more options. I am talking on the most basic level).
Self-control. We are so limited with our ability to control ourselves. "Be disciplined" turns out to be a stupid advice many times. Social scientist Roy Baumeister shows that our capabilities for self-control are limited. after exercizing self-control we get "tired" and much weaker at it. (excersices involving self-control actually improve our self-control ability).
Limits in our ability to self-control ourselves are constraints like any other constraints. If I cannot hold myself into things I cannot. Period.
Earlier habit, opinions, and perceptions. The things we got accustomed to, control us. No matter how sharp and decisive we are. Our opinions. The questins we ask. What we consider changable and unchangable. While in a very loofty theory one do not see how these things control us, the do.
Example: Which marraige is better "arranged marriage" or "love marriage"? It is a tought call and as Cognitive/happiness researcher Daniel Gilbert says "there is little good data about this". As far as we know arranged marraige are better and at least not worse than love marraiges.
Does this imply that the average Westerner shoudl prefer arranged marraige for himself? I do not think.
Constraints 1: Living in our society, one do not have the mates to marry by "arranged marriage". You can have a wonderful marriage but no mate.
Constraints 2: Growing up here, one does not have the mental capacity to enter arranged marraige. It will feel so weired. Maybe one would not hold in the arranged marraige even if he will start it.
So life is full with constraints. and the whole bunch of constraints disable us form many things. Many things that feel on paper doable, are impractical in reality.
Much of why people do not improve their life lies in the constraints business. There are so many constraints. They are so convoluted at times. So taking hold on us, on the management of our time, on all little details that are crucial for the very execution of things in life.
Changing things with all constraints in mind maybe a direction to improve life. But it is quite tricky. I may talk more on it in a later post. When I will start about optimistic direction to imporove happiness.