This is about the feeling of “falling in love” and other thrills. Let’s start with an ingenious quotation from Mr. C. S. Lewis:

“People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on ‘being in love’ for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to change – not realizing that, when they have changed, the glamor will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in a beautiful place? By no means. In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this is), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in a beauty spot will discover gardening.

This is, I think, one little part of what Christ meant by saying that a thing will not really live until it first dies. It is simply no good trying to keep any thrill: that is the very worst thing you can do. Let the thrill go – let it die away – go on through a period of death into the quieter interest and happiness that follow – and you will find you are living in a world of new thrills all the time. But if you decide to make thrills your regular diet and try to prolong them artificially, they will all get weaker and weaker, and fewer and fewer, and you will be a bored, disillusioned old man for the rest of your life. It is because so few people understand this that you find many middle-aged men and women maundering about their lost youth, at the very age when new horizons ought to be appearing and new doors open all around them. It is much better fun to learn to swim than to go on endlessly (and hopelessly) trying to get back the feeling you had when you first went paddling as a small boy.”

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 110-111

What does that mean? It’s like in a video game: after you mastered one level, you are thrown into a new, a bit similar but harder level, to master that one too. For example, once the thrill of having falling in love went out, still there is the thrill of deep mutual understanding to be discovered.

What is a total failure, however, is if people always seek for the thrill on the same level, as they will get more and more desperate during that search. For example, people who experienced the thrill of seeing a special landscape may go on and on in that, travelling the whole world to seek the craziest landscapes, and still will not find the thrill again that they had with the first few landscapes. And all the while, they miss the thrills of the next level in travelling, which is, for example, to bond with the locals, to learn their language, to learn to understand how they think, to develop relationships with them.

So what makes life interesting? The answer is ludicrously simple: emotions. Mainly the positive ones. But not exclusively, because people maiinly want to be entertained by emotion to lead an interesting life, and just on top of that want a good life (and both interests sometimes even conflict). This desire for emotions is behind much of people’s activity to make their own life interesting:

  • starting a romantic relationship
  • starting a romantic relationship with somebody else
  • “involuntarily” creating relationship drama in ones life, with mixed joy and sadness
  • watching movies
  • reading novels; this allows to experience deep emotions (deeper and more faceted than in movies), without the danger and effort of undergoing these experiences in real life
  • extreme sports
  • meditation, prayer, church going: for many, this is just for the sake of the emotions experienced therein
  • listening to and creating music
  • travelling, which triggers emotions of surprise and curiosity etc.
  • scientific research, which feeds curiosity
  • dealing with and marveling at beautiful objects, plants, animals and people
  • engaging in flirting and courting, including dancing etc.
  • engaging in erotic and sexual activity
  • behavior and accomplishments that feed ones pride and self-esteem

The new (at least, new for me) aspect in the above rationale is: people do not do something, in the first instance, because they are motivated by emotion; instead, they are motivated by the desire to experience emotion. That is a hypothesis that has to be checked by psychological experiments of course, but let’s go a step further and for the rest of this article just assume that it is proven correct already …

From a Christian perspective, one can even argue that emotions have been created by God in order to make life interesting for us. At least we can say, God did not create human beings in a way that enables them to easily undergo emotional boredness for any non-trivial amount of time; such an experience is always a time of suffering for a human being.

To master life, everybody has to develop tools and techniques to trigger emotions which let one experience “interestingness of life”. Because, in many cases such emotions are not triggered by ones current circumstances of life on their own. In a modern world, people’s circumstances of life are mostly just plain boring, esp. for poor and otherwise restricted people.

A women lives to be a mother: you can detect that from what they care about and deal with (people, people, people …) and how they like being a mother. I respect that. It’s a very important contribution as humanity would die out without mothers; men and all of humanity is only “through the women” (which is also a Bible quote, you know).

However, here is a quite bold statement: for the next several hundred years, the foremost role of women should not be motherhood. Because, there are enough people in the world; so many that actively pursuing a motherhood role is not necessary to keep the world population even above a healthy level of 200 million to 2 billion people.

In addition, I would add that it is disrespectful and selfish to produce new people while the world is not fixed yet to prevent the new people from unnecessarily suffering in this world. New children would be born “for the joy of parenthood” only now, while it would be better to wait until the world is fixed. As it is pure chance what particular child will come out when creating one, people can create the very same people, in a statistical sense, when the world is fixed some hundred years in the future. And until then, just keep society large enough to ensure that it will live on.

This logic is (hopefully …) also acceptible for God; if he indeed wants many people to be created for “populating heaven”. It then just takes a bit longer, but the people will be of “better quality”: a fixed world produced more joyyful, less broken people.

So women need to re-define themselves, take over other tasks! This is a very difficult thing to do, given how focused most women currently are to become mothers.

A paid day job makes me feel like a bee: they take away what I have been working for, and give me a cheap surrogate. They take the honey and give me money …

I mean, really: the most rewarding thing of work is to experience the personal, immediate benefit effectuated by the work done. Such as simplifying a task with a self-made tool. Or feeling the personal success, reward and gratitude after having saved someones life. But if they give us money, that totally annulls this effect, because money is an indirection step. Even worse, earned money does not keep its identity, but aggregates with previously earned money to a lump that we then expend without knowing what kind of work is in it …

The most obvious drawback of this alienation by being paid money is ones motivation to work, and ones motivation to reach good results. Paid work is often even work for people I do not know (such as the users of the products I might develop or produce), which means I cannot derive motivation from my later personal gain from the product, and hence will not have the motivation to get the product as good as possible. Instead, I might just have the motivation to get as much money as possible, while minimizing my effort for the product. This is a de-coupling effect between the real thing and its representation in money; such a de-coupling step is possible wherever an indirection is introduced.

Worst, this indirection step was institutionalized: it’s called capitalism.

On persons as systems

What’s really interesting, and I am not aware of anybody who has researched into it, is how do people work as personalities from a systems perspective? Every person can be seen as a psychodynamic system; to maintain proper operation, motivation, enjoyment, relaxation etc. are needed and have to come from some source. Now it will be interesting to see the very different ways how people provide these, and become a working (or non-working) system, within their own environment. This is especialy helpful to understand cultural differences.

And in the same way, open source projects are sociodynamic / psychodynamic systems. And even societies are. Failure arises if these systems cannot maintain their own integrity and stop working properly: open source projects die, societies falter.

So there should be a discipline “social engineering” and “personality engineering” that helps structure people and groups so that they can be working systems. It seems that nobody attempted that yet (on society level, they just focus on money … what a poor abstraction).

On personal disintegration

While we are at this topic, there is another aspect: avoiding personal disintegration. One should take care to keep up ones personality as a system, to keep it from falling apart, that is, disintegration. Because, disintegrated persons are no longer able to live on their own; they are also unable to learn living on their own again; instead, they need “professional help”. A disintegrated person is what is commonly understood as a “broken personality”. Someone who stopped working as a self-supporting system.

There are many “disintegrating forces” in life. Stress, the lack of relaxation times, the expectations of others, substance dependence, other dependences, unhealthy nutrition, lack of fitness, … . The result of disintegration is normally no physical issue, at least not alone. Physical issues like lack of fitness, bad nutrition etc. can contribute, but more important are the mind issues to which these physical issues contribute: lack of motivation, depression, inability to enjoy, lack of visionary goals, feeling a lack of meaning in life etc..

On free will

People still discuss if people have a free will or not. Here is a new approach: the free will might be nothing that has a biological foundation (biology might even hinder it), but free will might be nonetheless present, “purely in software”, that is, in learned brain function. In that respect, the concept of “personhood” might be correct simply because others expect people to behave as persons, and they learn to fulfill these expectations (they learn to behave as persons: being responsible, having a conscience, having a free will). That way, personhood would be a social construct. (Just as free will, so also responsibility, so also moral debt, which are entailed in the concept of personhood.)

I got a new view on communication: non-verbal communication should be considered an asset. Something valuable. People say that 90% of messages are transported non-verbally, so we should see non-verbal communication as increasing the bandwidth of our communication  by a factor of 9!

However, many people see the realm of non-verbal communication rather as a liability, because the messages transmitted are often sent involuntarily, and then misunderstood. To deal with this problem, we simply need to learn to send and to receive non-verbally.

Learning to communicate non-verbally is quite a time-intensive process, but it is necessary to establish a communication link between each two people. Though time-intensive, it is actually great for people who have a shared life anyway: couples, intentional communities etc..

Mastering the channel of non-verbal communication offers many benefits, actually. Especially, it offers more subtle means of communication: ways to express something with less force and less sharpness than possible by any words. (Because words, as explicit entities, have always a lot of inherent weight.) And there are many situations where it is desirable to transport content in a subtle, gentle way.

And here is an idea on how to learn non-verbal communication: you simply need a “feedback mode”, to check what messages you sent (partially unnoticed by you) and what the other party understood. This can be done by agreeing that it is always (at all times in all communication situations) possible to request feedback; which means the other party has to say with absolute naked honesty what he or she understood. That requires a great amount of underlying trust, because saying what one understood also gives deep insights of what one thinks, making woundable. But in partnerships and good friendships, this should be possible.