Friday, September 16, 2011

Three fairy tales

I had an insight today. Much of the pain in life can be traced to my belief in one or more of three fairy tales.

1. Most people eat what they want, as much as they want, as often as they want, and they suffer no adverse consequences for this behavior, I.e., they are at the weight they want, have the body contours they want, and rarely deny themselves a food/eating experience they want.

2. Most people have romantic relationships that develop effortlessly with each participant confident in their position in the relationship, comfortable with the pace of the relationship, always sure of, and comfortable with, the next step in the relationship.

3. Most people are rewarded professionally according to their abilities and the degree to which they contribute positively to the organization. Success is the inevitable consequence of the diligent and faithful application of hard work, skill and integrity.

Stopped laughing yet?

Of course, I "know" these are fairy tales. The extent to which I believe that these fallacies do not operate in my consciousness is exactly the extent to which they exercise an unseen influence on my conclusions concerning how well things are going. That is, the more I believe that I don't really buy into these notions the more I kick myself for not living a life which lives up to them.

It's like advertising. Advertisers know well that advertising messages exert the greatest influence over people who have convinced themselves that advertising has no effect on them. Advertising has little effect on people who are aware of the fact that they can be influenced by advertising. These people factor in that fact into their buying decision. They know their opinions about what to buy are skewed by advertising and that very awareness mitigates the effect. I thought about this just today when buying batteries at Radio Shack. I almost paid more for the brand name batteries until I reflected on the fact that I have no experience that they are any better or last any longer than the cheaper house brand batteries. So, I bought the house brand.

When I realize that my dissatisfaction with my life mostly derives from the fact that I buy into one of these three fairy tales it dissipates as rapidly as my preference for the brown batteries over the black ones. What are your fairy tales?