Thursday, March 31, 2011

Being what we are. Genetics and Buddhism?

Because if we are what we are, and we can't change it that much--if, that is, we're basically who we are, composed of the same basic personality traits throughout our lives--and sure, let's say these personality traits are the branches to our tree of personality, and the leaves come and go and change different colors based on how much water or sugar or food or sunlight we receive--then we can really step back and relax, unless, of course, it isn't in our nature to relax.  Then we'll ceaselessly try to change ourselves anyway.  I mean, the self-help industry is serious business--a quickie google search says 2.8-6 billion is spent on self-help each year--and the idea behind self-help is that we can, of course, change the way our branches grow.  But maybe we can't really change them that much, or, in other words, the direction or amount of growth is basically set and not determined by our effort that much.

I'm sitting in a city and looking at people that I'm sure would disagree.  There's a lot of push here, and pull.  Still, many people say they're unhappy at work, right? And unhappy in relationships.  And unhappy at home.  So there's the big three: work, relationship, and residential life, in whatever form they take.  Of course, there are a lot of unknowns.  And the way we interact is highly complex. What we've developed as humans isn't just a highly complex language system, though.  We also have a hugely refined emotional palate.  Lots of things we feel are, at least, as we feel them, inexpressible in words. 

Anyway, I'm not sure where I fall on this, and I know this is an incomplete post.  I'm not ready to give up the strong impact that thinking about incentives makes in our lives, in policy decisions, personal, and where we choose to live.  At the same time, we have to learn to segregate out our highly evolved emotional selves from that which we cannot control, somehow.  The problem, or part of the problem, is that a lot of stuff pushes directly into our basic stimulus of pleasure and pain and cuts our reactions into a highly pressured realm, when, perhaps, they need not be so pressured.

More on this soon, as I'm short of time.  But if we're each like a tree, we can struggle, or we can, in a way, choose not to struggle.

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