Erroneous Paths Wisely evaluate before expending time, energy and money
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The amount and conflicting advice for living healthy is overwhelming. Once there is a demand, entrepreneurs charge to capitalize on that demand. The field becomes flooded. Information isn’t bad if we can reasonably know it’s reliable; unfortunately, often it’s not. After spending several decades in the fitness industry, I discovered the underlying motivation behind new fitness products wasn’t well-being but the attractiveness of the fitness product. The happiness market is no different. People don’t buy books, rush to motivational conferences, or dispense with precious money unless the product excites.
Over the last century, happiness has become the goal instead of the enjoyable consequence of achieving an ethical and constructive life. We consume products that promise happiness, not because of the good they produce—to self or others—but because they feel good. Suppliers fill the shelves, aisles and web pages with products that promise happiness. The demand for the product is driven by consumers’ desires for happiness. The products capability to improve the quality of life isn’t necessary; it just needs consumers to believe it will. Instead of money expended conducting scientific experiments testing effectiveness, the money is channeled to marketing to determine profitability.
Often beneficial behaviors take time to marinate before they bloom into greater well-being. We must courageously cling to wisdom, and persistently move forward.
Many ideas inspire pleasant sensations that are neither true nor beneficial, while other ideas create discomfort are true and beneficial. Misinterpreted meanings behind feelings motivate behaviors that may lead us off track. We desire a flawless guidance system so seasoned well-being specialist offer philosophical soothing promising what we desire. We want cognitive ease through simple implementation requiring little personal investment. Promises to fulfill desires are readily accepted. They don’t demand difficult mental or behavioral efforts; 19.99 + shipping and handling and your life will be better.
Changing behavioral trajectories requires effort, facing engrained habits, protective thinking, and persistently forcing actions opposing these practiced reactions. This doesn’t feel good. Challenging ego protecting thoughts doesn’t feel good; resisting chemical dependencies doesn’t feel good; listening to corrective advice doesn’t feel good; sacrificing the present for better futures doesn’t feel good. At least at first these changes don’t feel good. But eventually, as new behaviors prove worth and we cognitively connect those behaviors to future blessings, the behaviors produce pleasantness.
We shouldn’t simply ignore feelings. Feelings offer insights into connections between the past and present; not necessarily in Freudian depth but associated causing unhelpful emotional upheavals and faulty guidance. Once we recognize a feeling, we can search for cause and meaning; but only when these searches prove helpful. Sometimes causes are securely hidden; fruitless searches frustrate, and create vulnerability to planted false ideas. Sometimes we must accept the disruptions but oppose those emotions by acting in constructive ways.
Well-being advice including ‘always’ or ‘never’ usually oversimplifies reality, bunching everyone into a concrete, inflexible box, ignoring the wide range of experience, and differing feelings and motivations behind behaviors; but all-inclusive directions appeals providing cognitive ease, no measuring, skeptical analysis, just go and do it. ALWAYS and NEVER ignores complexity (usually). These over-reaching statements need skeptical examination.
We want to feel good—the pleasure principle. Our emotions are an ancient guiding system. The world has rapidly changed—evolution can’t keep pace. We face an increasingly complex world. Our cognitive apparatus is designed to navigate complexity in conjunction with the emotions. We absorb learning from those around us, gathering skills and knowledge essential to competitively survive in this complex society, developing habits and behaviors that include the future; not simply pleasure in the moment. The increasing complexity doesn’t make feelings obsolete but does place increasing demand on the thinking system.
Be skeptical of new ideas. Be slow to abandon proven constructive behaviors because someone promises a shortcut. Look a little deeper. Look for evidence. Ask a few questions. Are there confirming studies? Who conducted the studies? Where did the idea come from? Is the idea all-encompassing ignoring complexity? We are human; we occasionally will be duped. Upon first contact we like an idea because it sounds right (it feels good), but with a little further examination, a few probing questions, we discover the error and may continue productive living.