The Puzzle of Life
Navigating the Complexity to Discover Happiness
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2013 (edited 2020)
Life is complex, not easily described in words. True wisdom is discovered from accepting the messiness of an unknowable world.
We want concrete answers—defined problems with clear resolutions. Some questions are answered with simplicity; many are not. Professional marketers coax us with simple paths to success—invest this way, behave that way. Because marketing research knows that is what we want. Make it simple, stupid. Sometimes this is helpful; but not perfect. Success is complex. A fail-proof algorithmic equation doesn’t exist—flourishing isn’t guaranteed. Success is very subjective. Experts argue over the end goal whether it is health, happiness or flourishing. We often engage in marketed self-improvement programs without knowing the programmers designer’s definition of success. He may not even know. Often the only goal is to sell the product you just purchased.
We need a more open and flexible approach. We must experiment with various possibilities and devise novel solution. This approach begins at birth and ends at death, continuously tinkering and adjusting to find just the right ingredients. And once we discover the perfect formula, life changes again.
Personal Responsibility for Happiness
Many will proclaim divine discovery—happiness, they proclaim, is simple. With cute, catchy sayings, they market simplicity, ignoring the complex realities of living. When we blindly follow a philosophy, even one built on a foundation of truth, we stray from an essential characteristic required for growth. We must take responsibility for our lives. Mindfully examining new programs for effectiveness. Self-empowerment is a product of choice—not resignation to outer forces. We will constantly encounter unproven simplicities, tempting our departure from the difficult paths of complexity.
What is Complexity of Life
Our complex existence, both externally and internally, relies on countless forces that interact in diverse and various ways. We can identify some of the causes for existence but full understanding lies beyond the capability of our finite minds. Science unveils countless associations but often fails to determine why some subjects diverge from the predictions. We are complex beings, with trillions of neuronal connections, processing a complex universe. Life will always refuse to be defined.
We Must Use Caution
Any book, course, fb posting, or belief system that boils human happiness to a simple algorithmic solution must be evaluated with healthy skepticism. Ideas may be helpful, based on scientifically proven theories, but we still must work to integrate them into our unique experience. Sometimes new ideas don’t fit, and we must continue our search. Join with me in this heroic journey of fulfillment. I don’t have the answers. I, like others, am biased by my experiences of pleasure and pain. Tinker and adjust my views as you experiment. See how each piece fits into your individual puzzle life.
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