“How does that make you feel?”
We live in strange times, a time when society bombards us with the “feels over everything else” narrative almost every day. At no other point of time have we been so explicitly bothered about feelings and emotions as we are today.
When someone gets taunted for being out of shape, we focus more on how the victim feels. We don’t acknowledge that the person doing the taunting actually has a point.
When someone gets fired at work, we instinctively sympathize with that person. Rather than question if that person was doing anything good at work in the first place.
We appear to care more about respecting personal opinions and preferences, even if they are factually incorrect and are self-serving.
Throughout the course of history human progress has depended upon people who cared more about objectives and outcomes than about feelings and emotions. Men who went to war did so because they had to, not because they felt good about it. When explorers went into unchartered territory, they sure as hell weren’t feeling pleasant. If not for a few of these folks who didn’t care a rat’s ass about how they felt, humankind may have never discovered the USA.
Almost every step that led to scientific discovery and technological progress was due to a person who placed that particular objective as the central point of life, not because the said person wanted to feel good. The wheel wasn’t invented because the inventor felt like inventing something, he was most probably looking to build something that could a solve a real problem and make life better.
Eating well, sleeping well, socializing and fucking around make us feel good; but they also get us nowhere by themselves. The last time I checked there wasn’t a Nobel Prize for leading a life of contentment or for being a great husband or a mother. Those may not be easy things to do, but what is tougher is to focus on achieving something that can make life better for you, the folks around you and for humanity in general.
Can’t we do both well?
Let’s keep it real, shall we? Life isn’t chick literature where there is an abundance of people who are good looking, driven, successful and sensitive. And this isn’t a Mills & Boon story.
I tend to do my most constructive work when I am pissed off, either at myself or at the situation. Contentment has never driven me to give it my all. In a bull market people sit back and count their earnings. When a crisis hits, people get to work since the urgency of the situation drives them to go well beyond what they are capable of during normal times.
“Peace has cost you your strength, victory has defeated you”
Bane in The Dark Knight Returns (2012)
When I do a deep dive into a business, it sometimes feels like torture. Try reading 20 reports to understand the industry landscape, then spend some days extracting the relevant data points into an 8-tab spreadsheet. It sure as hell doesn’t feel like contentment or fulfilment when I am doing the work, that only comes later if the thesis plays and I realize I have a winner.
The human body responds to stress that it is not used to by super compensating. This is the same principle at work both in weight training and vaccines. When you hit a personal best on a big lift and get rest and nutrition right, you get stronger. When you introduce the human body to a new organism in a small dose, the body reacts by getting better at dealing with it.
The drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket (1987) had it right
Feelings and emotions are important components of leading a balanced life but they rarely lead to progress or development by themselves. Give them the importance they deserve, but not more. The world needs healthy doses of both masculine and feminine energy. We don’t need a generation of weak ass people (especially men) who are bothered excessively about “how they feel” all the time.
Any person who is excessively concerned about feelings cannot get stuff done. Being nice and contented gets you nowhere, unless you are in a cheesy romantic movie.
To the victor go the spoils, not to the person who cares the most about feelings.
The person who makes his/her life miserable in the quest to succeed becomes the CEO, not the bumbling idiot who cribs about long working hours and believes that love is everything.
The “how does that make you feel” narrative is most probably a subconscious meta test at a global scale to separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls.
The answer to that question should probably be on the lines of “Does it matter so much? Let’s get on with our lives and do what it takes to make our lives better”