Sunday, 19 August 2012

Are Goals Ever Worth Accomplishing?

(Essentially this is my thought process on the matter I've brought up before, Escapism and Goal-achieving. It was not fruitful, so if you read my previous posts on this you'll get little from this. But hey, better than no post.)

I am not quite sure of this proposition myself yet. I had previously said (I also said a little here), goals may be something worth accomplishing if the net effort you put in gives you a steady stream of happiness. But is that really the case for most people? Do most people really feel good CONSTANTLY while achieving something? I certainly never have. I've always just felt the pain of the effort when I'm doing it and the pleasure of the fantasy when I'm not. And when a goal is actually achieved, the high that comes from it may be intense, but it can't match Escapism's CONTINUAL emotions produced of similar, though not as intense, calibre.

Could it be that Escapism is always the better choice? Let's dissect what I'd previously said:

"The balance is between effort, goal-punishment, goal-achievement and escapism."
But is it really? Goal-punishment, is simply the idea that not accomplishing things makes us sad. Surely this has the possibility of becoming a complex in some people, but others simply don't care at all. The way I see most people behaving, it looks as if they have very little goal-punishment at all. They have very few goals, too. And these people seem to be genuinely happy, or at least, superficially happy. Could it be that accomplishing goals, from this vague generalisation, is actually not a good thing to do if you want to maximise your utility? But again, it does depend heavily on the person in question - though if we take the mean, and say this is what you should probably do if you are close to the hypothetical average person, then things still work out fine.

Could it be that people NATURALLY maximise their own utility and there is no need for my endless philosophising? I don't think I can believe that, since there are many psychological studies that show that people could be happier with a few life changes. But I think that the fact, as I've said, that most people seem to be happy NOT achieving goals is either a sign that goal-achieving behaviour is not good for one's welfare, or simply my own stupidity presenting itself, as it is really due to how most people are happy anyway, and may be HAPPIER in fact achieving goals. So we're back to square one on this issue.

"Goal-accomplishing is slow-release positive utility that remains more or less constant - like an IV bag."
Is it now? Does that actually happen in most cases? I don't actually know myself, I'd need some kind of study, or at least some help with this one. I think this may vary from person to person. What we would need to know, though, is how many people and what percentage of the human population are like this, so good advice for the average person can be given on whether to achieve goals, relax or do half and half or some other combination.

Also there is the nature of subjectivity. What distinguishes how much utility one pleasure gives from another pleasure? Is goal-achieving behaviour's pleasure 'better' somehow? I think this too may depend on the person - whether one buzz feels better than another.

Does effort = suffering? Certainly the frustration that comes with failing or getting set back on a goal is suffering. How do they balance out? Goals can be extremely hard to achieve or quite easy to achieve, so availability is something of an issue. Escapism is readily available anywhere in the world, even if it is just a spiritual walk in nature or the stories of one's ancestors, though it is more available to richer folks. So as for availability, Escapism clearly wins.

But as for everything else, as I've said, we're right back to square one. I'd need hard evidence before I could start making claims that humanity should stop pursuing goals, or should get off their collective asses and do something. So it seems that it depends heavily on the person in question.

But still, I do believe that some people are misaligned; some people are not maximising their utility and are doing the wrong thing. It is up to you therefore to assess your own situation and attempt to see if you would be better off changing the amount of time you spend achieving goals or performing escapist actions.

I don't write very depressed anymore. I hope you don't mistake that for my worldview having changed, because it hasn't. I don't think much anymore about how absolutely horrible this all is, and how no one seems to care that we are forcing toil and pain onto others. And after we've done all that, we tell them they have no right to commit get the hell out of here? Not that committing suicide makes everything about the suffering and misery imposed hunky-dory, St. Caplan.

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