Friday, April 10, 2009

There Are So Many Theres There.

Dear Jason Adair the Unlicensed Therapist,
I have this nagging feeling that I’m missing out on something, that there’s a million incredible parties that I’m not invited to, and that everyone is having more fun than me. In the past, I used to let this feeling spur me to do foolish things, mainly drinking until looked like spinning Christmas lights until the darkness took me. Now I have a life and responsibilities, so I channel this feeling into work, the gym, whatever. But I still have this nagging feeling that I’m missing out on all the fun, and frankly, it’s depressing. Will it ever go away? Where does it come from?

Anhedoniac in San Francisco.

Dear Anhedoniac,
I know exactly what you mean. And I don't mean that I understand, or that I can empathize with you, I know EXACTLY what you mean. This affliction, which we'll call the Glass Half Full Disorder has been plaguing me my entire life. The root of the problem, in my unlicensed opinion, is that there always seems to be this annoying gap between expectations and reality. Things are rarely as fun or satisfying in real life as they are in theory. This is because our brains make a habit of rooting for the best case scenario, even when there's no way in hell that's going to happen. For example, when you start with, "I am going to this bar in LA where movie stars have a habit of showing up" it can quickly become "I bet Penelope Cruz will be there" and ultimately "Penny and I are totally going to have rough sex in the bathroom." This problem seems to be rooted in the same psychology that the researchers at the Oregon Research Institute were working on this year regarding overeating. The gist of it was that people who overeat do so because their brains anticipate getting more pleasure from drinking a milkshake than they actually do when they drink it. Thus they have to drink more to chase the high they expected. It seems like the same thing is working against people like us. The researchers said that in order to curb the overeating habit, one should eat with people who eat normal amounts of food so that good eating habits might rub off through social osmosis. In that vein, my prescription for you is to hang out with people who feel satisfied in hopes that that satisfaction might rub off as well. And keep focusing that dissatisfaction into positive outlets because that's how great things get done. Imagine how dull this world would be if Napoleon had been satisfied with France, or Amelia Earhart had been satisfied with just flying around the Eastern seaboard, or Caligula been satisfied with monogamy.
Keep chasing that rainbow,

Jason Adair The Unlicensed Therapist