On my morning walk today, I listened to a podcast of NPR's Science Friday. The guests were Daniel Nettle and Gregory Berns, two experts in happiness and satisfaction. I found it very interesting, because I was in a bit of a funk recently, and I still have lingering feelings of dissatisfaction.
There were a couple key things I got from the program.
One is that our brains appear to be geared toward a constant quest for new experiences. As Dr. Berns, humans seem to be engineered to learn more and more about the world.
The other was balance. As Dr. Nettle observed, this striving for the new, especially with regards to material posessions can begin to resemble addiction, and this can have an opposite effect. He talked about the differing approaches to happiness in Eastern and Western cultures, with the West in constant search of conquest and the East angling always toward detachment.
II found the whole conversation to be helpful and comforting.
For one, it made me feel good about my career choice. As a jjournalist, it's my job to go out and try experience and understand things outside my day-to-day range of experiences. On the other hand, the conversation offered an exciting challenge, though not entirely new, to try to detach myself some from my desires and find contentment in what I already have.