If I know water would boil at a 100 degrees Celsius under earth’s gravity. Do I need to hope it would boil at 100 degree Celsius? Or even if I do not want the water to be boiled, could I desire the water not to be boiled even if I heat it up to 100 degrees Celsius? I can hope, dance, or pray—or do all three at once—for it to rain tomorrow. However, if the causes are not right, it will not rain. Or maybe I do not want it to rain tomorrow. But again, if the conditions are right for it to rain, it will rain regardless of what I want or do not want.
The simple yet elegant wisdom that I am attempting to reiterate here is this:
Reality has nothing to do with what one wants. Instead, reality has everything to do with the law of cause and effect.
If the causes are right for an effect to occur, it will occur regardless of what one wants or do not want. Scientifically speaking, there is no room for desires in reality. There is only cause and effect.
The common way, we, humans, achieve happiness in life is to put what we desire in front of the causes we must perform to achieve the result. We start a project by wanting it to be finished. We run a business by hoping to gain and never to lose. We often live by being afraid of dying even though we are perfectly fine. We lived life without Even when we are deeply in love with someone, we can’t help ourselves feeling a little insecure about how long the good time will last. Humans always put our desire in front of what the reality is. For this reason, our pursuit of happiness has led us to constantly become fearful, worried, impatient, and frustrated by what we demand from reality.
But is this really necessary? or is there a better way of pursuing happiness?
Two Approaches Toward True Happiness: One Is Scientific And Other Is Not.
There are two opposing ways of achieving anything in life.
1. Desire-Oriented Approach to Happiness
This is humans’ most typical approach toward happiness. By putting our desire in front of what the reality is, our happiness is externalized and is dependent what we hope from the reality than what the reality is. And thus, he or she can never be happy until his desire is fulfilled. In other words, we have given up our rights to our own happiness.
2. Reality-Oriented Approach to Happiness
The second way is to work toward your goal without the need to get ahead of ourselves. To work with and according to what the reality is, not work from the stance of what we expect reality to be.
The man whose desire is with reality lived with what is. Since his desire is in tune with reality, he is not anxious or worried. This, in turn, allows him to become more composed, relaxed, and ultimately more productive while working toward his goal with a peace of mind.
Epictetus beautifully capture this idea as follows:
Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.
Our Duty To Reality
Right now, I am applying for graduate school. Right away, my desire is to be accepted. But who am I to want or not want things from reality without ever creating the right causes for it to happen? In reality, whether or not anyone would or would not be accepted has many different factors—many beyond one’s control. So just by applying or having a great supporting resume doesn’t mean I have the right to demand or hope from reality my admission. So why hope? Why put my desire ahead of the reality? Why worry? Why set myself up to be dissappointed for something which I have no control over? And why not channel this energy, instead, in what I can control by creating the right causes such as writing the best application?
You can attain anything in life with or without the need to desire for it. But since reality runs by the absolute law of cause and effect, it does not obey one’s desire no matter how large or small the desire. The only thing that matters is whether or not there are enough causes for the effect to occur. Thus, there is no need to desire because…
- One simply can't. There is no room for desire in reality.
- It is not based on reality but hope. Every effect must has it rightful causes.
- If putting our demands of the reality before the reality is the root the unhappiness of life, why unnecessarily suffer?
One does not need to desire to achieve whatever he or she set out to accomplish. Our duty to life is not to chase after our desire, but to create the right causes to produce the right effect. Depending on how well one could live in accordance with this natural law and not according to what he or she demands of reality, the happier he or she becomes.
All in all, the message here is simple: life is happier, better, and more satisfactory if one lives in accordance with reality and its law rather than living in accordance with what one wants from reality.
Reality does not revolve around what one wants from it; it revolves around the absolute law of cause and effect. Life is never like what one wants it to be. The only way for anyone to feel the unsatisfactoriness of life is to be unmindful of the law of conditionality and desire life or reality to be the way one wants.
'What's worse, the falling rain, or your resistance to getting wet?' - Jeff Foster
So let’s keep our feet on the ground; and stay with reality and its law. Forget about all your fantasies about how reality should be. Instead, focus on, be satisfied, and work starting from what is. Begin living in the now! Keep on working with reality by making the right causes to achieve the right effect. And always remember that the way to live happily, correctly, and more efficiently, is not to put our desires in front of our reality, but the other way around.
- ← Cause of Unhappiness Part Two: Comparing Yourself to Others
- Cause of Unhappiness Part Three: Fear of Being Meaningless →