So, my most excellent friend Chris has loaned me his copy of Stumbling on Happiness. It is giving me interesting things to think about including this:
According to the author, there is something called an “inescapability trigger” that brings our “psychological immune system” of denial, looking to the bright side, and generally improving our experience of negative things.
Well, this “inescapability trigger” fires when we are committed to something. This leads to the odd conclusion from psychology studies that people are happier with items they can’t give back. Essentially because I already have a 1992 Jeep Cherokee, I see it as a fixed part of my life, and as it falls to pieces, I work to improve my opinion of it rather than change it. In essence, we tend to be much more critical of the things we are renting, borrowing, considering buying, than the things we actually already own.
This makes me think about the perils of temporary relationships. Now, most work relationships are temporary–people change jobs, move cities, etc. But some work relationships are more explicitly temporary than others. Take subcontracting at my old place of work. There were no fixed contracts, instead we had agreements for a small # of hours on a particular project that could be cancelled at any time. And, because of their struggles with their own pipeline, I was often on the bench there (= not working, not paid). Every time I was “on the bench” I would go through the same feelings of rejection, boredom, frustration, feeling left out, and general misery.
Each time I struggled there, I bumped into considering leaving. Many times the answer was “stay”. But, all it took was an increasing frequency of “leave” (or “LEAVE!”) and, tah dah, escape velocity increased enough to pull me out of the loose association we had. Weak links.
I am struggling with unrealistic schedules and building relationships at my new place, and I wonder if I had signed up as a subcontractor instead of an employee if I’d still be around. But, the employee thing does change the mix. Each time I think, “hmmm, maybe signing up here wasn’t a great idea” I think, “well, I have to make this work.” That’s a different answer than I had at the last place, which was “wow, I’m really tired of forcing this”.
Seems to me that a bit more inescapability goes a long way.