Why You Are So Sad… - Transcript


0:00 - Introduction: Unhappiness and Unsustainability
3:29 - Transition: Hope vs. Knowledge in Relationships
5:43 - Missed Opportunities and Unsustainable Relationships
10:09 - Numbing Empathy in Bad Relationships
11:05 - Building a Life Without Regrets
12:23 - Living with Choices: The Weight of Time
13:43 - Unhappiness: Dopamine, Video Games, and Debt
14:51 - Unsustainability of Society and Hope
15:46 - Experience vs. Hope: Acceptance and Adjustment
18:43 - Unhappiness and Detachment from Humanity

Long Summary

In this podcast episode, I delve into the complexities of unhappiness and the underlying reasons why people may feel this way in modern society. I explore the concept of unsustainability and how it triggers anxiety, especially in relationships, where individuals may find themselves in situations that are not viable in the long term. The discussion revolves around the conflict between hope and knowledge, highlighting the importance of accepting reality as knowledge accumulates.

I share personal anecdotes and reflections on relationships and the passage of time, emphasizing the significance of empathy and recognizing opportunity costs. The narrative shifts towards societal concerns such as economic sustainability, debt, and the implications of avoiding practical action. Drawing on personal experiences, I underscore the need to align hope with realistic expectations and make peace with past choices to build a life without regrets.

Furthermore, I address the impact of societal influences like technology and politics on individual happiness, urging listeners to confront uncomfortable truths and prioritize empathy and self-awareness. The conversation touches upon the themes of mortality, legacy, and the consequences of numbing oneself to the passage of time. Ultimately, the narrative advocates for embracing reality, letting go of unsustainable paths, and nurturing a sense of humanity to navigate life's inevitable challenges with resilience.


[0:00] Introduction: Unhappiness and Unsustainability

[0:00] Good morning, everybody. Stefan Molyneux from Freedomain. Hope you're doing well. Bit of a mournful question this morning. Somebody asked on Locals, freedomain.locals.com, why are people so unhappy and suicidal nowadays? Well, I don't know anybody who's suicidal. Certainly, I know some people who are unhappy, and there is a number of reasons for that outside of just, you know, purely sort of personal choices. One is that those cultures that evolved with a lot of winter have a deep, deep well of instincts regarding unsustainability. You had to know how much food you needed to get through the winter, and you have a deep concern and instinct for that which is unsustainable. And that which is unsustainable gives you anxiety until you work to deal with the unsustainability.

[1:02] Anxiety about unsustainability is really important. So unsustainability happens in a wide variety of areas, from the personal to the political.

[1:14] And a lot of anxiety has to do with failing to act in the face of unsustainability. And in fact it's that very unsustainability instinct that drives the environmental movement in cultures that have that level of instinct for unsustainability so if you're in a relationship.

[1:35] That isn't going to work out then you know that deep down right you know that if there's been a a bunch of breakups if you can't quite get the rhythm. I remember when my wife and I were on honeymoon. We rented a moped and we were driving around a tropical island on the moped and there was something wrong with the moped. The motor just wouldn't catch and it would just sort of fade out and then it would catch and then it would fade out. And if you're in a relationship like that where you have conflicts and then you get together and then you're okay for a bit and then you have a problem and it's just unsustainable then the anxiety and tension you have around the relationship is your hope warring with your knowledge right hope wars with knowledge now hope warring with knowledge is a very good thing at times for sure for sure everything that you achieve that you don't have empirical evidence for is hope warring with knowledge so i wanted I wanted to become a very good philosopher before I became a very good philosopher, right?

[2:47] I wanted to become a writer before I had any evidence that I was a good writer. I hoped for these things, and other things I've hoped for haven't come to pass. But hope versus knowledge, progress, ambition, shooting the sky limits, that's all hope over knowledge. And hope over knowledge is a big double-edged sword because, of course, hope over knowledge leads you to want things that won't be. So if you're in a love relationship, or it could be a friendship relationship, most often it's a love relationship, where you hope things are going to work out, you hope things are going to get better, You hope the other person's going to become more reasonable. You hope that things are going to work out.

[3:29] Transition: Hope vs. Knowledge in Relationships

[3:30] Well, the more knowledge you accumulate, the less hope you should have. The more knowledge you accumulate, the less hope you should have. There's nothing wrong with having hope over knowledge when you're young. There's nothing wrong with trying to sing. There's nothing wrong with trying to write. There's nothing. I mean, you should have hope over knowledge. Absolutely. But as the knowledge accumulates, hope needs to be transformed into acceptance. And acceptance doesn't mean a negative thing. I accept that my wife and I have a wonderful relationship and love each other enormously because we have 22 years of experience with each other.

[4:09] So hope over knowledge is great when you're young. It's great when you're starting out. But, you know, if you want to be an actor and nobody hires you, then you have the knowledge that for whatever reason it's very unlikely that you're going to make it as an actor.

[4:24] And of course, you do all hear all these stories of actors who tried for years and only hit their success later and so on. And that's sure. That happens. That happens. But it's very, very rare. And there are way more casualties than survivors in that situation.

[4:45] So if you're in a relationship that's unsustainable, then you're going to feel this anxiety. And the longer you stay in that relationship, the more you stay in that relationship, the longer you stay in that relationship, the more anxious you're going to get. Because your body, your instincts, your gut is saying, bro, this ain't going to work. Bro, this ain't going to work. It's not going to happen. You're wasting time. And how do you respond to that? Well, you respond to that with various strategies within the paradigm. Right? So you respond with, oh, we need more date nights. Or I'm going to buy her flowers. Or I'm going to stop fighting with her. or I'm going to be more assertive or, you know, whatever. I'm going to develop two outside hobbies that we can participate in with each other. Like, you're going to try all these strategies. And that's fine. You know, I don't have any particular issue with those strategies, but a lot of it is just flailing around in the absence of accumulating knowledge of impending disaster.

[5:43] Missed Opportunities and Unsustainable Relationships

[5:44] And by impending disaster, I don't mean that anything big and dramatic is going to happen, although that often is the case. What I mean by impending disaster is, the impending disaster is that the love of your life sails by while you're mucking about with an unsustainable relationship.

[5:58] That you pass that person in the street. You've all had that, haven't you? You've all had that. Where you see someone, I still remember being in my mid-teens and seeing a woman, a girl, I guess a girl, on the subway and thinking, she'd be perfect for me. Just the look, the sparkle in the eyes, the attitude, the posture, just, you see that? Now, I don't know, I don't know if that's always right. Of course, right? But when you're in a relationship, I'm sure you meet someone and your heart sings and then you trudge back to this grim baton death march of a dead-end decaying relationship. And that was the woman you were supposed to be with. She just passed you by. Or the man you were supposed to be with just passed you by. I remember. I remember once meeting up with a woman I hadn't talked to in many years, and we dated briefly in high school, and she was married to some guy, but it wasn't great, and she still talked about some guy.

[7:01] She saw pass by a cafe window. They were in the cafe, she and her husband, I think, and some guy passed by outside in some foreign country, and she still thought about how perfect that guy in the foreign country would have been for her, right? And I think that was probably a bit messed up, but nonetheless, if you are in a relationship that's unsustainable, how do you respond? Well, you respond with a variety of strategies that are akin to a fish flopping around in a boat hoping to reach the water again. It's not going to happen it's not going to happen boat's already on dry dock right, so you respond to all these strategies and the strategies are there to give the the give you the illusion of doing something while the underlying pathologies of the relationship play out to their inevitable disastrous end and i i say this with obviously no superiority or anything like that. I spent too many years in a relationship that was going nowhere.

[7:59] And the other thing that you do when you're in an unsustainable situation is you try these strategies. And one of the basic strategies is to stop recognizing the passage of time. Because once you recognize the passage of time, you were taught the most fundamental lesson of life and time, which is opportunity costs, which is kind of what I'm talking about if the love of your life floats by when you are enmeshed in the decaying orbit of a heat-death relationship. It's the opportunity costs. Now, the only way that you can waste years in a dead-end relationship, is if you numb yourself to the opportunity cost, to the passage of time, and trying to survive the constant anxiety of clamoring opportunity costs what you could be doing if you weren't in this dead-end relationship numbing yourself to the opportunity costs numbs you to the passage of time which creates the worst anxiety which is time's running out and I'm wasting time.

[9:13] It's sort of like if, I don't know, you were in some public place and someone threw some sort of sabotage device and there was a countdown of a minute and you didn't do anything. You're like, oh, I'm going to finish my wrap, my salad wrap. It would be crazy, right? Because you've got to deal with the bomb, right? The bomb is mortality and the salad wrap is wasting time. The bomb goes off whether you waste time or not. Time runs out whether you waste it or not. So you have to dissociate yourself from the passage of time.

[9:47] And in order to do that, you have to dissociate yourself from your humanity. Recognizing the passage of time is having foundational empathy for your future self. And when you're in a bad relationship, it can't be fixed. Then you numb yourself to the passage of time in order to numb yourself from the panic of anxiety costs, of opportunity costs.

[10:09] Numbing Empathy in Bad Relationships

[10:10] And that numbs you to empathy. And because being in a bad relationship requires you to numb yourself to empathy, you can't fix that relationship because those relationships can only be fixed by, substituting selfishness with empathy right replacing selfishness with empathy but because, in order to survive the bad relationship you have to shut off your empathy, processing you have to kill your empathy in order to survive a bad relationship but it's not date nights and it's not buying flowers it's actual empathy on both people's sides and And the empathy could be to get together, look each other in the eyes and say, we're not bad people, we're just bad for each other. It doesn't have to be hostility. It could be if somebody's been mean or bad or whatever, but again, you still chose that person. So if you've been programmed by your parents to choose bad people, you can get mad at your parents more than the people you chose, and certainly more than yourself, especially if you're young.

[11:05] Building a Life Without Regrets

[11:05] So the price of staying in a bad relationship is to kill your empathy, to give yourself busy work projects which are like like date nights which are going to fail, and to kill your humanity humanity is mortal and if you kill your sense of the passage of time you kill your humanity you kill your empathy because recognizing the passage of time is having empathy for your future self so you build a life without regrets building a life without regrets is really foundational. Because, you know, there will come a time in your life, and I'm, you know, I'm there, right? I mean, 50, I'm going to be 58 in like five months, four months.

[11:53] So, most of the doors in my life are closed, right? I can't go become a doctor. I can't go become a lawyer. I mean, could I theoretically do these things? I mean, I have the brain power, but I just, you know, wouldn't. and those doors in life are closed. You know, am I going to, I mean, not that I'd want to, but, you know, can I go and start a second family? No. I mean, not practically, right?

[12:23] Living with Choices: The Weight of Time

[12:24] So, the choices that I've made, I have to live with now for 30 years. You know, with any luck, I'll make it to my late 80s. I think that's probably going to be the case. No guarantees, but, you know, I think as long as I stay healthy and fit and keep my weight down, I'd still like to lose a little more. I mean, you see a lot of skinny old people. So the choices that I've made in my life, I now have to live with without alteration for the next 30 years because I can't alter them. I can't go back in time. Now, 30 years is a long time, man. 30 years ago, I was 27. I was still doing mine. I was still in grad school. I haven't started my business career. 20 years ago, well, 18, 19 years ago, I first started publishing my work. But 30 years, from 27 to 57, 37 years is a long time. And you've got a lot of energy and a lot of go-go juice in your body and a lot of just youthful vitality. And 27 to 57 is 30 years. 57 to 87 is 30 years.

[13:33] And the choices you make from your 20s to your 50s are the choices you have to live with, with very little alteration. from your 50s to your 80s.

[13:43] Unhappiness: Dopamine, Video Games, and Debt

[13:43] People are unhappy with regards to, you know, the two things that men in particular waste time on is pornography and video games. And that's to do with wanting dopamine in a decaying social and economic situation, and avoiding the need for practical action.

[14:04] So there's unhappiness there. There's unhappiness because the debt has grown to the point.

[14:11] I mean, there was some interest in the sort of pro-Trump circles in if we get a real free market guy in who eliminates regulations and liberates the productive efficiencies of the free market, then we can gain enough wealth in society to grow our way out of debt and to have a path off the welfare state. So the economy gets better and wages go up, then people will be lured off the welfare state. As people are lured off the welfare state and pay taxes rather than consume taxes, then there's some possibility, there's some path to growing the economy out of debt.

[14:51] Unsustainability of Society and Hope

[14:51] And then that was obviously detonated by various various forces and so that and you know that was a hail mary obviously but i think many people felt it was worth worth a shot and that was i think a lot of people's plan so that's not sustainable i mean the society that we're in is not sustainable And so there's concern about that. And people go through a lot of rituals to avoid that, but that's a fact. So, I think once we accept that, we are closer to reality and things are, I mean, you'll give up on hope over experience, right? Right.

[15:37] The absence of knowledge is the presence of hope, but the presence of experience is the tempering of hope.

[15:46] Experience vs. Hope: Acceptance and Adjustment

[15:47] Right. So I hope I can do X. I go and spend months or whatever, maybe years trying to do X.

[15:55] And once I accept that I can't do X, then I can do something else. Right. I mean, I spent many years writing novels, plays, poems, wanting to be a creative writer. And I'm immensely proud of the novels that I wrote and of the poems that I wrote and of the plays that I wrote although I think I'm better as a novelist than as a playwright or a poet, and I had some unbelievable reviews like as I said before I had a guy with a PhD in literature say finally the great Canadian novel has been written and this is the most amazing thing I've ever read and what a moral journey and what detailed characterizations and what amazing analogies, and this was about my novel The God of Atheists. You can get that at freedomain.com slash books and I remember sitting in my office saying, wow, you know, every phone call is going to be, oh, here's a publishing offer, oh, here's a publishing offer, this is my new life, this is my new life and it never came.

[16:50] And I had to accept, I guess the nicest way I can put it is I had to accept that my evaluation of my cowboy reputation, I had to accept that my evaluation of the value of my writing and the publisher's evaluation of the value of my writing was not the same. It was not the same. And I spent, you know, I converted some chapters of my novels into short stories and then tried sending them out to publishers. And there was like no interest and so I mean I just had to accept that that wasn't that wasn't going to happen so that's unsustainable now because that was unsustainable you know and of course the universe if I believed in God you know God's guiding and saying that's not your path there are already novelists in the world and what is needed is philosophy so I was blocked from from creative writing in order to do philosophy. And that's where my talents are most needed. And in a sense, you know, as somebody was responding the other day to my show called My Fall from Grace and saying, well, the reason people stopped following you is because of politics. And it's like, but that's not, that's not the case.

[18:09] Because my views went down substantially, even when I was still doing politics. Thank you. And after I was deplatformed, I, and I still did politics for a little while after I was deplatformed, but the views just weren't there. So I just, the loss of interest, even though I was still doing politics was considerable, even as I started to get suppressed.

[18:33] And of course, you'd say, ah, yes, but you were suppressed. And it's like, well, yes, but people could still find me, right? I was still, you know, you could find me on the web, you could get my podcast, they weren't suppressed, and so on, right?

[18:43] Unhappiness and Detachment from Humanity

[18:44] So people are unhappy because we are all being lured into a detachment from mortality, humanity, cost, benefit, opportunity, cost, and basic empathy by being in a situation that gets worse and worse, and that we have not foundationally processed as unsustainable. Now, what unsustainable means, I mean, there's a wide, I mean, I talk about some of this stuff in my novel. The present, what unsustainable means is different for every person. I, you know, I obviously suggest, you know, get some food in the basement and get some good friends in the neighborhood and get companions and have people around who you can cross help with each other. There's lots of things that you can do, but I think people are unhappy because a large amount of time is being wasted because there's hope over experience. And that costs us our essential humanity and turns us into machines of dissociation and avoidance. And that has you very unprepared when winter comes.

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