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Letter #1: Why do we always want things to be different?


For the past nine days, I have been reading one Boron Letter a day (letters from a jailed marketer to his son). I really like the build-up of his thoughts into a coherent picture of who he was. So I am going to try to write a letter to some person or myself to clear out my head and put in writing the plentitude insights I have.

So I asked myself, who would I write to? Like, who is the most precious person in my life right now? It feels bad but that person is me. We have been through everything together and it’s the person I know the best and she knows me the best. I just feel like I am not as close to any other person as I am to myself. I’m wondering if saying “the person I care the most about is me” is selfish...

Well, since I feel this way, I will stick with it. Maybe addressing these letters to myself will develop an appreciation for myself and help me recognize all of those times when I helped myself and I dragged myself out of really complicated situations. Even better, I will address these letters to my child self. Like Boron writes to his son, I will be writing to my child self, in part my future kids. Because I never want them or anyone to have to go through the struggles that I had. I want it to be figured out and systemized in a way that makes it easily avoidable. So here we go, Letter #1.


Dear Mariyam,

The question that I ask myself today is:

Why do we want things to be any different than what they already are?

From the standpoint of happiness, it is extremely harmful to be always thinking about how things could be because it distracts you from how they are. This trait introduces a vicious cycle of endless desires. As Naval says, a desire is a contract you make to be unhappy. A desire to be, to do, to change is always making you less happy because this way it creates motivation to change things. So although I really appreciate this quality, because it brings progress, sometimes I can’t help wishing that I only took things the way they are.

Not thinking about how I could be feeling right now, who I could be dating, what environment I could be in, how I could look, etc. Every single thought like that makes me distraught at the face of how I really feel right now, who I am not dating, the environment that I am really in, and the way I really look. This stuff makes me unhappy.

So why is there a tendency to think about those things, in some people perhaps more than others? Well, probably because it does bring progress to the individuals and humanity overall. If we were content always at all times with how things are, we would have never ventured into making our lives better. Any invention, a project, an idea is its creator saying: ”I don’t like how things are right now, I want to change them”. Initially, the only driver for this action is the vision of how things could be. In this light, this quality is extremely beneficial.

So as a greedy mega-achiever, I want to have it all. I want to be driven by this grand vision of the impact I want to have in the world but be fully present and happy in my day-to-day life. So I want to both completely not take things as they are because they can be improved and also take them as they are because it's healthier and happier for me personally.

Recognizing the two sides of any quality is probably what can really help you leverage its positives and work around the negatives. This great function of the brain, to even have the capacity to imagine and visualize, comes at a price. You can probably learn to balance it out, to kind of switch it off in certain settings, but you will probably never be able to completely turn it off because then you would lose one of the greatest traits. As Betty told me yesterday “What we love the most about others, is also what is making us the most annoyed”.

So Mariyam, please, internalize this and develop some grace for the times when you are not yet perfect in turning the imaginative visualization mode on and off depending on what you want. Appreciate the gift this trait is giving you and attend to the downsides that come with it.


Your Future Self

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