Your existence is a miracle, so why are you so miserable?
The simple fact that you are here to read these words is a mind-boggling stroke of luck. The chances of your ever existing were so tiny as to be almost insignificant.
Think about it for a moment. You are the product of the combination of one particular sperm with one particular egg. You probably already know that there were two hundred million other sperm competing at that particular moment for the particular egg that produced you. And that if any of them won the race rather than you, you would never have existed.
But that is just one in a long string of lucky breaks that led to your birth. What if your parents had decided not to make love on the particular night of your conception and rather, had waited for a few weeks until after your mother’s period? What if they had never met? What if you’re mother became sick during pregnancy, causing her to miscarry? What if your grandmother had done so when she was pregnant with your mother? What if the social gathering that your great-great grandparents met at had been cancelled due to bad weather? What if your great-great-great-great grandfather had decided not to migrate to the country where he met his wife and had children?
You would never have existed.
When you look back at the history leading up to your birth, the amount of chance encounters and lucky breaks are astonishing. Each of your ancestors had to conceive at exactly the right point, at exactly the right time, using exactly the right sperm and exactly the right egg, with exactly the right partner. All this took place across the long, chaotic and bloody history of humanity; through wars, epidemics, floods, droughts, famine and pestilence, your ancestors kept meeting up and conceiving. Depending on your view of how we came to be on this planet in the first place, this went on for at least tens of thousands, and possibly millions or billions of years.
The chances of you winning the lottery one hundred times in a row are greater than those of you ever being born. And yet, here you are.
The very fact that you exist is nothing short of a miracle of good fortune. And surely to have lived and experienced is better than to have never existed at all. For that one thing, you should be eternally grateful to whichever cosmic forces made it happen. The miracle of your birth makes every other event in your life virtually insignificant by comparison.
Despite this, and even if you realise it, this knowledge is not enough to prevent you from falling into misery. In fact, rich or poor, young or old, beautiful or ugly, misery seems to follow humanity with the tenacity of our own shadows.
Why is this?
We’ve been blessed with the most astonishing miracle ever created – that of existence – and yet we can’t seem to use it to make ourselves happy. It’s as if some huge cosmic joke is being played upon us. We’ve been given the prize, but it’s not as good as we imagined it would be. And isn’t that the real problem – we can imagine things being even better than they already are?
We are unbelievably lucky to exist, but what type of existence is it? If the fossil records are to be believed, most of our existence has been lived in circumstances little better than animals. A few hundreds of thousands of years ago, modern humans were unceremoniously dumped naked in the dust of this planet. Like wild beasts, we scratched a living out of the planet, with day to day survival a struggle against hunger, disease, cold and violence.
The cavemen that we see pictures of in books were essentially the same as us. They were just unfortunate enough to be born early on in our existence when life was more difficult.
For through our own ingenuity, humanity has gradually lifted ourselves out of that dust. With nothing more than the rocks, water, animals and plants we found here on our arrival, we have used our brains to achieve astonishing feats. Starting with the discovery of agriculture some eight thousand years ago; we’ve now built cities and jet airlines, cured diseases, created great works of art, and put a man on the moon. From our humble beginnings as hunters and gatherers, we’ve achieved a mastery over reality that animals do not even have the intelligence to dream of.
And yet still we aren’t satisfied. No matter how far we come, we are still a long way from where we imagine we could be. Nothing will ever truly make us happy except a perfect existence. Even if we cannot imagine such an existence in concrete terms, we are all aware that the possibility exists. We are haunted constantly with the realisation of just how much better things could be. And deep down, we know that this state of perfect existence will be forever beyond our reach – at least – it will within the short span of our lives.
And so we have to resign ourselves to the reality in which we find ourselves. We will never be all powerful, irresistibly attractive, loved by all, and rich beyond all need or want. No matter what treasures and benefits life showers upon us, they will never provide anything more than temporary satisfaction, for the dream of a perfect existence will never be far from our minds.
Yet all is not lost. We still have the greatest gift ever provided – that of existence. We have power over a great many factors in our lives, and with it the self-awareness and free will that makes such power worth having.
While our lives will never be completely satisfying, they can still provide us with wonderful experiences. At times, we will be given a sweet taste of what the perfect existence may be like. And for that taste alone, life is worth living.
What I’d like to do, if you’ll allow me, is provide you with some insight as to how you may be able to improve your life. I’d like to share with you the lessons I’ve learned over my own existence in the hope that they may improve yours.
I humbly request that you join me on this journey, by reading on.
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|What to do when you've made a life-shatteringly bad decision |
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|Throw yourself in the deep end |
|We're all afraid of things we haven't experienced before. We'd like to take a more responsible job, but we're not sure we can deal with it. We'd like to meet new people, but we're afraid that they won't like us. We'd like to try out a new activity, but we're worried about making a fool out of ourselves.|
|If you don't know, say so |
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|The transition periods are often the most difficult |
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|Six things likely to make you happier in the long-term |
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