Happiness Limits

Since the humidity and heat decided to die down for a day, it has been feeling downright cool outside — 70° with a pleasant breeze. Things smell different — there’s a crispness that isn’t fall but isn’t the oppressive July heat, either.

Halfway through yet another rotation (pediatric dentistry), I’m beginning to realize that there is a point in my life when I’ll be done with dental school. At that point, I’ll have a world of options in front of me. Like a river delta opening into the ocean, my life will have 1000 directions where there once was one. Invigorating, right? Well, I suppose. More on that in a minute. Here’s something I wrote almost four years ago, on the private changelog for my software that powers tumbledry:

23 Jan 2008
Dental school begins in 7 months. If tumbledry is to survive four years of dental school and beyond, I must now take steps to make it ultra robust and easily maintainable.

I remember thinking at that time how long four years seemed. I mean, I was going to be hard at it for four years! (Not entirely true: I did a redesign this spring I’d never have thought possible in 2008). Despite that, I’m happy I took the steps I did, because I’m realizing that the “ultra robust” (ha!) code I worked on needs to work for MUCH longer than dental school. It’s all just beginning.

Now, about those 1000 choices. Happiness studies have produced interesting results: show a person 3 paintings and tell them they get 1 for free, no exchanges or substitutions. Now, show another person those same 3 paintings and tell them they get 1 for free and that they can exchange it for another in a week, and they’ll never be as happy as the first person. Living with limitations on our choices helps us find happiness. You lose the burden of imagining greener grass on the other side when you know you can’t go to the other side. Case in point: I LOVE where we live. The lack of air conditioning, old bathroom, ancient windows… I don’t mind them. I know, with only 1 car and me biking to school, we can’t move. Until school is over.

Then what? Suddenly, we can live wherever we want. How can you be happy in a job when you’re always imagining how you could change jobs? Same with a house. It’s a little scary. You have to put your own limitations on your choices, I guess. Bit of a challenge.

Brief Notes Nearby