Via Bryan Caplan, Scott Sumner writes

I think we all listen to our friends, relatives, and colleagues complain about their predicament, and then silently think, "Well what do they expect?  Their predicament perfectly reflects their character."  If they are a lazy spendthrift, then they will go through life thinking that adverse circumstances are always denying them the money they need.  If they are envious, then their colleagues will be unfairly promoted ahead of them.  Etc, etc.

But when we think about ourselves, well then things are very different.  If only we could get out from under burden X, our life would be so much easier…  While reading the Portuguese writer Pessoa, I recently came across this quotation:

Whenever I’ve tried to free my life from a set of the circumstances that continuously oppress it, I’ve been instantly surrounded by other circumstances of the same order, as if the inscrutable web of creation were irrevocably at odds with me.

%$@#& that inscrutable web of creation.

One of the things that I always found curious is our intensely held desire to blame others for things that go wrong in our lives. Not because this represents some weakness or moral failing but because it is distinctly to our disadvantage.

Imagine that something has gone horribly wrong in your life and it is your fault. Then presumably you could fix it and then your life would be better. If instead, however, it is someone else’s fault then there is a good chance you are screwed. There may be nothing at all you can do about it.

Wouldn’t you prefer to live in a world where everything bad is your fault? Then you have the power to change the world.

Now, sometimes of course it will be someone else’s “fault.” But, this should be something we eventually resign ourselves to, something that is in its essence depressing, because it means someone else has control over your happiness.

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