Should we optimize for enjoyment?

I wrote about enjoyment in my last essay, you can consider this a continuation. Something I've always believed is that I'm not on earth to optimize for happiness or “enjoyment”. This might sound stoic, but not necessarily that. I don't think my primary purpose here is to optimize for my happiness or to just enjoy the “fine” things of life (All those are important, but I don’t see them as primary). It’ll be quite selfish to view life that way.

Just being able to relax and enjoy my life or even think about enjoying it right now is a result of others' hard work. A lot of people did the hard work for us to be here, the scientists, engineers, artists, designers e.t.c. The people who sat down to think, the people who used years of their life, day and night to push the boundaries of knowledge. All of us benefit from their sacrifices and the work they did. I personally think that it would be unmindful of me to just relax and not help in the continuation of this cause to help humanity. We need to keep advancing and making progress.

Everything we see now is a result of constant iteration. Creations in science, technology, and art have always relied on an iterative process to make them better. The very fact that I can click a button or tap my screen and get a desirable response is because people have worked on these things for years. It took years of iteration for perfection, and it’s still evolving. This was years of human effort. I believe I’m here to continue this work, both for the people alive now and for the ones that’ll come after me.

Every moment I spend sitting down, trying to think about solutions to a problem, educating myself, making stuff that other people might use, or just randomly hacking stuff to see if there are any flaws I can improve on, I’m committing myself to make a tiny change in human history. It’s the tiny efforts from all of us that push the advancement of human progress.

We should strive to contribute to society, no matter how small. To not do this is to hate ourselves and all of human existence. It's possible to think about all the little things that people did independently, which became part of a bigger system. Take the smartphone, for example, it has different components (LCD screens, digital typefaces, operating system, Li-Ion batteries, touch calibrators, speakers, microphones e.t.c.) all of which were invented by different people who might have never imagined the idea of a smartphone, but all these tiny contributions came together to form a system that we all use and enjoy today.

I used the smartphone as an instance, but it could be anything. Different tiny contributions from a lot of people have shaped the world we know today. If people didn’t commit to working on and improving things like electricity or fridges, we would not be enjoying ice cream. Our ability to take vacations to fancy places on earth is the result of time spent designing airplanes and cars. Every single contribution (no matter how tiny) from humans all over the world counts. Thus, I don't support people who simply want to "enjoy life" without contributing to society.

What keeps me grounded in my belief is that I'm doing it for myself and for people who might benefit from what I'm doing. This is why I like makers, artists, scientists, and engineers because they’re not selfish people. People who create/make things or contribute to human knowledge in any way are the ones who deeply care. They spend their time and expend energy trying to make something that other people could benefit from. Even though the second-order effect is that they might become financially stable, which in turn gives them a good life, they were most definitely not primarily optimizing for happiness. Life rewards those who deeply care and create.

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