I am a cheerful person most of the time and I have been trying for decades to add a little cheer to those whom I encounter. I remember the exact moment and place where that happened. Not the date, but the thoughts and feelings of being depressed about things in general as I approached the Med, my coffee rendezvous for decades. I wasn’t going to visit my gloom upon my friends and decided to be cheerful. I was able to maintain that false cheer for a few minutes, until the conversation became interesting, which it always did, and I forgot to be cheerful and returned to my anxious gloom. Each on the next several days I remade the promise to myself to be cheerful toward my friends and every day the same result. I forgot myself and returned to my gloomy state and proceeded to pull the happy discussions down a notch.
The next experiment was not trying to be cheerful but to watch my friends behavior and try and help them to become cheerful. That worked a lot better because it is easier to watch another person’s expressions than to watch one’s self. I cultivated some habits around that simple strategy for not being gloomy and by helping my interlocutors to be happier I became happier too. I have long given up doing these experiments intentionally, but the habits are still with me, and often when a group as I was today, I notice that people are laughing along with me as I develop my arguments on whatever it is that we are all chewing on.
With that nonsense exposed it is time to face a simple and obvious fact of current reality. The population of the world is still exploding and the resources of the world are about to become too difficult to retrieve. Malthus said that two hundred years ago and was wrong because he didn’t factor in the energy reserves provided by coal and oil and a few smaller energy sources, and the creativity of humanity to develop ways to exploit our planetary resources. Paul Ehrlich brought this to the modern world in his 1968 book The Population Bomb, but once again the creativity of the unified human species was able to delay the onset of population collapse. The bad luck that those two predicted is about to run out because of the infinite capacity of living organisms to reproduce, it doesn’t even have to be a logarithmic growth a simple tiny growth will do if it is infinite it will consume all of the resources available to its species. We are still in a fortunate condition for enjoying the good life the Earth is still providing to us. But, even us geriatrics may witness the tipping point, and young adults will have an increasingly difficult time, and it brings tears to my eyes sometimes when I see happy children and realize that they are unlikely to live to my age without experiencing a wrenching suffering of humanity.
But, I’ve run out of time again and once again my advice is to enjoy yourself.