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I'm constantly amazed at the human mind's inability to measure happiness on an absolute scale, and societies inability to acknowledge that this is normal.

I know that I'm well off. I know I'm incredibly lucky to be working on exactly what I want. I know what I'm working on matters and will have a huge impact on the world eventually. And yet, the uncertainty of success (or at least its timing), and the inexplicable daily feeling of unworthiness/ineptitude combine to put stupid mental roadblocks in my path.

While unsurprising, it saddens me that an investor would pull away from a founder because they found out he was human. Silicon valley's greatest strength is accepting and embracing failure, I hope that strength will begin to extend to embracing the humanity of founders. If you expect founders to be perfect models of confidence, skill, willpower and brilliance, you will be lied to and eventually disappointed. It strikes me as part of our culture's maturation process that we begin breaking down these myths and replacing them with understanding, compassion, and realistic expectations.

I too think quite a bit about our ability to readjust expectations and inability to measure happiness on an absolute scale. I've come to the conclusion that it just might be our greatest strength.

Without it, we'd still be living in huts and hunting prey, because on an absolute basis that is way better than sleeping under a tree in the cold.

It's the thing that lets a child enjoy watching a lion at the zoo, behind glass, angrily advancing and pawing at them.

It's the thing that makes a billionaire keep working hard at the next big thing, despite them having enough money to not care.

Our inability to be perfectly happy and content with our situation, in an oddly confusing way, is what makes us so great, what makes us continue to strive to make things better, and get out of bed every morning to continue advancing humanity.

You're right but it's not as benign as you suggest. Our genes are stupid.

They don't care if you are happy or not, as long as you are potentially reproductively successful. They are so stupid they can't even tell the difference between drug-based euphoria, or other addictions, and genuine success. And our genes don't even care if the entire ecosystem collapses underneath us, because the whole species is acting the same way.

Sometimes this restlessness does "advance humanity", but that's not inherent in what our genes want. It's only because we have carefully set up institutions and practices such that the best way to compete is to serve other people.

But, barring the discovery of some infinite source of non-polluting energy and materials, at some point - either tomorrow or in a thousand years - this restlessness will have to be tamed. In short, there are limits.

And for individuals, those limits are much nearer, and the benefits of controlling your desires are as well.

I'm constantly amazed at the human mind's inability to measure happiness on an absolute scale

Under its other name, the ability to adapt to misfortune, this inability has been a very useful thing for humans to have.

This is such a good statement. Thanks for the contribution.

It’s funny how what you do (engineering in my case) affects the way you think about some things. I started to think of happiness not as a direct function of the different “happiness variables” (like wealth, relationships…) but as the derivative of those variables. For me it makes a lot more sense that how you feel is related to your perceived progress towards or away from happiness rather than your actual status on some arbitrary scale. It explains why rich people can get depressed and why people who have suffered extreme losses can be very happy a while after the loss.

I agree with you about human happiness. I'm well aware that being born in America puts me among the global top 10% by wealth.

If I could play the devil's advocate for this story--we've only seen the founder's side. In this blog post, I see no description of what the pitch to the VC was like. It's possible that these doubts and struggles were not discussed between the founder and investor. If this is the case, the investor has a reasonable stance for re-evaluating the verbal commitment. Why expect full disclosure later when you're not getting it now?

Happiness is not directly related to money, just like how a king of long ago can't be on the other side of the world in a day, money gives you diminishing returns.

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