This weekend is a bachelor weekend for me. Wendy and Elli are off at the cottage and I get to revisit the days of being single and not a father. Some things from that era I can't go back to like sleeping all day and staying up all night, some things I don't want to go back to like studying for finals but some things are wonderful. On Saturday I got up at 9:30, made breakfast, sat down to play a little Starcraft 2 and then noticed that it was 5:00 PM and I had forgotten to eat lunch. I also had not put on clothes of any sort, which I had to remedy because some friends were coming over fairly shortly. There are probably people who don't think that sleeping in, playing video games all day, staying naked until nightfall and eating pickles and toast for a meal makes a for decadent weekend but those people are crazy.
It makes me wonder about how being able to live that way affects my happiness, and how that could generalize to the whole of humanity. Back in university I did live a much more spontaneous life, ignoring the clock, good eating habits and generally being quite a mess but I don't think I was happier then than I am now despite how good it feels to be able to do those things these days. I had a sleeping schedule back in the day that included 3 8 hour sleeps and 2 16 hour sleeps a week on a fixed rotation that pretty much ignored day and night but the freedom to do so just wasn't very impactful given that I had it all the time. The old saying "A change is as good as a rest" is probably very appropriate here.
I certainly enjoy treats more when I do not get them all the time and yet I can't deliberately deny myself good things to increase their potency later just for the sake of denying them - that makes me unhappy instead. People are all like this; when they go to a tropical paradise on vacation they are exceedingly happy but when they move there they end up cursing the heat and the rainy season and whatever else and don't end up any happier overall. People who get a lot of money don't become really happy with things they can easily afford because their 'this is special' price range simply goes up and they continue chasing whatever it is that is almost out of reach. It is well established that people are largely controlled by some internal happiness level. There are many external factors that have large temporary effects but as long as very basic needs and freedoms are met people tend to be about as happy as is their custom over the long term.
I have this idea that somehow I could construct a life where I have just the basic amount of normalcy required to set a standard of living in my mind and then maximize the happiness I gain from adding in various luxuries in the proper mix. This surely isn't feasible though because that act of control would remove more happiness than it would add. What I need is a happiness manager; someone who makes subtle hints and rearranges the world to maximize the enjoyment I gain from simple things and makes sure the world works. They could arrange for old friends to stop by, set up days where I can play video games naked for 12 hours and forget to eat and occasionally leave Smarties lying around the place where I would find them. Anyone want to volunteer?