So we decided

In this excerpt from Amy Tan’s short story The Joy Luck Club ©1989, the narrator’s mother explains why she founded a mah jong dinner club while a refugee in war-torn China:

“It’s not that we had no heart or eyes for pain. We were all afraid. We all had our miseries. But to despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable. How much can you wish for a favorite warm coat that hangs in the closet of a house that burned down with your mother and father inside of it? How long can you see in your mind arms and legs hanging from telephone wires and starving dogs running down the streets with half-chewed hands dangling from their jaws? What was worse, we asked among ourselves, to sit and wait for our own deaths with proper somber faces? Or to choose our own happiness?

“So we decided to hold parties and pretend each week had become the new year. Each week we could forget past wrongs done to us. We weren’t allowed to think a bad thought. We feasted, we laughed, we played games, lost and won, we told the best stories. And each week, we could hope to be lucky. That hope was our only joy. And that’s how we came to call our little parties Joy Luck.”

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The Hedonic Treadmill

From Wikipedia:  The hedonic treadmill, also known as hedonic adaptation, is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

“We stoked each other’s anger. And it felt good.”

Via Humans of New York:

“I felt humiliated and suicidal in college. It seemed like my personal failings were on display for everyone to see. I’m not all that attractive. I have a speech impediment. I’m not good socially. I saw other guys having romantic success and I felt a lot of envy. I concluded that women owed me something. They owed me a chance. And I was angry they weren’t giving it to me. I’m ashamed of it now, but during that time I formed a lot of bad and hateful opinions. I joined ‘incel’ communities on 4chan and Reddit. I found a lot of men there who felt just like me. The community provided this pseudoscientific justification for hating women. It let us feel like it wasn’t our fault. We stoked each other’s anger. And it felt good. Honestly, anger is just very addictive. You want to feel angry when you’re suffering. It gives you adrenaline. It gets your endorphins going. It’s a release. It’s a substitute for what you’re missing.”

He’s not really so unusual.

Outrage is America’s drug of choice- and there’s a dealer on every news channel.

“You are wasting your time.”

In this excerpt from Myra Scovel’s autobiography, The Chinese Ginger Jars ©1962, Brother Li has come to visit her husband as he recuperates from a gunshot wound inflicted by a drunken Japanese soldier during the war years:

Fred was amused, but he was looking very tired.

“One would think that you never had a serious moment,” I said, laughing. “Let’s go downstairs and have a cup of coffee. It’s time for Fred to have a nap.”

“Brother Li, you’ve made me feel like a new man,” said Fred. “Happiness is good medicine.”

“Happiness is my mission in life,” Brother Li replied as he rose to go.

“Happiness is my mission in life.” I thought of the words as he pedaled out of the front gate and I remembered the day Brother Li showed me the pair of shoes he was making for an old priest who was having trouble with his feet. He had explained his contrivings to make the shoes comfortable.

“You are wasting your time making shoes,” I said to him. “You would make a wonderful priest. Why didn’t you go on and study to become one?”

He had looked at me as if I were a child. “You do not understand,” he said. “I make shoes for God.”