This is what it is: that it’s not the function graph (the x-y graph) that matters. It’s the derivative graph that matters, the graph of the rate of change.
Because people don’t notice states. We’re like animals in that regard, noticing only the movement on the outskirts of our field of vision. We notice differences, especially change. Beyond a certain point, we can’t feel whether we are wealthy; we can only feel whether we are more wealthy than other people or more wealthy than we used to be. When something amazing like winning the lottery or something terrible like becoming a paraplegic happens, our levels of happiness change for awhile and then revert back to where we used to be.
Performance goals, as described in Daniel Pink’s Drive, don’t satisfy us in a sustainable way, while learning goals continue to offer satisfaction. It’s crazy to chase after performance goals. It’s the experience of living, all the phenomena that we experience in our own subjectively objective ways – our time – this is all there is, at least in this life (I can’t speak for what lies beyond…I have to think that no one can do so credibly). Maybe a goal should be about the doing, and not the checkmark.
When I was 19 and adults (ha) would ask me what I wanted to be, I’d always respond, “I want to be better.” “Better at what?” But that’s not the point.