We’re often troubled by the notion that we could be doing a lot better. There’s this nagging sensation that had we just studied harder, or made a better impression, we’d have a life that would make both ourselves and our loved ones proud; instead, we’re still living with our parents, making very little money, romantically destitute, etc.
Are these woes really the sources of our sadness? It sucks to be poor and alone, for sure — I don’t deny that. But what if you abandoned the concept that you could do anything to improve your circumstances in the first place? No more self help books, no more Joel Olsteen, no more free will. Your life just is what it is; you can improve your situation like you can pick yourself up by your own collar.
“But plenty of people change their lives; rise from rags to riches.” Yes. That’s because they desire to. Your improvement hinges on desire. But you can’t create desire — it just has to be there. If you resolve to lose weight but you don’t desire to work out, you’ll go to the gym two, maybe three times and then quit. Desire is achievement’s gasoline; without it, even a Ferrari is rendered useless.
You might say that desire is inspired by finding the right environment or maintaining the right frame of mind. But your ability to find the right environment or maintain the right frame of mind is also a byproduct of desire. Any method of self improvement you can devise is at the mercy of your desire to follow through; and unfortunately, you cannot will desire into existence.
For some, this realization will be profoundly depressing. But why should it be? Your sense of autonomy was just stressing the shit you out and burdening your mind with failure. Once you’ve truly surrendered your illusion of agency, something strange will happen: you’ll no longer feel responsible for any of your shortcomings (You must still be held accountable for them, but that’s something I’ll get into later). Arrogant people will also benefit from this perspective because it revokes their snowflake status. They’re just biologically lucky. An arrogant person would counter that their success comes from how they use their biological luck. But how one uses one’s biological luck is again determined by biology.
But if one has no autonomy then one can steal, kill, or rape as one wills and chalk it up to determinism! Yeah, you go ahead and try that. Parting with free will won’t create more rapists or murderers. They’re genetic deviants; determinism won’t be what drives them to crime. Sometimes, the aforementioned takes a legislative form: If it’s all luck and no free will, then how can a pedophile be punished for molesting children? He can’t help it; he’s just unlucky. The answer is simple if we define justice as prescriptive rather than vengeful. Those with criminal biologies should be quarantined for the safety of others.
Abandoning our free will — for which there is no scientific evidence — only disencumbers us. That dude who just cut you off in traffic? Eh, asshole genes. Hitler? Poor fucker was a victim of circumstance. We’re all victims of biology. It’s either a comedy or a tragedy. You choose.