A small touch of the blues on the highway.

No reason. No illness. No new abyss in my life. Nothing to worry about more than usual.

Then I understood why: there was nothing exciting waiting for me in Paris. Neither upon arrival, nor that evening, nor in the upcoming week. Not an unpleasant week ahead – not at all – but nothing that made me impatient.

This made me realize two things.

The first one: my happiness relies almost entirely on anticipating future joys.

There has to be something shining in my future.

Either a small spark in my immediate future: a pastry, a meeting, a distraction. Or a big sun in my distant future: the success of a long-term project, a life change, the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

Strangely, the actual size of the star doesn't matter, only its apparent size. If it's small, it must be close – I want it now. If it's distant, it must be large – worth the wait. So, its diameter as seen from the present is always roughly the same: I need a certain amount of brightness on the horizon.

This perspective explains certain behaviors.

People without long-term perspective, for example, those who have lost confidence in the future (who don't have a distant sun), often compensate with a multitude of short-term sparks. It's the first step in addiction: indulging in immediate pleasures to forget the lack of an overall direction.

Conversely, it's easier to maintain daily discipline when aiming for a shining light on the horizon. The reward gleaming in the distance makes it easier to endure daily sacrifices.

But precisely: in the car, nothing was shining. And I felt... weary. Without enthusiasm. Almost depressed. That was the second realization:

What if this is my baseline state? My emotional neutrality?

What if the state I label as "depressed" is actually a "everything's fine, yay!" state that I misinterpret due to excessive dependence on the future?

Am I like an addict too fixated on their next fix to notice other sources of joy? Do I always need a reward on the horizon to enjoy the moment? Is it possible that I've organized my life (and for who knows how long?) to always have something waiting for me, even if I have to invent it? Even if it spoils what is here and now? Have the fantasies of the future desensitized my palate to the subtler emotions already within reach?

But most importantly: can I recalibrate my brain to be less hypnotized by the future and the junk it constantly dangles in front of me?

(Response: yes, yes. Very easily! Cheers!)

Midjourney - What shines in the future