Spiders, Pain and Happiness

Accountability Books Happiness


Key Point: We can learn so much from spiders. Our chief economist, Todd Hirsch, wrote a new book entitled “Spiders in Space,” (which will officially be released at the end of April). The author tells a story about NASA taking spiders into space to see how they would react to zero gravity. Of course, spinning a web is based on gravity and spiders have been doing that the same way for more than 200,000 years! So, these unsuspecting spiders now find their home on the international space station and there is NO gravity. Now THAT’S disruption. For a while, they are disoriented and have a heck of time. The webs are a mess and the spiders are struggling. Then, one day they seem to regroup and amazingly learn to spin their webs in zero gravity. As Todd tells the story, they teach themselves to web from the corners out in windshield wiper fashion. They transform and invent a new web spinning process. Todd points out under similar circumstances, we humans would have likely formed a task force, eventually insisting the astronauts take us back home. 

I am really enjoying Mark Manson‘s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k.” He points out that “happiness” is a verb more than a state of being. I agree with that. It comes essentially from the satisfaction of moving forward by solving problems. His view includes the premise that instead of asking ourselves what we want in life, we might be better off asking ourselves the question: “What pain are you willing to experience in your life?” “What are you willing to struggle for?” That will tell you more about what you really care about, and are willing to do. Happiness comes from struggling and resolving challenges or problems. Many of us desire all kinds of things, and frankly have no real commitment to do what it takes to get there. Our hopeful “what if?” eventually becomes “what else?” In the end, we really don’t want the “what if?” very much. Joy comes from the continual struggle to get to some desired future state and so do results. How much pain do you want to sustain? Really? Then do something about it NOW. 

Manson has another very practical tenet I really like. He calls it the “Do Something” principle. If you’re stuck or in a rut, do something; almost anything. That will often propel you. Start moving. If you wait for inspiration and motivation to act, inertia may very well win out. Forward action leads to inspiration, and then motivation. The spiders did not wait to be inspired or motivated. They just started spinning, one failure after another, and then one time – bingo, real progress! That’s inspirational and the motivation to keep acting. Spin!

Character Moves: 

  1. If you feel like you’re entering “zero gravity,” stop hoping to return to the past. It will not happen. Go forward and enjoy fighting through it. Why would you rob yourself of happiness? 
  1. Do something… Keep spinning… One day, voila! And you get to do it again. How fortunate we are to have these problems? Like the lesson from the Pixar movie “Inside Out,” joy and sad go together. So do problems and happiness. 

Spinning happy webs in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Ha, when people say they’re afraid of spiders, the last thing you’d think they’d be most intimidated of is their tenacity… But unfortunately for many, forcing oneself to actually “do something” is scarier than eight legs and a little venom. If you’re stuck, I bet your “spidey senses” are already tingling and you already know that you need to figure out how to spin that web again.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis