Our dishwasher started spilling water on the floor yesterday. My phone malfunctioned a few days ago - it now makes a hissing noise whenever the speaker is enabled, even if the volume is off. My car battery died a few weeks ago, and I haven't jumped it yet to go get a new one.
I noticed a bit of a shift in my relationship with reality, as I was unscrewing the bottom of the dishwasher at 11pm last night. What I noticed was an absence of feeling upset. The dishwasher was broken, and... And that was it. It just was. I was spending time on it instead of doing something else, and that also was just a matter of fact, which I didn't really care to spend time or energy feeling put out about.
"Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want." I think I heard that on Twitter, and it floated back to me here. If I want my dishwasher not to have broken... Well, I'm pretty obviously not going to get that, am I? So, what's the point in feeling put out - is it for my benefit, or anyone else's benefit?
It's one thing to have a preference on how the future world plays out, but to treat the past like a human business partner and display a social scene of displeasure is pretty evidently pointless. It's not as if reality will say "Oops, I made him mad, I'd better not break his fridge next." Yet, if something "bad" happens to me, I used to get (more) upset.
There might be a "contract with others" when dealing with humans, in negotiations, with future relations on the line. If you mistreat me and I display my anger, that might work out to my benefit if you resolve to not mistreat me again. But we're not usually just "displaying" emotions - we're feeling them, experiencing them, living them. The whole feeling thing is a "contract with yourself" that just happens to be implementing some effects-on-others, when there are others.
I have found quite a lot of delight and joy in disconnecting "event happened" from "I have a feeling about it" from "I will behave in response" - defusion in the psychotheraputical vocabulary. When I did some CBT/ACT therapy a few years ago (wonderful, everyone should do it), I focused on the latter feeling-to-behavior section more, I think. But now, the former event-to-feeling space is alive and shifting for me. It's not quite conscious - but conscious thought is somehow able to do a bit of rewiring of the circuitry between perception and judgement, which I didn't know was possible until recently. Progress.