It is the tendency of the human mind to take more comfort in an orderly world that makes sense. This being the case, I think it makes intuitive sense that a person can take comfort in the concept of a typical life, even if one’s own life is comparatively atypical.
When a person visualizes the concept of the ideal of the typical life, they can attain an introspective understanding of their own variance from that ideal. Though a variance from the ideal may be recognized in one’s own life, a comfort in a more sensible world may be attained with the intellectual acceptance of the concept of a typical life.
A person with an atypicality, such as a mental disorder, or a history of criminal behavior, or even victimhood of circumstances, can have the comprehension that there is a typical human experience. In having this understanding, the atypical person can find a comfort in knowing that a typical human experience exists within the realm of possibility, and with this understanding, a certain sanity can be achieved in accepting the existence of the ideal.
The reason for this is because the human brain continually strives to make sense of the world. The more consistent the world appears, with less apparently-conflicting information, the more comfortable that the brain seems to be, even as the person lives in a state of continual pyrasmos, transitioning from one form of struggle to another on a near-continual basis.
Where there is perceived inconsistency, there is more potential for cognitive dissonance, and a person feels less comfortable with the reality that they perceive as there is a higher possibility of simultaneously holding conflicting viewpoints.
However, when a person perceives a more consistent world, the world itself seems more sensible to them, and they can continue with a clarity of mind that enables them to maintain sanity even in a more difficult life.
For this reason, the intellectual acceptance of the idea of a typical life can help a person to maintain their sanity, even as the person understands that their own life deviates from the typical model.
Based on the general culture of western life in the 21st century, it seems like the model of the typical life would resemble as follows:
- Being born to a married mother and father,
- Starting to attend school at around the age of five or six,
- Moving to a new home perhaps only once or twice prior to adulthood,
- Obtaining a driver’s license at the age of 16,
- Experiencing one’s first kiss during high school years,
- Graduating from high school at age 18, not having been held back,
- Being accepted to a college, and attaining a degree by about age 22 or 23,
- Being gainfully employed shortly after graduation,
- Buying one’s own house while in one’s twenties,
- Being married before one’s thirties, perhaps to the person that they first kissed,
- Having a number of children that’s around the population replacement rate,
- Saving a consistent amount of money for one’s retirement,
- Eventually moving to a smaller home as the children move out,
- Perhaps at some point taking a vacation to Europe.
As one reads through this list, they might notice some variation between this model and one’s own life. They might even find no similarities at all. Yet, an understanding and acceptance of the existence of this norm can lend one the comfort of a sensible world, even if one doesn’t live up to it. In fact, it’s possible that surprisingly few actually do live up to that model of a typical life, as presented above. Even so, it’s the acceptance of the concept of a normal life that enables the mind to perceive a stable world.
The human mind’s preference for a stable world is one of the reasons the case can be made that the human mind is well-adapted to the acceptance of cultural norms and religious ideas.
Perhaps also the case can be made that too much exposure to novel ideas challenging one’s worldview might have the potential for affecting one’s mental health. If true, this might challenge the conventional thinking that continually cramming one’s head with new worldviews, ideas, and concepts would be the ideal way to develop. It might even be possible that continual learning from the internet might be stressing people in ways they aren’t aware of, as humanity as a whole didn’t in previous ages have the kind of access to information that they do today!
Your life might not be typical. But on the bright side, it’s typical for someone. And there’s comfort to be had in the fact that the world does make some amount of sense.