Happiness. Don’t like the term much. It’s one of the big five that are ripe for imbuing with maudlin sentimentality for nefarious purposes (love, art, war and sport, please add/swap as required).
Without prior agreement of the meaning of happiness, there’s a slew of crass messages awaiting you via the gogglebox, internets and on posters. Advertising largely functions by telling you that you’re somehow incomplete without product or service X and I don’t think I’m breaking any confidences in letting that particular cat out of the bag (or telling you something you don’t already know).
In short, you’re not happy enough and what can be done about it?
There’s a plethora of solutions, pick your poison. Happiness is now utterly medicalised, so yeah, we got pills for that.
The classics have still got plenty of life left in them; booze, holidays and retail therapy all cause happiness, right?
Although, to our credit, we seem to be wising up to the temporary nature of the joy that any of the aforementioned will bring. There’s a realisation that perhaps happiness is something that happens despite these things rather than because of them. It’s deeper than buying a jeep; it’s a state of being.
And into this yawning chasm of marketing opportunity the self improvement hawkers have jumped with gusto. Which doesn’t leave you much to claim as a happy inner space all-of-your-very-own.
It’s worse than you thought however, because there’s now actual medical science that indicates that all we need to be happy is a ‘positive’ outlook.
I don’t know about you but I find those list of three positive comments posted by friends and acquaintances on Facebook really lighten my load!
There is a darkly comic element to my feed currently; between stories of Brandis wanting to spy on his subjects and daily horrors conducted in the name of border protection, there’ll be lists of positivity so cringe worthy in their lack of introspection that it has almost seen me running from the platform for ever.
Perhaps that is the true spirit of the age; rampant fear-mongering and parochial gratitude. Rapid oscillation between these two poles should keep us out of trouble, there’ll be scant brain space left for getting stuff done. Or for thinking big ideas as to how things could actually be different or even better.
Horribly modern those big ideas and look where they got us. Two world wars and some great shots of decaying Soviet iconography.
No, much better to work on that which can be changed. Your brain. By reciting positive mantra.
In the spirit of willing participation, I offer the following:
Today I am grateful for:
1) The strange outmoded belief I have in the human ability to change, both micro and macro. That’s positivity bordering on faith.
2) The family and friends I have who accompany during the ups and endure the downs caused predominantly by point one above.
3) Death. Making this game finite really ups the ante for us all.
Perhaps this list making business is harder than I thought..