Monday, June 25, 2007

How happy are we supposed to be?

Saturday's edition of the Toronto paper The Globe and Mail carried an article on the search for happiness, which many self-help gurus have latched on to and made millions from. It brings up the question of how happy we're really meant to be. It details the many studies done on depression and happiness and looks at the self-help movement and how the industry may be hurting us more than helping us.

As a former self-help junkie, I can attest to the effects of the happiness cult. As I've stated in this blog previously, it all seems to feel like mental masturbation after awhile. There is an underlying sense of blame in the movement, that if you aren't happy, it's because you have drawn negative experiences to yourself. That's a pretty heavy burden to carry. And not one that the research supports.

Shit happens. Sometimes we're up. Sometimes we're down. Sometimes we're somewhere in the middle.

I agree with the article's conclusion:

"In other words, happiness, as a state of being, is fleeting at best. As humans, a restless contentment is probably the best we can hope for. A benign acceptance of life as it is, rather than an optimistic yearning for endless bliss."

Accepting what is. I think that's the most challenging of all life lessons. One I'm still in the process of learning.

tall penguin

2 comments:

Rahul said...

I dig your research, TP. A personal find from my own research regarding what chemical mix provides the best kind of "happy" in me resulted in spirulina. Who knew this would beat out caffeine, nocotine, codeine, alcohol, and other fine smokables?

Point is, I guess, that experimentation with self help and self medication comes with any level of justifcation required or imagined. And a little bit of knowledge is a terrible thing. I wish I had never read about placebos, for example.

tall penguin said...

Awww yes, placebo. Does make the head spin doesn't it? I really think much of life is placebo. I just think some placebos are better than others. :)