Happiness For Sale
A lot of the things that I get on my instagram, facebook feed and news apps are self-development, self-growth, self-care quotes, life coaching programs and webinars ads. They all promise to make you happier if you follow their techniques. Personally I’m a bit overwhelmed with that because I can literally watch something that says “You cannot be where you want to be if you don’t have the right people in your life” by Will Smith, encouraging me to get rid of all the toxicity and literally the next thing that I see can be someone else saying “… this year focus on love. Love gets you where you want to be. Be more accepting and open to other people”. It feels like it’s becoming too much of a product. The gratuitous quotes “With every cloud there is a rainbow” ,the selling of short cuts to our dream self and to life lessons defeat the purpose.
The journey that some of us have decided to embark on which focuses on the idea of expansion, self-awareness and in questioning what happiness actually means to us has become a product that’s lucrative and not just for people who are interested in developing themselves personally but in the corporate world too. There are webinars to train their staff and encourage employees to think about their productivity and their integrity and work ethic. It’s become such a product that I’m getting a lot of advertising for it because of the oh so magical algorithm that knows exactly what i’m feeling and what i’m thinking. It’s become ludicrous how i’ll get a post telling me to do one thing and another article advising me to do another within the same minute. Not that it’s giving me direct orders or anything but like Banksy once said on Letter On Advertising: An advertisement is like throwing a stone at someone. Once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it. So it’s very strange to be stimulated in this way on a consistent level. I’m sure we’ve all seen a lot of documentaries including Social Dilemma on Netflix which got everyone discussing how the algorithm follows us around and guesses our next step. However I’m feeling that when it comes to self-development, life coaches and success gurus, we need to keep our eye on the donut and understand that if there’s any one person that says they have the exact 12-step program or the perfect strategy for you to achieve life long happiness, they’re very likely wrong. No one has that type of information to offer you.
Whereas a teacher or mentor can be undeniably helpful, it’s a personal journey where one must dig deeper and learn to accept oneself. The promises made by these ads are really really big. Tony Robbins telling people to quit their jobs now! To leave their spouse! And to do it now, here in front of everyone! It’s really insane. No one can have that much insight into your soul but you. If you think about it, a lot of the gurus that we’ve heard of became known in the west in the 60s coming from India and Tibet and we westernized in a typical consumer-like response.
I’m already on my journey and i don’t need to see inspirational quotes and life changing seminars every day on my feed. Whereas I also like to post a phrase that inspires me here and there once a week, I think it’s important for us to not try to resume everything to that one magical phrase. I’ve read amazing quotes such as Maya Angelo’s “When somebody tells you who they are believe them.” which makes so much sense but I’m still going to make the mistake of trusting someone untrustworthy next time because it’s not enough for me to understand it on a logical level. I need to experience it in order to actually learn. I sometimes get more anxious and scared that I’ll never be enough and that I’ll never achieve inner peace because there’s so much out there pressuring me to follow these mindfulness tips which aren’t always sensical or fitting. I’m certain it’s not their intent to cause added stress but once you see four or five advertisements all focused on self-development it becomes an invasion on my own timing.
Everything that i have learned, I’ve learned in the order that i had to learn it and with the people that i met that were supposed to walk into my life or I into theirs. Everything that i have incorporated as a lesson I had to experience. If I was lucky I learned the life lesson on the first go, if I was stubborn I had to go through the same mistake three, four or even five times until i got it.
Nobody has the exact same life print. Nobody’s coming from the same place. Whereas psychoanalysts and psychologists can call me a textbook example of something, it still doesn’t mean that that’s exactly how each person reacts to things and circumstances. We’re like snowflakes. We really are intrinsically different in the way that our story has been written and how we’re able or willing to write it now. The commercialism of spirituality goes against its own goal.
Something else that i find intrinsically flawed in the way that spirituality and personal growth is being advertised to me online is that it presumes that I want to have a big mansion in Malibu Beach and a swimming pool with the shape of my face and three teslas and a helipad. It’s not everyone’s idea of success. In fact ironically I did actually see a video today which i shared on my intastory which said that the happiest people aren’t necessarily the ones that have it all. The people that feel the most fulfilled and successful are in fact the ones that feel that they have been of service for the betterment of the public and their society. These people are intrinsically happier. It reminded me that success is to feel happy for the most part of the day. Today and right now is my life. It can’t always be a projection into the future. I am coming to understand that wanting the big house, the public recognition and big financial resources isn’t necessarily for everyone. For some of us success can mean to make a difference in small pockets of society but in a way that can be more effective and profound.
I think it’s important to understand that our life doesn’t need to look good for it to be good. Your house doesn’t need to look a certain way for it to make you feel the way that you need it to make you feel. I struggled with that because it was fed to me from such a young age what success was supposed to look like and what a nice happy life was supposed to look like. The private jet, celebrity, expensive clothes but I don’t actually believe that it would make me happy. It might actually be very boring, annoying and tiring.
For each chapter of our life we’ll have different definitions of what makes us happier and I hope that we can all remember to give priority to how we’re feeling rather than how others are perceiving us. We’re social beings and we want approval from others but it’s very freeing to me to be thankful and appreciative of what I’ve accomplished, to understand what really makes me happy internally. Even if it doesn’t look successful to other people, to my family, my friends and colleagues. I know how it makes me feel and that’s who i’m doing this for.