Everyday in the media and social media I hear about happiness.
Gross National Happiness,
polls, songs, quotes…
what’s with all the happiness?
Is wretchedness and melancholy really that out of style?
Where are the memes celebrating the drudgery of everyday life?
Where are all the T-shirts promoting doom and gloom?
If happiness is sooooo easy why does everyone have to be constantly reminded to be happy?
When did we become so obsessed with measuring and quantifying happiness? When it became big business, that’s when. I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately so I was drawn to The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being by William Davies(Verso). I felt the book was overly academic, like I needed a degree in something to understand it, but it did have some fascinating, logical, brilliant, and disturbing points about how we’re being sold happiness and at what cost. Happiness is a new religion.
But what if we’re being sold a one-size-fits-all happiness coat? It seems to insulate us against heartache, but instead, it’s drafty, the seams are fraying, and oops, it’s not waterproof. I’ve been sales-pitched happiness for years, and I’m starting to feel consumer fatigue. I’m guessing a lot of people aren’t feeling ‘the happy’ the way they’re told they should be feeling it, especially if the amount of loneliness, antidepressants, and boredom are any indication.
I find people endlessly fascinating, though I could live to be a 1000 and still never grasp their full complexity. Maybe I don’t want to, there’s nothing more thrilling than a mystery. I’ve observed that people seem to think they have to add things and people to their life to be happier, but what if it’s quite the opposite, what if you have to remove things and people to be happier?
I decided to start my own Happiness Savings Plan – pool then diversify my assets and lose some liabilities. I want to make sure I keep falling in love, over and over again, with my son’s laughter, books, music, clouds, chocolate, TV, movies, loved ones, conversation, kittens, dreams, puppies, laughter, hope…I’m tired of hearing about: The Kardashians, FIFA, Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn (I don’t care about the choice, I’m just sick of endless publicity-seeking), spy pigeons, wrinkled selfies (pretty much all selfies at this point actually), drought shaming, fat shaming, age shaming, sex mad marsupials…sigh,I’m feeling less happy just thinking about it all.
So for the next 365 days my plan is to make changes, one per day, mostly removing things; perhaps it will make me happier, perhaps not, only time will tell.
I invite you, my dear readers to join, if you so wish, don’t feel like you need to, or do the same changes. And don’t worry, there won’t be endless posts about my C-C-Changes Plan, just an update here and there…
My first week is as follows:
1. Remove 15 minutes or more of internet time per day.
2. Remove 15 minutes or more of news/politics per day.
3. Remove 15 minutes or more of sitting per day.
4. Give up one TV show.
5. Change 15 minutes of screen time into reading or listening to a book time.
6. Take 15 minutes or more to organize .
7. Learn something new each day.
It might be challenging, but as G.K. Chesterton reminded us, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”