Happiness is something that bothers me. Not in the sense of Woody Allen, where realising the meaning of life is a torment that goes on through his film career, but because happiness is now lived as a “perfect object-thing”.
It’s something that takes many forms – swallowing a miracle pill, reading a catchphrase, #happiness – but which usually comes down to the simple direct consequence of an action with shallow content – it’s a contextless thing that produces no story…
And every day I am bombarded with advertising to buy this happiness. And it annoys me to be harassed for this happiness because it is a wicked product.
It may seem like paradoxical reasoning because, as a psychologist, I should be an apologist for happiness. And I am, but not this one!
Life is a fluid process in which we go through events and relationships that exist in our present or persist in memory.
This chain of experiences that provoked emotions – some dark, some gray, some very colorful – is the story of our lives!
When we ask ourselves if we are happy we can answer, “Yes, I am happy,” but this conclusion inevitably also considers bad things that have happened to us, however, the balance is positive.
The problem of “thingified” happiness is to be a product that depends on an experience without surrounding context and has to be perfect, without frustrating or annoying things. Despite being a beautiful theory it has a limit: the limit of reality. Life cannot be quartered, things that bother you do not disappear just because they are mentally ignored or because a life of seclusion (literal or symbolic) is adopted.
It is important not to forget that a half-empty glass is also half full, but it is nonetheless a half-full and half-empty glass!
We are condemned to live situations that remind us that we are people with limits and we cannot control everything with our wills or actions:
The people we admire don’t know everything either, nor will they be able to fully protect us from what scares us!
The world will always have accidents and people who take horrible actions!
But at the same time, we can take the trouble to learn how to deepen our relationship with life: developing friendships, getting to know new places and striving to contribute to a better society. It is an ongoing process of valuing what we recognize as part of our essence.
To know how to be happy, we have to know how to be sad – when we recognize what bothers us we can handle life effectively, and even if the result is not “perfect” it will certainly be a positive balance!
A few years ago a patient told me at the last appointment we had – “- This thing of being stronger and having managed to change my life is a bit sad too!” – and he was absolutely right!