Why you Need to Read This Blog

Why you Need to Read This Blog

I don’t know about you but I’m sick of being told that I need to be happy.

My Facebook feed is filled with articles about the seven things I need to do right now to be happy. Or articles saying this is what happy people do and I should do it too. And sure, it all makes perfect sense, but then I just sit around wondering why all these articles sound exactly the same, and if it’s all that simple, why can’t we all do what we apparently should be doing?

The pursuit of happiness is an internet craze. It’s not enough to have food in our bellies, a roof over our heads and a high speed internet connection. We want more. We want to be happy, motivated and loved. We don’t want to be miserable, lazy and hated. We constantly chase after the good, while simultaneously trying to avoid the bad, and our lives pass us by in a massive conveyor belt of experiences that are never quite good enough (and if they are, they never quite last long enough).

Honestly, I have no idea what bloggers mean when they talk about happiness. No one defines it. No one says ‘when I say ‘happiness’ I mean ‘this, this and this’, and so it’s up for interpretation. And the interpretation seems to be: Happiness means feeling good all or most of the time, and feeling bad rarely, if at all.

It’s time to call bullshit. This constant need to feel good all the time is getting old, and it’s exhausting. The worst part is it doesn’t even work. The more we chase happiness, the more elusive it becomes. Eric Hoffer once said, “the search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness”, and science agrees 1.

Think about it: despite advances in the treatment of depression more, the rate of depression continues to rise 2. Why? One suggestion is that the way humans are biologically and culturally set up to cope with crappy life events is inadequate3. Society doesn’t teach us how to cope effectively, so we fall back on human nature, and human nature screams “avoid!” and we all nod our heads and say ‘yes, yes, suppress the anxiety, what a great idea! Hand me another Xanax’.

Everything good in life is going to be accompanied by some kind of physical or emotional discomfort. This is not news. To get a nice derrière you need to work out, and working out is uncomfortable, especially if you’re unfit. To fall in love you need to open yourself up to some disappointing experiences – awkward first dates, guys who don’t call you back, and a girlfriend who you thought was different but ends up cheating on you anyway. And to feel happy, you’ve got to be open to feeling bad.

The problem is human beings hate discomfort, and so we avoid it, and we end up sacrificing the very things that make our lives worthwhile.

What don’t you want in your life? What have you tried to get rid of it? Did it work? If it did – that’s great! If it didn’t – maybe it’s time for a shift in perspective. Maybe it’s time to start living life how you want to live it right now, regardless of how you feel. Maybe you don’t have to get rid of anything. Maybe you really can feel the fear and do it anyway.

Simple right? Problem solved. Uh, not quite…

The problem isn’t that we don’t know what to do. We know. Oh we definitely know. We are inundated with what’s, and blog posts and self-help books telling us exactly what to do. The problem is that we don’t know how. We don’t know how to deal with the thoughts, and emotions, and problems that stop us from doing what it is we need to do to live a fulfilling life. We don’t know how to feel the fear and do whatever it is we want to do.

The Yellow Brick Blog is about how to take action to change your life for the better. Plus there will be science. Because science tell us what works, why it works, and how to implement it. The Yellow Brick Blog is not about sitting behind your computer screen emotionally masturbating to motivational posts and lists of things you need to do or should do. This blog is about doing.

I’m not an expert. I don’t have a sob story that somehow makes me qualified to tell you how to live your life. I’m just a girl who happens to read scientific articles for fun on Saturday nights.

How you live your life is up to you. I’m just going to make some science-based suggestions. So welcome. Benefit from my geekiness. Someone has to.

Image credit: Sarah Joy CC license 2.0

Footnotes

  1. Eric Hoffer as cited in Ford, B. Q., & Mauss, I. B. (2014). The paradoxical effects of pursuing positive emotion. In Gruber, J. & Moskowitz, J. T. (Eds.), Positive Emotion: Integrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides. Oxford Scholarship Online.
  2. Prescriptions for antidepressants have increased over time (see this report), and rates in depression appear to have been rising since the early 90s (see Compton et al., 2006 and Hidaka, 2012). This isn’t surprising, if more people get depressed than more drugs will be prescribed to treat them. But it suggests that there’s something driving rises in depression that isn’t being addressed.
  3. Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1–25. doi:10.1016/j.brat.2005.06.006

14 Comments

  1. A grand start and I am looking forward to reading lots more on the subject of happiness.

    Reply
    • Thanks Mum :)

      Reply
  2. I love it! You will do great!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much! It means a lot you took the time to read and comment :)

      Reply
      • I posted before I was ready, so here I am again :-)

        The idea that life should be a continuous journey of happiness is overrated and unattainable, indeed. The truth is, most people live in denial. They cannot handle pain and fear because of luck of discipline, of no trust in their inner healing powers and those of the universe, of their inability and unwillingness to change their attitudes…because they are reaching for easy solutions, and all this because they harbor feelings of entitlement to eternal happiness.

        Suffering when accepted and dealt with mature approaches can be the means to enrich our being and help us be the best we can physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

        As you said, it takes hard word, and most are not willing to do it.

        I post and also have written a book (doing last edits) about wellness and spiritual growth as acquired through my many years of joys and hardships in my life. I have posted in “What Are You Writing About” the summary of my book and my website link. Feel free to read and visit.

        Wishing you great success in your journey!

        Blessings of abundant love, joy, and inspiration!

        Katina Vaselopulos

        Reply
        • Thank you Katina! As my Dad likes to say “everybody wants to be happy, but nobody wants to change”. I look forward to checking out your writing.

          Reply
  3. Totally agree. How can you know what happy feels like if you’ve never felt sad?

    Reply
    • Exactly :) Thanks for commenting x

      Reply
  4. Happiness is an emotion and it’s unhealthy to be stuck in any emotion all the time. How can you help the world if you don’t see the faults within it?
    I prefer contentment. This is a far superior state than happiness. Contentment is underrated but so peaceful and it comes in many varieties.
    A Roast Chicken dinner.
    An episode of a fave TV show and a treat next to you.
    A conversation with a friend.
    Hearing the dishwasher and washing machine going.
    Clean sheets.
    All bliss.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. Contentment, what a beautiful feeling!

      Reply
  5. This is fantastic. My latest post is called “Nourishing Happiness,” and is about attempts to nourish myself so that the moments of happiness can actually happen. I do get caught up in the unrealistic idea that somehow I should be happy all the time, and you’re right, it is a complete internet craze, a misguided cultural ideal. Thinking about it now, I wonder if I just let go and let happiness happen when it happens (far less often then I think it should), I might be, if not happier, then less stressed, less disappointed. I’ll take that! I look forward to reading more and benefitting from your geekiness. :) yay, science!

    Reply
    • Aww thanks so much Katie! I am so happy you enjoyed it :)

      You know, when I stop trying to feel better all the time, I tend to feel better because I feel less stressed and irritable. It’s quite remarkable.

      I’d love to check out your blog. What’s the link?

      Reply
  6. I am just loving your blog, the background pictures are amazing:) Thank you for visiting mine!
    I will be definitely back to read some more!

    Reply
    • Thank you :) And you’re welcome. I’ll be back!

      Reply

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