For many, reaching a state of happiness now feels like a job we have to add to our to-do list so we don’t forget it. But it’s beginning to feel like a job we may never get to tick off.
With over 3 billion people actively sharing their thoughts and photos of their lives on social media, people have never felt more pressure to appear happy. It’s no wonder our perception of what makes us actually feel happy is becoming skewed. The World Health Organisation reports that over 450 million people worldwide suffer from mental health issues and they indicate the increased use of social media is largely to blame. The negative impact on our wellbeing from using it is well documented, but in this context I want to address how it’s contributing to your happiness; or unhappiness.
How do we quantify if we’re truly happy?
For some, the word happiness is becoming overused and misrepresented in our minds, it’s become a chore, a never ending task with no completion in sight. WHY? Because our moral compass which defines our own state of happiness has been knocked off track due to modern day living. We want more! But as we strive for it, we forget what it means to be happy along the way. Living beyond our means now becomes the norm as we’re no-longer content with what we already have. Whether that’s emotionally, physically or financially.
I’ll be happy when….
Do any of these phrases resonate with you?
I buy my dream house
I have the perfect wedding
I buy new clothes
I get that new job
I get that promotion
I get pregnant
I have a baby
I can go back to work
I start earning more money
I get more likes on my instagram photo
I gain more social media followers
I launch my own business
I quit my job
Smoke and Mirrors
Social media has allowed us to show people that in any given moment we can demonstrate happiness. A new outfit, a corner of your home, a cup of coffee with a heart shape on top of it, a fancy dinner you’ve cooked, a holiday you’ve been on. We’re all guilty of sharing our happiness in that moment for the world to see. It’s important to remember though that a split second image posted online is just that, a split second of happiness, which on many (I would argue most) occasions as we’ve seen with celebrities, often isn’t the true representation of that moment. Are we becoming the smoke and mirrors of our own lives?
Have you noticed the growing epidemic of Narcissism? The ME ME ME culture is so prevalent nowadays it’s hard to ignore and it’s beginning to influence us. We may even sometimes forget to think about ourselves as we live precariously through others. We’re beginning to measure our happiness when someone, (who we may not even know) likes a photo on our instagram, it can make us feel happy and validated.
As we live out our lives online it’s easy to forget about the real world. We forget what real human connection is and the importance of talking. When someone you know posts a happy photo online it’s easy to presume they must be great and everything is fine.
The challenge with today’s society is that it’s no longer just celebrities and people in the public eye who pursue a perfect image. The average Joe Bloggs is feeling the unmountable pressure to live a perfect instagrammable life too, striving for happiness, in their relatively mundane lives. I say that in jest, no human being, whatever status they appear to hold is better than the next. But it’s important to remember, that it’s OK to be an average Joe, there is a stupendous amount of happiness to be found here, in fact I would say we all need to get back to being ok with being ‘just average.’
So how do we find real happiness, again?
By learning to live in the present moment, appreciating every little detail we can begin to find OUR version of happiness, because being happy is subjective. It is not a collective experience, it is only defined by what you feel based on your internal happiness barometer. You get there by addressing the big life question, who am I? Realising your own values is fundamental, writing them down and reviewing them weekly will begin to keep you present and grounded.
To find stillness, come back to your breath by doing your daily meditation practice. Seek clarity and calmness so you can feel inside more authentically when happiness and joy show up.
Exercise: Write down everything that makes you happy.
Now, cross everything out on your list that can be purchased? What are you left with?
Keep your happiness list close to you, you might want to call it a gratitude list, it doesn’t really matter, it just matters that you begin to bring some awareness to what it means to be happy in your own life. Be kind to yourself, step out of the way of your ego, know that you are enough and don’t be afraid to be YOU.