The happiness trap


People’s obsession with happiness is getting even more bizarre. I’ve been observing it for a while, and I find it absurd. They treat happiness as if it’s underwear or maybe a sock. They pull it out of a drawer in the morning, wear it all day like a pair of comfy cotton panties, and when they get back home, they just throw the happiness in the laundry basket. Then they start all over again. Like maniacs.

I go on Instagram, and every third post is a version of the same message: “Always be happy”. It really is absurd! God, even looking at this twisted culture of never-ending happiness is exhausting. And I find it dangerous, too. In reality, every mania is dangerous. I scroll down through various grinning faces, comfortably tucked into their cotton happiness panties. They strictly follow the instruction to always be happy. That’s how you fit in, right? So, they are happy in photos, on their way to work, in the supermarket, clutching an avocado, in their Instagram post about yoga, on the metro, and everywhere else…

Damn, am I the only person who is visibly unhappy? I can’t do this constant happiness, and it gets even worse when everyone keeps going on about it. Of course, now I also feel guilty for not fitting in with the maniacal always-be-happy cult. But as it turns out, no happiness can be pulled out of my drawers. Not in the socks drawer, nor in the underwear one. Or maybe the problem lies in the cult?

I would define this cult as a “Happiness Trap”. First, it teaches people how to turn happiness into a necessity. Then, how to deprive it of its uniqueness and of its function to appear from time to time. Finally, happiness becomes some ordinary impersonal daily routine. Our culture says that all this is normal. And just like that, it’s now normal to always be happy? I suspect people forget exactly what happiness looks like, and they can no longer distinguish it because the trap has clicked shut.

Once in it, their expectations and beliefs get distorted. They go crazy with the idea of being happy 24/7. No one tells you how to achieve this. Because it’s technically impossible, I would suppose. The human mind simply doesn’t work this way. Still, this new mass illusion is the perfect way to make your mind define you as an unhappy creature caught in the quest for everyday happiness. Another paradox of humanity.

I’d rather define happiness as a strong shot. Life’s twists and turns take you to a bar, and you hit a shot of happiness, it burns you, it makes you dizzy, then you move on. I think this is the better way of experiencing it. You can’t have shots of happiness all the time. You will become drunk, living in a fog, where everything merges. We need balance. That is how the universe works, and this mass illusion is like being constantly switched to high voltage. So it’s logical that you’ll burn out in the end. And this is what actually happens – people burn out.

There is another thing about the always-be-happy cult that I don’t get. I can’t think of a person who has made a significant change in life in a moment of happiness. But, on the contrary, it is precisely the times of hardness that help us understand who we truly are, and what our dreams and desires indeed are. The positive change – or at least the first steps – begins when people realise that they lack balance, true happiness is not there for them, or they have forgotten how to experience it. There is another thing that also confuses me. People strictly follow the instruction to be always happy, yet they keep looking increasingly unhappy. At least that’s what their facial expressions tend to show. Another paradox.

If I were better at communicating with people, I’d tell them: “Don’t be happy today and get the fuck out of that trap! You live in a fog!”. I guess they would just frown at me. They don’t like out-of-the-box points of view, and they’d rather avoid them because out-of-the-box can be stressful. Some people, however, manage to get out of the trap, even if it’s difficult. They change discourse and redirect their energy from the maniacal pursuit of everyday happiness, towards achieving true balance. I would also tell them something else. I would even shout it at the top of my lungs: “Don’t be happy today. Be balanced. Every second. Every minute. Every day”.

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