Thursday, November 27, 2014

Expecting the Worst

Recently, I read an article about the seven habits of chronically unhappy people. Most of these kinds of articles tend to be written for middle to upper-class white citizens living in the United States, but there were some very good points in this particular article. It definitely generated quite a stir with hundreds of people commenting on it.

A lot of the advice given on how to address these unhealthy habits was common sense, but simply pointing out the habits was enough to get me thinking. The article clearly stated that most people go from being happy to unhappy fairly regularly, and that's normal. Unfortunately, some people live in a constant state of worry and unrest. Many of the people commenting missed the part about some ups and downs being fine as long as you can figure out ways to avoid getting sucked under. What was more important to me was addressing the thinking around the habits and how important it is to be aware of why some of us tend to slip into these unhealthy habits in the first place. If nothing more, it's always good to take a look at our core beliefs and how they affect us.

On a side note, I can't stand the word victim. When people talk about playing the victim, it implies that pain and hurt are not real, and feelings are being denied. Yes, there are people who do see themselves as the victim, but it's important to consider why that happens. It seems victim is a word that's overused, misunderstood and misused.

A lady once told me that every woman, even those living in third-world countries, should stop playing the victim, because everyone has the ability to change his or her circumstances. She went on to claim that she hated feminists. Sure circumstances can change, but I have a feeling she would be singing a slightly different tune if she had no money, no transportation, no way of attending school and no support from her family or the community. It's weird how we become so complacent in this country but expect others to just change, buck the system and go against fixed and ingrained laws that are punishable by death or, at minimum, a dose of burning acid to the face.

What I'm finding more and more, whether it's people discussing feminism, Ferguson or heath care, is that the human element seems to be missing. We get so caught up talking in abstract terms, we forget there are real people involved in the issues. I am sure the internet has a lot to do with this. Human connection seems to be slipping away, even as we electronically network with more and more individuals.

I'm jumping around a bit, but hang with me here.

The other day, I got into a facebook debate. It had to do with a video in which a woman walked down the streets of New York receiving catcalls over many hours of filming. One person in the debate believes that it's the responsibility of the person receiving the mostly negative, sometimes threatening attention to suck it up and not be affected. Words are, after all, merely sounds that can't actually hurt anyone. As you can imagine, I am not of this opinion. It ended up being quite the debate.

What bothered me most about the whole thing was the bullshit Boulder spiritual woo this guy spouted. I think he was trying to sound smart, because he kept insisting that everyone was stupid while he demonstrated that he had no real understanding of anything science related. Go for the low blow when you have nothing of substance to say, I guess. It's upsetting that people like this are in a position to act as mentors to others. Apparently, he works as a life coach.

I'm all for positive thinking, but people here take it to an absurd level. There's a lot of talk about manifesting and "no negative energy in my sacred space" while the very people who spout these beliefs inflict their judgment and negativity on others. Hey, as long as you're happy, it's all good, right? Yeah, yoga-apparel-wearing, snotty lady, when you glare at me for simply walking by, snub me when I smile and say hello or make nasty comments about my appearance, you're not exactly being positive or nice. In fact, you're being pretty awful. Same goes when you call me stupid, oh so spiritual guy.

My concern is that people buy this shit. If you present anything in a pretty enough package and toss out enough new age rhetoric, people seem gullible enough to believe it. I have a friend who's smart, together and grounded, yet she goes to these charlatans who talk about quantum physics, even though they have no science background. They tell her that if she used the power of her mind, she really could put her hand through a wall, because, you know, there's so much space between atoms. That sounds really exciting, but it's just not accurate. Maybe if electrons sat still and all forces between atoms were eliminated, you could walk through a wall, but the world as we know it would also probably fall apart. But people take a teeny bit of truth and skew it in order to control others...and get money, of course. And people lap this shit up. It's sad. I'm sure some of the people who preach believe what they are saying, but my guess is the majority of them know more about the right terms to use to get people to cough up some dough.

In terms of being happy, finding the perfect pill, the next big self-help breakthrough or the best fad diet probably won't make you happy. If we constantly search for happiness outside ourselves, in a partner or shopping sprees, we probably won't find it. Things may seem different on the surface, but ultimately happiness comes from within.

But I'm not so sure we have to constantly assess our state of being in order to be happy. Sometimes I think it's better to be living and feeling than to be happy. Sometimes choices that are right don't lead to happiness at all. Sometimes achieving great things doesn't lead to happiness, and that's OK. I think we would all be better off if we focused more on how to be a part of the world and dropped the Hollywood idea that we have to be happy. Life isn't always fun. My goal in life is to be a better person, not to always have a smile on my face.


  1. I just spent 15 minutes on what passed for a thoughtful and heartfelt comment and when I hit the "preview" button, it fucking disappeared. Now I know why I don't deal with blogs much anymore.

    1. With Blogger, it usually takes a minimum of three tries to post a comment, and even then it doesn't always work. With Wordress, you can generally post comments, but once you do, nobody can see them.

      Thank you for trying, though.