10 Aug How To Immediately Be Happier
As the great comedian Louis CK reminds us, “Everything is awesome and nobody is happy”. We are living in the greatest, most advanced time in all of humanity and yet we feel confused. At times we feel worried about the state of the world and actually, we feel strangely unfulfilled with what life has offered up for us. What has happened? Well, you can attribute many things to this change in our collective psyche but i’d like to offer my opinion. With the power of advertising and news media becoming so strong in the past few decades, I feel that we’ve fallen victim to a collective fear mongering news cycle and an intensely ego driven marketing world. Without noticing it and innocently enough, we have taken their word as law instead of realising that these are just huge entities that have only one goal: profit. I think what’s needed here is for us all to take a step back and remember, and that’s the key word, remember, what is that is truly important to us.
I read a great tweet last year that said “Just turned on CNN and i’m now convinced ISIS is going to kill us all with Ebola”. Bad taste maybe, but if you watch CNN you would realise this tweet is an accurate commentary on the phenomenal scare mongering tactics of big media. Whether it’s an industrial fire, a plane crash or a “terrorist attack”, CNN does a fantastic job at making us feel like the end of the world is nigh; that we need to lock ourselves in our homes and not trust anybody in the street. The sad thing is, from talking to my friends in media, this stuff sells. They tell me that anytime they put on a good news story or show a human interest piece, ratings drop. It’s us. We’ve become addicted to fear and anxiety and we can’t get enough of it.
Now, what about advertising? What has that done to us? Well, take women’s magazines for example. The cover of every one has a skinny girl, with flawless skin, hair done perfectly and dressed in the latest fashion. So, what does that do to a woman? It makes her think, consciously or not, that this is what I should be like. This is how I need to be and that is what I need to look like to be a real woman. To say it another way, she thinks, however I am now is not right, I need to be different. Suddenly, we’ve dropped out of the present moment and we’ve created an impossible image to look up to. And why? Because a magazine said we should look that way. Why is it good for the magazine? Because when we feel inadequate and like we need more, we buy more magazines to make sure we’re on the right track, to double check that we’re getting this summers look just right. For guys maybe it’s slightly more subtle but it’s still present. Maybe it’s seeing an add for a type of truck that subtly says “You’re not a real man unless you drive this vehicle”.
What does all this news and advertising do to us? Well, to be blunt, it perniciously ruins our lives. It makes us lock our houses down at night so that we become the prisoners. It reminds us that we can’t possibly be happy and that nobody will love us unless we have a six pack. It presents as a feeling of inadequacy. Why isn’t my life more exciting? If only I could be more like Kate, then I would be truly happy. The end result: We never get to enjoy the present moment and life quietly slips us by.
So, how do we turn this around? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Turn off the news, cancel your newspaper subscriptions, stop buying women’s magazines and become aware of what advertising is doing to your psyche! Know that life really is beautiful and you are perfect right now, how you are! Start really trying to live in and appreciate the present moment. Realise that yesterday is gone and tomorrow doesn’t exist. All you have is this moment right now to be complete and fully in love with yourself. Then, start to realise that it’s not about competing with other people or racing to collect more things. That’s ego stuff. The ego is just some weird inbuilt thing inside of us that wants to compete and win and be better than everyone else but it’s ultimately fruitless. You can buy all the latest stuff, work to get the perfect body and buy all the latest fashions and maybe you will be happy for a little bit, but then what? What happens when that stuff goes away? True happiness comes from the opposite end of the spectrum, where we only compete with ourselves. Where we see ourselves as one collective humanity that are all in it together. It’s those deep human connections and making a difference in other people’s lives where true joy comes from and ultimately what will move us forward as a society.
Over the last eight weeks, I can honestly say that I haven’t watched any news channels or read any newspaper at all. The change has been quite profound. I’ve noticed i’m free to be more present in the moment and not constantly distracted by the news around me. I’m blissfully unaware of anything that is not in my immediate sphere of influence. You may say that is ignorance and in a way, it is. But I am choosing to be ignorant of everything that is out of my control or anything has been processed by a media hype machine. Instead, I prefer to spend time speaking to all of the intelligent people around me that can help me to understand and discuss the real issues. It’s a tough habit to break but I encourage you to try it, the change can be profound.
So, I challenge you for the next week to avoid the news and just start observing some of the subtle thoughts you have that might not be all that they seem.
Stop watching or reading the news for one week. Observe the subtle difference in how you feel.
Woman: You are beautiful and perfect just the way you are. Have a week free of reading any woman’s magazine and feel the difference.
Actively try and spend time with intelligent, informative people and learn about the real issues in a much more beneficial way.