Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Get On Your Soapbox #24

Urgh, I am SO OVER the world's OBSESSION with happiness and positive thinking.

Apparently everyone's main aim should be to be happy all the time and, if something bad happens, well, we'll just close our eyes and think positive and it will all go away.

First things first, I'm not at all meaning people who think that thinking positively will help them fight cancer or unemployment or whichever battle they are facing.  That's great!  Should we count our blessings and keep slogging away when things look bleak?  Absolutely.

What I've had a gutful of is people telling those who are suffering to just be happy because life's too short, or think positive and it will all be ok, or something else equally patronising, superficial and trite.  To the suffering, it sounds like, Shut up and get over it, I'm sick of hearing about your problems, you're ruining my happy existence.  Newsflash: life is hard, people are suffering, and no-one can be happy all the time.  If they are, they must be high on drugs.  I've had people try and get me on the happiness/positive thinking juggernaut when I've been in the midst of depression and it just made me feel worse.

The Comfort In, Dump Out model has been floated around a bit on Facebook and Meredith posted it on her blog.  It's so spot on!  People going through hard times need comfort and support, not silly whimsical advice.

I don't go for happiness.  No, I'm not a masochist or like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh (at least I hope not).  I'm a realist.  Life is hard.  We live in a fallen world.  Grief needs to be worked through and done well, not just shoved away and a fake smile plastered on.  Happiness is fleeting because it usually arises from a particular circumstance and when that circumstance changes for the worse, it is difficult to remain happy.  I don't want happiness, I want joy.  Joy is deeper.  Joy is constant.  Joy is knowing that my troubles are fleeting and one day I will be with Jesus.  One day there will be no more crying, mourning or pain.  Joy is knowing Christ, that He is Lord and my Saviour, that He loves me deeply, no matter what I may be going through all the time.  I can have tears running down my face and still be joyful because I know and trust Him.

The other reason I dislike the world's obsession with happiness is that it is so self-centred.  Happiness is all about me.  I want to feel good.  It's about having things go my way so I can feel good, so I ultimately need to keep pursuing happiness more and more.  This pursuit doesn't consider others.

Tim Minchin got it so right in his address to staff and graduates at UWA.  Watch it.  I agree with his views on the pursuit of happiness.

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