The delusional persuit of happiness
My grandfather told my father that he should earn more money as he did. This was his life advice for him. (Luckily there has been a huge inflation.) Parents nowadays say that the most important thing for their children is to be happy. It doesn’t matter anymore what they choose for a job, as long as they are happy, it’s fine with them. The pursuit of happiness, almost everybody in the world is on the journey. Yet we know so little about it. Maybe this pressure on being happy can also have an unexpected “negative” effect. Can the quest for happiness cause pressure? And does it make us focus on unhappiness too much? Because the pursuit of happiness by definition means that you don’t have it yet. Allow me to share a radical vision on this topic, you might not agree with me, and that is okay. I agree to disagree.
As most parents are unable to connect emotionally with their children, let alone teach them about emotions and how to express them, children become emotionally stressed. And since more parents work a full-time job than ever before, parents also have less time for their offspring, as a consequence they are unable to meet the emotional needs of a child. And as most parents have never learned to fulfil their own emotional needs because of their own childhood, we live in a stressful society where people are chasing the wrong things. A child who hasn’t had his emotional needs met, becomes stressed. Even if 9 out of 10 needs are met, when the child has not learned to deal with this one issue, the child remains stressed. A child needs safety, lots of time, unconditional love, autonomy and needs to learn about his emotions and how to express itself.
The parent also has been sold a picture of family happiness, just like in the Disney fairy-tale love stories, this will eventually cause deception, as it is not how a family works. Especially when they haven’t learned to connect with themselves and their children. A child learns to do whatever it needs to do to receive any form of love from the parents and feels the parents emotional state and denial, dealing with this is confusing for children and makes them question themselves. Some parents are only able to give negative attention and other parents are giving more love to happy children. As long as the child is happy, plays nice and fits in the perfect family picture the child can be loved. Of course parenting can be so overwhelming when there are problems with the child, so the child learns to be happy for love. When a parent also tells that it wants them to become happy, the child will do whatever it thinks it needs to do to achieve this in the future. Being happy has in this common example been the coping mechanism of the child, the way to receive love and attention from a busy and disconnected parent. Being happy isn’t a primal need for the child though, it wants what it has learned that it will bring.
Because of the emotional stress and society’s pressure to become happy, we are really chasing the wrong things. And if you are convinced that a certain thing will make you happy – and in reality it doesn’t – will you fool yourself and convince yourself to be happy? Will you fool others to make them believe in your imaginary story? Chasing anything is a dualistic behaviour, based on polarity. Condemning one part in favour of the other half. Whatever unhappiness might be, we would have to reject it. In most cases however, unhappiness is the lack of connection with ourselves and others. It is the inner child who is silently crying for the unconditional love and safety it never had. It is the pressure that we need to become anything and it is to involve yourself in any type of coping strategy. Not only does the pursuit mean that you cannot be happy now, the pursuit itself is the reason why we don’t understand our unhappiness.
The pressures and ideas about what happiness exactly is, depends from person to person. Some confuse it with the temporary emotion, but most people mean a state of resolving childhood issues. This state cannot be found outside of yourself. A stressed person who has learned any type of coping strategy has by definition a busy mind. This busy mind is caused by the inner child who has learned to cope with life. It feels like there is something wrong and is analysing life for ways to fix this. The person has become a problem solver, scanning the world for problems, not knowing that the problem is within. If you perceive the world through your mind, you will see things that match the mind. It works like a filter, the only stuff that can pass, is the stuff it is focussing on. To go within is painful, to stop identifying with the stressed mind is painful. It takes courage to leave the pride of our strategies behind and become aware of thought- and behavioural patterns. Would you face the reality that your mind isn’t as happy as you want it to be? Or do you look the other way, because it doesn’t fit in a desired picture of yourself? Many people believe going this way will destroy the world they know, and yes it will. Something new can arise, the journey of relearning about real love.
I believe my life would have been completely different if my grandfather taught this to my father. But it is obvious that we are evolving.