Thought Catalog

Stop Giving Advice On How To Be Happy

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We’re constantly reading about it, Pharrell is singing about it. It seems as though happiness, and how to achieve it, has been a trending topic just about everywhere.

Digital magazines geared towards millennials, particularly this one and Elite Daily, are constantly publishing pieces that dole out advice to readers on how to be happy. Articles entitled “Simple Life Pleasures for Achieving Happiness” that numerically list out acts like stroking kittens and drinking Kombucha are getting trite.

Do we, members of Generation Y, who are navigating our way through the beginning stages of adulthood probably not unlike the characters of Girls, really have the authority to be giving life advice? Why do we even feel the need to try? Are we fundamentally unhappy ourselves and therefore, the act of giving advice works a means of therapeutic release? Do we fool ourselves into thinking we’re happy merely by telling others that we are and presuming that they are not? Perhaps, because of the hyper-media exposed world in which we live, we feel pressure to always be “happy” because of what we see, read, or assume about other people’s lives.

In her Slate article “If I Never Read Another Happiness Article, I Will Be Very Happy,” Katy Waldman argues that sadness can actually be cathartic. “Occasional heartache helps you appreciate the good, and it can show you, as you slog through it, your own strength.”

Constant happiness is also boring. We are all secretly wary of that one person we know who is curiously happy all the time. Every great character from a movie, TV show, or novel is not in a happy stasis but is emotionally complex, which is precisely what makes them interesting.

Of course, this is not to say we should embrace sadness with widespread open-arms and dwell in our own emotional black holes in order to be interesting. Happiness is absolutely an essential part of living and no one enjoys being around a constant downer.

By now, we are all aware of the basic things we can do to be happier. Exercise, enjoy what we do, socialize, get enough sleep, etc. etc.  But apparently only 12% of what constitutes our happiness is actually in our control. The rest is genetics and recent events. Studies suggest that one-time events, like a job promotion or engagement, control up to 40% of our happiness at any given time. Arguably, the processes of achieving these events are, to certain degrees, within our control.

Whatever the percentage, we need to stop scrutinizing over ways to control and achieve happiness. Everyone is different. We should all have our own unique path and routines to happiness and stop worrying about whether or not we are happy all the time. We are human and the ups and downs of humanness are, although scary at times, pretty awesome.

So everyone can keep giving their two cents as to what they believe can make one happy, but I’m almost definitely not going to read what you have to say anymore. Good luck, and keep in mind your advice isn’t exactly putting Xanax out of business. TC mark

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