Is Our Obsession With Happiness Creating A (Self-Diagnosed) Epidemic?

Self-medication is on the rise. And so is self-diagnosis. Wait, scratch that, am I allowed to say these things without a statistic to back me up? But I say it as a fact, because the reality for most of us, is that these statements are hard to refute. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who is not on antidepressants , who doesn’t indulge in a little pill pick me up or who doesn’t define themselves as anxious or depressed.

Mental illness has lost a lot of it’s stigma in the past 5 years. Everyone from your sister to celebrities are speaking out about their struggles with anxiety and depression. They’re not ashamed, and they shouldn’t be. With this newfound awareness comes a new wave of acceptance… And a bandwagon of people who are not medically diagnosed as either, throwing around these terms with no great weight. The truth is you don’t need a licence to proclaim that you suffer from social anxiety, to a room full of people confidently.

Is mental illness an epidemic or is self-diagnosis an epidemic? Why are we so obsessed rather, with being unhappy?

Upon reflection of my own definition of happiness and what the term has come to mean to me, I had to ask myself if the environment I lived in played a factor. And so I ask: Are we really all unhappy or do we just feel this pressure to be unhappy about something?

Or, is our quest for happiness, the source for all of this unhappiness and anxiety?

Perhaps we’re the generation that expects too much, perhaps we’ve developed this obsession with happiness, whereby it can only be attained via success, where we feel if we are not successful (by Instagram lifestyle standards) then we cannot be happy, and that makes us very.. Unhappy. And stressed. Buy this and you will be happier with softer skin. You will be happier with those new sneakers. We should be doing more. We should be richer. We should be more confident.Our happiness depends on it.

Right?

Well, no.

Happiness is not a state of being. Happiness is a feeling, its a rush, it’s a fleeting emotion. That’s what makes it so memorable. Happiness comes fast, and leaves just as fast, but it lingers with a hug of contentment. Now contentment. That is sustainable. It’s a feeling of peace and satisfaction. Contentment is happiness’ best friend, he’s the one we need. Contentment is always there if we are willing to accept it.

Often I’ve heard ‘happiness is a choice’. This is a lie. You can choose to be giddy and slap a great big smile on your face for the 16 hours until you can go to sleep. But frankly you’d look a bit odd, and I would think it’d be a bit tiring after a while.

Because human nature is to feel. It’s to feel disappointed when the last cronut is sold. It’s to feel nervous for an interview. To feel scared when you watch a horror movie. To cry because you miss someone. Feeling pressure to feel happiness 24/7 discredits you to feel anything other than what you actually do. It makes you feel guilty about something you cannot help.

But you can choose contentment. You can feel okay with feeling whatever you do. You can choose to feel okay that you’re working towards your goals. You can choose to be content that you are alive, that you are grateful for a friend or your family. You can choose to be okay with where you are, and know that’s where you should be for now.

Ask yourself if you’re really unhappy- or just sick of feeling like you should be.

 

 

*This post does not seek to devalue the experiences of people who are clinically diagnosed with depression or anxiety that hinders them from functioning in everyday life.

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