Happiness is everything. At least that’s what the Happiness Industrial Complex would like you to believe. But should it be? After all, the happiest countries are not the ones that sell the most self-help books. In this episode, we see how creativity may play into a more satisfying life.

Show Notes:

  • Happiness is Overrated – Wegs
    1. There are other more substantial goals
    2. Happiness is a byproduct of those efforts
  • The Purpose of Life is Not to Be Happy.

It is to be Useful,

To be Compassionate,

To Have it Make Some Difference that

You Have Lived & Lived Well. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • The ‘Happiest’ Countries Are Never Those Where Self-Help Books Sell the Most. — Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote
    1. What’s that tell us?
    2. Over-focusing on an end result can throw you way off track
  • Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It.

Charles R. Swindoll

  1. a) “They” don’t make you feel that way, your reaction to them does
  2. b) It takes mindfulness and practice not to let things/”them” get to you
  • Repeal the Law of Attraction — Wegs
    1. Wishful thinking rarely leads to results
    2. New Age thinking will most likely leave you unhappy in your old age
  • What Screws Us Up Most in Life is the Picture in Our Head of How It Is Supposed to Be. — Jennifer Nguyen
    1. Trying to fulfill your ideal narrative leads to a less than ideal life
    2. Leave some room for improvising, chance and luck
  • Inspiration is for Amateurs. — Chuck Close, Artist
    1. Don’t be an Inspiration Junkie
    2. You can power through with focus and effort
  • You’ll Be Happier When You Stop Trying to Be Happy…

If You Observe a Really Happy Man, You Will Find Him Building a Boat, Writing a Symphony, Educating His Child, Growing Double Dahlias or Looking for Dinosaur Eggs in the Gobi Desert.  He Will Not Be Searching for Happiness as if it were a Collar Button that Had Rolled Under the Radiator, Striving for it as a Goal in Itself.  He Will Have a Become Aware that He Will Have Become Aware He Is Happy in the Course of Living Life 24 Crowded Hours of Each Day.  — W. Beran Wolfe

Transcripts:

Welcome to Episode 15 of Navigating the Fustercluck—a podcast full of snackable insights to help you navigate the love/hate world of creativity.

My name is Wegs, like eggs with a W, joining you from Deaf Mule Studios in Dallas, and whether you work in advertising, design, gaming, fine art, commercial art, content creation, whatever it may be, we’re here to talk about your attitude & happiness and how they effect (or is that affect?) your creativity and work.

Here comes some happy talk for you, but not in the slap happy crapy way most motivational speakers serve it up. That said, let me state right off the bat…

Happiness is Overrated

In America, one thing that we all seem to be certain about is happiness. We want it. It’s everything. In fact, it’s the only thing. At least that’s what you’d think if you listen to all the happiness gurus out there. Those bright-eyed smoothies telling you that all you have to do is think your way to happiness. And that if your force-fed happy thoughts don’t make you happy, double down and think some more happy thoughts. Even more if need be. And if that doesn’t make you giddy, well sorry, it’s all your fault for being so negative!

Now here’s a little thought-bomb delivered by Ralph Waldo Emerson that really got me thinking about happiness. Ol’ Ralphie said…

The Purpose of Life is Not to Be Happy.

It is to be Useful,

To be Compassionate,

To Have it Make Some Difference that

You Have Lived & Lived Well.

Doesn’t sound like what the Happiness Industrial Complex is selling, does it now? Then again, what do they know?

The ‘Happiest’ Countries Are Never Those Where Self-Help Books Sell the Most. ~ Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote

For a country obsessed with happiness, we ain’t all that happy, people. In fact, according to the United Nations, we don’t even crack the top ten. And for all we have, we’re less happy than Mexico. Apparently the Happy Factory and its professional gurus are letting us down. So what do we do? Find a new guru after new guru after new guru until we finally find one with a message that works- we hope.

The Negative Side of Positive Thinking

Oliver Burkeman contends that America is the birthplace of positive thinking. It’s part of our Calvinistic roots. The belief that those blessed with “the good life” have the right thoughts and habits. And those with little or less must then hold inferior thoughts and habits. 

Meanwhile, in Bright-sided, Barbara Ehrenreich proposes that this mindset leads too many to see poverty as a voluntary condition. That those without are simply not thinking the right way. Or doing the right things. Or are just plum lazy. Of course who’s to say that mere things are all that important to begin with?

The Cult of Optimism

Religions don’t stress it. Philosophers don’t tout it. It’s never been seen as all that important. Until now. When it’s so important that it’s become a business. More like an entire industry. Where the Happiness Industrial Complex has promoted an often-irrational optimism that doesn’t do much more than make us unhappy.

Attitude is Everything

Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React to It.

Charles R. Swindoll

If you’re overly pessimistic, then you may give up too soon. Or you may be as crabby as toddler who misses its nap. But if you’re irrationally optimistic, you may expect things to go too well. Or unfairly judge yourself when things don’t go as well as hoped. After awhile, you may feel that you’ll never be good enough. There’s a balance. As Brian Tracy said, You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.      

Repeal the Law of Attraction

Some contend that positive thinking brings positive things to your life. All you have to do is tune into the right frequency. Send out positive vibes. And like magic, ‘poof’, what you want will suddenly appear. They call it the Law of Attraction. But if you follow that out the window, you may not follow through and put in the necessary work to earn what you want. Mind over matter means little if you don’t actually do something to make life better.

What Screws Us Up Most in Life is the Picture in Our Head of How It Is Supposed to Be. — Jennifer Nguyen

Many gurus speak of the power of visualization, picturing in your mind ahead of time how things will successfully play out. Yet fixing your mind’s eye on one outcome out can be pretty jarring when things don’t exactly work out that way. It’s good to have a plan, but have a Plan B, too. Even then you have to stay flexible and be ready to improvise.

Life is What Happens While You’re Busy Making Other Plans.      

— John Lennon

You can’t control every detail of your life. And why would you try? Who knows what you might miss out on? Life is unpredictable. Go with it.

Positive Pessimism

It’s a question of tranquility vs exhuberance. The “Happiness Industrial Complex” would have you believe that you can squeeze out both negative thoughts and outcomes by constantly exuding positivity. Some even hold that such an attitude can physically effect both you and your surroundings. But there’s another way, an ancient way that emphasizes staying clear and calm in the face of that which confuses and conflicts you. To stare it in the face, and even see your situation all the way through to its worst possible outcome to make a negative a plus.

Stoicism

It’s far from New Age. In fact, it’s ancient. Very ancient. And very Greek. Yet kinda Buddhist. And it’s gaining new attention. In a nutshell, Stoicism says that rather than trying to force ourselves to be cheerful when we don’t feel cheerful by thinking positively, it suggests we think of the worst thing that can happen and realize that whatever that worst thing is, it isn’t likely to be the end of the world. It’s a little bit more realistic. And much more forgiving. Less anxious. It also develops resilience and gratitude for what you have.

You Are Not Your Mind. — Eckhart Tolle

Detach yourself from your mind. Don’t let it control you. Own you. Race past you. Think about the thinking. Why am I scared? Mad? Sad? Give yourself time to slow down. Cool off. It’s not always easy, but it becomes easier every time you fight the urge to do something you may come to regret later.

Don’t Be Owned by the Future. — Wegs

Most of our problems lie in the future and our problem is not the problem itself but our anxiety about it. So stop it. And if you can’t, read up on it. And if that doesn’t work, seek out someone who can help. Because to live too much in the uncertainty of the future is to live in fear.

The Upside of Your Dark Side

Do You Want to Be Happy Or Whole?  — Kashdan & Biswas-Diener

The Upside of Your Dark Side is a book by Todd Kashdan, PhD., and Robert Biswas-Diener, Dr. Philosophy. Basically, this is what it says:

Pursue happiness at all cost and it will cost you. That you have to make room for your negative feelings. That all our feelings, both good and bad, have productive roles to play. In the right amounts, fear helps keep us safe. Sadness reminds us of what’s important to us. And shame can prevent us from acting impulsively. We’re not robots, so stop trying to program yourself to be happy all the time.

The Happy Trap

The Happy Trap is a marketing myth. It says that happiness is everything. That you should be as giddy as a six-year-old on a cotton candy sugar rush. Oh, and not just sometimes, but all the time. And if you’re not, there’s something wrong with you. Seriously wrong. This myth can get you so twisted up thinking, and overthinking, that you begin living so much in your head that you forget to go out into the world and really live. To focus on others. To actually make a difference.  To not just live, but to feel alive.

Inspiration Junkies

Inspiration is for Amateurs. — Chuck Close

Inspiration is for amateurs– the rest of us just show up and get to work, says the famous artist. Yet inspiration is at the heart of the Happiness Industrial Complex. For inspiration is like a maintenance drug for high blood pressure or cholesterol. It doesn’t solve your issue, it only keeps you alive for more. It’s more of an addiction than a cure. Because inspiration doesn’t solve problems, action does. Yet many think you have to wait to be inspired before you actually do something. So just do something! Action is one addiction you want to get hooked on.

Just Do It. — Nike

On procrastination, it suggests we stop trying to feel motivated and just do what we have to do–moods and actions don’t have to be related. Push hard to get going and see just how far your momentum may take you.

Let’s Take a Short Breather… (EXHALE.) Because I do believe this has already been our longest show ever.

OK…We’re here at Deaf Mule Studios to remind everyone that this is Navigating the Fustercluck. And I’m Wegs, your world-weary host hoping that you can avoid many of the mistakes I’ve made during my otherwise adventurous career. Now back to the broadcast and one final thought:

You’ll Be Happier When You Stop Trying to Be Happy

If You Observe a Really Happy Man, You Will Find Him Building a Boat, Writing a Symphony, Educating His Child, Growing Double Dahlias or Looking for Dinosaur Eggs in the Gobi Desert.  He Will Not Be Searching for Happiness as if it were a Collar Button that Had Rolled Under the Radiator, Striving for it as a Goal in Itself.  He Will Have a Become Aware that He Will Have Become Aware He Is Happy in the Course of Living Life 24 Crowded Hours of Each Day. 

— W. Beran Wolfe

Well, that about wraps up our 15th episode of Navigating the Fustercluck.

Here from Deaf Mule Studios, I’m your host, Wegs, like eggs with a W, thank you for listening in. Until then, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter at NavigatingF. Remember, we’re all in this together, so thanks for doing your best to buck the cluck. Here’s to you. Here’s to the future.