It seems a contemporary irony: one wants to be happy with so much impetus, that ends up being deeply unhappy. Therapies, scientific and non-scientific, proliferate, and our greatest psychological culture it makes us hyper-analyze everything, turning into problems things that are not and that are simply part of life. It is a new tyranny, say the sociologist Eva Illouz and the psychologist Edgar Cabanas in Happycracia: how science and the industry of happiness they control our lives (Paidòs). This "happiness industry" moves millions of euros and maintains that people can resist negative feelings to get the best game. Is it not, however, a form of control to convince us that success and failure, or health and illness, are our responsibility alone?
The proliferation of works written by figures such as Sheryl Sandberg, director of Facebook operations, with recipes for complicated moments, has created a new anxiety: Are we happy enough? Are we fighters enough? Or have we been wrong in everything and why we are not successful? What was the dissatisfaction and the self help or self-help and dissatisfaction?
"We live in a society that has replaced feelings for sensations Says the psychologist Marian Rojas. The emotions Strong are not happiness, but an instant gratification. " "Happiness does not come without some suffering, you have to know how to handle it," recalls psychologist Rafael Santandreu. Could it be that we do not want to pay that price? We reviewed five wrong ways to pursue happiness.
Does it really exist?
"This is a question asked by someone who does not know happiness," explains psychologist Rafael Santandreu, best-selling author such as The Art of Not Bitter Life (Grijalbo). People who live happily ensure that it is a state that survives important adversities. One is sad and at the same time has a feeling of fullness. Buddhists call it "happy." Happiness is "a general feeling of pleasure and vital meaning," explains Professor of Psychology and Israeli writer Tal Ben-Shahar. Therefore, a person may experience pain in a timely manner, but be happy globally. "
A head of happiness
Chief Happiness Officer or Happiness Consultant (something like head of happiness) is a figure that some companies have started to implement and whose mission is to Ensure that employees are happier: that they have better conciliation, greater job security or good health conditions in their position. Why, one in four Spanish employees says he is not happy, according to Adecco. The problem is serious, if we take into account that this dissatisfaction can cause a chronic stress higher than unemployment and affect productivity (welfare increases between 60% and 70% performance, according to data compiled by the Spanish business school IMF Business School). What are the functions of that happiness consultant? Listen to employees, so they feel valued and their needs are answered; keep good atmosphere; retain talent and encourage teamwork.
1. You are a perfectionist of feelings
- What is the problem ?: Sometimes, we prepare with care a moment -like a family party- and, instead of enjoying it, we spend time on everything that goes wrong. We want to be happy in a perfect way, but real life prevents us. There are people who tend to see everything that happens to them like that. Marino Pérez, Professor of Psychology at the University of Oviedo, calls it hyper-reflexivity: every time we focus more on ourselves and do not accept the normal ups and downs of life.
-What to do ?: "The absence of happiness has become dysfunctional," writes sociologist Eva Illouz. If we are happy, we have to be happy without nuances. We want everything to be a success. But why not admit that, sometimes, you do not feel as happy as you were supposed to be, that there is not an instruction manual for that, and that nothing happens? "We have canceled the ability of our brain to connect with the present moment, both with people and with the here and now," says psychologist Marian Rojas, author of How to make you pass good things (Espasa). We see each other from the outside, as if we were on a stage. We may be happier when we do not strive to be happy, and we simply enjoy the moment.
2. You are more aware of Instagram than of real life
-What is the problem?: On the internet, the only concern of the people is to appear happy, interesting, successful. For that they are exhibited in social networks. The problem is that many people confuse "seem" with "be". It is not strange that, reviewing our contacts, we feel excluded from that perfect happiness and we question everything. A study by the University of Pittsburgh (United States), 2016, showed that those who are staunch supporters of social networks are 2.7 more likely to suffer a depression.
-What to do?: Unwrap. Only then you can calibrate, really, what it is to be happy, because on the internet, nothing is ever enough, let alone "normal" happiness. "There must be a balance between four facets of our lives -expica Marian Rojas-: what I show that I am (my image), what I believe I am (the self-concept), the truth about myself and the e-image (the image of social networks). The founders of Facebook already knew that the network is addictive and that every like is like a spark of dopamine, a pleasure hormone that rises and then produces a withdrawal syndrome. "
The social networksThey also affect both those who see them and those who exhibit them. "The exhibition of one's life is a narcissistic attitude and it supposes an enormous pressure for the one who does it, because it has to maintain the bar always high ", assures Rafael Santandreu.
3. You are obsessed with being positive
-What is the problem ?: Sometimes, try see the good side of things is very difficult. Wanting to "positivize" at all times leaves real problems out of focus. And not always a "do not worry, everything will be fine" is timely, when a friend is having a bad time. It is better to work empathy. For Eva Illouz and Edgar Cabanas, personal development books sometimes impose a "Ideology of happiness" that can make us believe that everything is our fault, for not being "positive" enough. But we forget that the circumstances in which we find ourselves are part of the equation of our life. And sometimes they can be changed and sometimes not.
-What to do ?: The expression of anger or resentment are also part of life and help us change things. "Positive psychology it is not confined to smiling everyone, Marian Rojas explains, because then we think that in life everything depends on us and it is not like that. Send negative messages to the brain can make you sick, but if there is something toxic really is the guilt.
Being positive is essential, but you have to know how. "It's a concept that defends Buddhism, for example: one of the keys to inner well-being is not to complain and value what you do have Explains Rafael Santandreu. Outrage is always a mistake, because it is to think that any adversity is the end of the world. But our hyper-efficient mind makes us think that, if we do not live in a perfect environment, it is intolerable, and that is the opposite of happiness. It is not by chance that 30% of the population suffer from anxiety or depression. "
4. You read too many personal development books
-What is the problem ?: You are looking for a solution for your lack of selfesteem, but many self-help books They pose such a demanding change that they exacerbate your perfectionism and you sink more. Not to mention that many authors fill pages with all kinds of pseudoscientific theories that, in addition, can hurt you.
-What can you do ?: "There is an excess of misnamed self-help books, which they move away from the true advances of neuroscience"Explains Marian Rojas. "I would say that 95% of personal development books are bad and some harmful Says Santandreu. For example, those who state that, if you want something, you attract it by a kind of cosmic law. This is a superstitious and negative ideology, which leads to confusion and frustration. I advise to go to contents based on evidence and scientifically contrasted. " You know: more science and less mystery. Self-help books should make you think, discard instruction manuals. Better to read good literature.
5. You are unable to make a decision
-What is the problem ?: In a relationship, when accepting or not accepting an offer of work, buying a house or choosing a mattress for the bed: in multiple situations of daily life - from life, to dry- you have to make decisions. Once again, perfection does not exist. The opposite is to live in permanent anguish.
You will not be happier to hit the best kettle or choose your boyfriend as if he were in a catalog. If that happens to you, you have two problems: you reify people and you do not want to accept that to live is to choose and take responsibility for that choice.
-What can you do ?: "In our society there is, without a doubt, a obsession for perfection Marian Rojas points out. And the perfectionist, by definition, is the eternal dissatisfied, who never finds anything to live up to what he expects and the day is spent detecting failures in the environment, in your life, in the lives of your children. Happiness consists in accepting the right to error.
The self-imposed it makes us live constantly in alert mode, but the brain is not designed for it and gets sick. " "The problem of indecision starts from the idea that you need a lot to live and lose it is terrible, when, in reality, it takes very little to be happy"Explains Rafael Santandreu. "When you see this clear, then it is easy to choose an option, because you know that, whatever you decide, you can be happy. Having that security makes things simple. "