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Self-Help? Happiness? When You’re Ready.

Most of us have had moments that bring us pure joy. Falling in love with the right person is like that. Marriage is like that. So is becoming a parent of a child or a fur baby. You are full of joy. But sometimes, the change is not favourable. We’ve all been through that as well. People pass away. People leave us. Tragedy strikes. As much as the good things are joyful, these bad things are painful. 

Three ideas about emotion.

I was listening to a podcast the other day. Mo Gawdat, a former bigwig at google, was talking about how all the success he achieved had not made him happy. He has a few books out. One, The Happiness Equation is one I think I will read. One of the central messages in this book is that we choose to be happy. If you listen to Gawdat, he is pretty vehement about this, actually. He has a goal to make millions of people happy.

And I was also thinking about a wee meme that has been circulating around regarding the Irish language. In the Irish, when you are sad, you say: “Ta bron orm”. Which, translated, means the sadness is on me, or the sadness is upon me. I know this now, see, because I have been learning the Irish on Duolingo for a while now. 

These ideas are almost opposites. For Gawdat, there is an assertion that you can control your happiness. In the Gaelic, there is the idea that the emotion is bigger than your ability to stop it. Emotion is something that must be experienced. 

And I have been thinking about the “it’s all good” crowd. I kinda live in that space sometimes, so I am (a bit) talking about myself here. In truth, it’s not all good. Anyone who has suffered a massive setback of any kind will tell you that. We will say that, in the end, you emerge from your tough times much changed. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes not. Some people never emerge. They stay locked in their pain. 

Self-help books ignore this point because their market is the subset of people ready to and trying to better their lives. Indeed, in that subset, people are prepared for a journey out of their pain or heartache. But what if you don’t even know you’re broken? Or what if you don’t care?

The reality of emotion.

Emotion grabs you and smothers you or knocks you off your feet. It is inescapable, like that unbidden scream that comes out of you on a roller coaster. There’s stuff that you can’t stop. If we are overwhelmed by grief or sadness, that is not our responsibility, as it were. We don’t control this. 

Happy is defined as “feeling or showing pleasure or contentment”, but people who show pleasure or contentment can be notoriously unhappy in private. They, despite a strong external of fun, struggle with profound sadness. Robin Williams comes to mind immediately. 

Is happiness the real goal?

So, I often wonder: is happiness a real goal? Is it an accurate measure of who we are?

I would liken using happiness as a marker for emotional health/wholeness to using the stock market to decide whether the economy is doing well. When the stock market is up, things are ticking along but only for the people who can play. What about people who can’t buy stocks? What about people who, for whatever reason, can’t get to happy.

I think that it is true that you can choose to be happy in a moment, but I also feel like it’s a lot of pressure to dump on people who struggle with depression, for example. I mean, what the fuck. That was me not too long ago. Leave those people alone. They don’t have to be happy because you need them to be happy. 

So, what is a reliable measure of an emotionally healthy human? Equilibrium? Consistency? Effectiveness? The ability to cope? These make life sound a little grey like we’re all living in a corporation where we need to be productive to matter.

For me.

I want to do all the things. I want to feel all the emotions. I would love to live in a society where it’s super okay to tell people that the sadness is upon you. Or to sit in peaceful contentment. Or to say to your friends you love them. 

So. What, then? What about this idea of happiness? Is happiness really what we seek? 

I believe that we seek to discover and be our most authentic selves. Brene Brown would probably agree. I also think that the massive self-help industry may not be able to tell you who you are or who you are meant to be. 

And, honestly, changing your life and yourself may not be where you are. This truth has to be okay. 

Thanks for reading! If you want to help me out, go ahead and click on an ad on this page. It makes me an incremental amount of money which will encourage me to continue. 

Jacqui Burke is a storyteller who writes and who also directs theatre. Jacqui has been telling stories for almost all her life (if you count the bedtime stories when her child was wee).

Jacqui is also very geeky and loves the puzzle of SEO. She offers SEO optimization and blogging services.

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Google Reviews

  • 5 star review  Jaybird Social Media is an excellent resource for social media needs. Jacqui is incredibly knowledgeable and skilled and won’t just tell you what needs to be done but demonstrate clearly through her work the benefits of what needs to be done. She walked us through exactly what is important, why a business should do certain things in social media, and the results one can expect from specific actions. When you’re looking to get your business online and make yourself visible, it’s important to pick somebody who you can trust. After all, every business is your own pride and joy, and it’s important to know that your investments into your own business are worthwhile. Working with Jaybird Social Media was a joy and the results show. Thank you!

    thumb Purple Squirrels
    February 11, 2015
  • 5 star review  I approached Jacqui to design a campaign website for me as I seek re-election as a Trustee for the TDSB. From our first meeting, I knew I had made the right choice. Jacqui had done her research and came equipped with a variety of suggestions to enhance my campaign both with the website and other aspects of the process. During the design of the website, my campaign team and I suggested changes long after Jacqui had done the initial layout. I delayed the date for going live on several occasions. No problem! She responded to all suggestions positively and made them work, no matter how far-fetched. Her rates were reasonable and very much worth the money spent. I have already linked Jacqui up with another candidate and will continue to recommend Jaybird Social Media in the future. Jerry Chadwick

    thumb Jerry Chadwick
    February 11, 2015
  • 5 star review  Jaybird Social Media provided excellent knowledge transfer when I needed some advice with online marketing. Jacqui evaluated the specific needs for my small artisan business and pointed me in the direction I need to be going. I felt like she understood my business and the whys and wherefores of social media and marketing and highly recommend Jaybird’s services.

    thumb Lynn Wyminga
    February 11, 2015
  • 5 star review  Good

    thumb Chas Ellis
    February 11, 2020
  • 5 star review  Music TORONTO has enjoyed working with Jacqui and Jaybird Social Media. Her professionalism and quick turnaround time make it a pleasure to work with her on projects like app development and movie screen ads!

    thumb Heather Lacey
    February 11, 2016
  • 5 star review  Jacqui and Jaybird Social Media have be awesome to work with and instrumental in the successful orchestration of our social media campaign. They have made a huge difference. I highly recommend them.

    thumb Gregory Neely
    February 11, 2016
  • 5 star review  Whoa! If this is what Jacqui offers in a free one hour consult, I can’t imagine the riches of her paid service. Jacqui shared so much of her knowledge in that small space of time, most of which was applicable and relevant. Thanks so much Jacqui.

    thumb P3 Midwifery
    February 11, 2019
  • 5 star review  Jacqui’s skills as a graphic artist, a web designed and social media expert are solid. I use her for press releases, for social media campaigns, for graphic design and web design and I have nothing but good things to say. I can highly recommend her to you for your part or full time business. And please pay close attention to the need for your site to be mobile friendly, as once Jacqui made the adjustment to my site the number of unique (first time) visitors to those who became serious prospects for my service nearly doubled!

    thumb Eskimo Pete
    February 11, 2019

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