Anybody else tired of seeing this utter tripe go around on social media?
This might pass for pithy wisdom about life and the mind, but to me, it teaches at least 3 very wrong and dangerous ideas about happiness and emotion in general. Here are my arguments against each one:
1: Happiness is temporary, like every emotion. It is not meant to be a permanent condition, only a fleeting feeling, so one cannot maintain it. This image shames people for being unable to remain in a state of happiness/positivity, but that just isn’t psychologically feasible or even possible. Nor is it healthy to keep chasing happiness at the expense of all else. Sometimes you will be sad, angry, afraid, etc., and the sooner you can accept those emotions as part of the human experience, the sooner you can let them pass. Trying to be happy/positive all the time is like trying to control the weather to have only sunny days –it’s not gonna happen AND it’s not good for us in the long term.
2: Emotion is not something we can actually control with our thoughts. You can have all the good intent in the world when you wake up, and you still won’t be able to control your emotions like this image states you should. The truth is, emotions are affected by illness, injury, allergies, stressors from family and/or work, sleep quality, the dreams you had last night, and a lot of other factors which you can’t truly control. This fallacy is dangerous because it suggests that feeling negative emotions is a character flaw and a choice, when it is most certainly not.
3: Shame, guilt, fear, and blame are not healthy motivators for change. The arrogant, judgmental tone in this image is what really gets my goat–it uses these four negative emotions to get across a point about waking up positive! How much sense does that make? We are highly motivated by these things, which is why so many teachers and writers use them, but this mentality of “you choose to be wrong, so you should be ashamed” ultimately blights our mindsets and stunts our emotional growth. A much healthier motivator set is acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, and respect–all of which this image is sorely lacking.
Let’s not poison our 2019 with teachings that dump emotional garbage on us like this. Let’s instead think critically about what we see and share, really dig into what others say we should believe. Who knows, it could change our lives and our minds for the better.
P.S. For more on happiness and emotions in general, check out The Happiness Trap–I’m enjoying my read-through thus far, and it’s helped me a lot!