We’ve all been there before: standing in the stationery store surrounded by pretty colours, oohing and ahhing at the swirly patterns and rose gold embellishments, when suddenly an overly cheerful affirmation printed in giant cursive screams the message “Be Happy!”. You see it and wince, finding yourself feeling vaguely affronted for reasons you can’t quite pin down.
I know I’m not alone in cringing; the exasperation people are beginning to feel with such orders is not unique to my own cynicism, as the popularity of Sarah Knight’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k” demonstrates. Yet there are many hardcore believers who continue to offer well-intentioned advice to the tune of “just choose happiness!”
These affirmations spring from the positive psychology movement which has been a trend of the past decade. Its influence is felt everywhere from the workplace to our home décor. I’m here to tell you that it has to stop.
For those of you gritting your teeth and telling yourself “just be happy” and finding it ineffective, this is for you. Breathe in, breathe out, and read on. As for all those well-intentioned people who offer up these tidbits of advice, I’d like to offer you an alternative which will probably serve the very people you’re trying to help far more effectively.