Monday, November 19, 2007

How to Feel Happier

The other day I saw an ad on the Web offering advice on "how to feel happier."

"How to feel happier."

I should have snapped a screen shot, but I didn't. Still, ads and stuff like that are common enough that everyone has probably seen it or one like it.

I won't make you pay for the answer though. To make yourself feel happier, take Prozac or two dry martinis.

Shall we get serious now?

But I WAS serious. That's how you alter feelings - with drugs or self-imposed delusions. That isn't honest. And since when is it mentally healthy to be dishonest with yourself?

This idea that we control our feelings and that they should be disconnected from stimuli that cause them is doing great damage in Western society. It is absurd and ridiculous.

It is self-evident that external stimuli cause our feelings. We can only lie to ourselves about our feelings: we can't change them.

This is as true of psychological feelings as it is of physical feelings. Those feelings are processed to produce emotions. Emotions motivate behavior, but they do not control it - not unless the rational mind cedes that function.

Emotions are not bad. Often, without strong emotion, we would not have the motivation to act, even though our rational mind sees that we should act. Hamlet, for example, was greatly tempted over time to just allow the murder of his father to pass. It was his strong emotions that kept him on task, though he never gave in to their fury, which tempted him to just murder Caludius and be done with it.

So, emotions are necessary. Without them we are paralyzed. Reason and emotion must work together (even fight with each other now and then) in the mind of a properly functioning human being.

What's more, the entire gambit of human emotions includes both negative and positive ones. If you take away the negative ones, what have you got? Is there any such thing as "happy" if you don't know what it is to be sad? Can you even FEEL happy unless you also know the feeling of being sad?

I'll tell you what the result of this idiocy is = total numbness.

This rot doesn't even pass a basic nonsense check.

It's fear-based, the product of a mentality that wants to insulate itself from the world so that nothing can make it feel bad, so that nothing bad can happen. It's an attempt to control your "little world" just like a narcissist tries to control hers - through authoring a work of fiction.

Plus, it's just another way to blame the victim for their feelings. They talk as though people just feel things out of the blue. They never breate a hint of blame for a feeling like unhappiness on hardship, abuse, abandonment, unfair play, war, illness, troubles in the home, or anything else. They always blame it on some imaginary inadequacy in the person feeling unhappy.

Maybe THEIR feelings are always phony put-ons like a narcissist's mask, but not everyone's are.

The people promulgating this junk are treating your unhappy feelings as the problem - not the real problem = whatever is causing those unhappy feelings. That's stupid. That approach precludes any solution to the real problem.

They treat your unhappy feelings as a weakness, a character flaw in you. Does that make sense?

According to them, you should correct this flaw. What does that mean? It means that the FLAW isn't in anyone causing your unhappiness. The FLAW is anyone made unhappy by their actions.

Right, the sin is in being unhappy, not in making others unhappy.

These scrambled-eggheads must have to keep half their brains shut down at all times to avoid a crash that takes the whole system down.

Look what they're saying. According to them, you are "responsible" for your feelings, so, in the middle of a war zone, you are to blame for being unhappy and you should therefore be a good boy or girl (so as not to rain on our day) by being "happy" instead.

And when professionals cash in on these memes, that really sucks.

They don't all do that though. When looking for a good one, look for one with a rational and sensible approach to feelings. One who never encourages you to repress them. One who will tell you that are times when you should get angry. One who helps you DEAL with them and GET THROUGH the pain.

Until you do that, you never will heal. Ironic, eh? By denying your real feelings, you never do heal so that you CAN be happy again. You just turn yourself into a numb zombie who acts "happy-happy-happy" all the time while feeling miserable deep down inside.

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At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thankyou for all the good articles and posts. my n has been putting in some pretty good performances. im anticipating some stellar ones with the holidays coming up and gatherings of friends and family. i bet he is envisioning roses being thrown up on stage and taking some deep bows. im going to need some reinforcement so i dont snap or throw up. jt

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comment-I too have had times I wanted to throw up. Especially the time he told me he stepped back so I could be in the limelight. Actually, I had more insight on the topic we were speaking on-and he good not answer the questions.


At 9:10 PM, Blogger sonicido said...

So true, so true.
Abuse is: "A disregard for the rights of another."
The first thing an N takes away, is the right to feel.

It might be driven by jealousy, since they can not feel themselves.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger sonicido said...

Oh, I forgot to make clear that, jealousy is not a feeling. Jealousy is a trait.

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more Kathy.

I hear my Mother's mantra now droning, "People can be mean to you yes, but your wellness is all in how you choose to react to it."

My common sense protestations usually result in an argument and her inevitable conclusion, "Are you right about everything all the time Kay?"

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My N grandpa was always telling me (and others) that we should not have felt this or that. I never bought it.

Once, I was 14 and the family went to the gardens. Suddenly a stick insect jumped on me and as a reflex, I screamed. My grandpa was disgusted and over reacted. I felt embarassed, which passed when I realised how stupid the situation was and I felt anger when no one else in the family had the sense to make a joke or a light comment or something of the sort.

I have always valued my feelings as feedback and I do not want to interfere with the way this works and I agree that one controls one's actions, not one's feelings.


At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

performance number one took place last night. he was almost appearing to be a normal person. and actually seemed to have some adequate manners and a modicum of sincerity- and dare i say charm ? the other people thought so enough. but i could still hear how so much of the conversation reverted back to him and some of his outdated experiences. ONCE he referred to me in one of his quips but it startled me cuz it seemed ill placed and soon realized he was unaware of me and was just trying to embellish his story. others thought he was "fine" but i could hear how hard he was trying- how awkward he sounded and how pathetic he was. i knew he was wearing himself out and sure enough- just like always- as soon as the audience was gone- he was in bed and is still worn out today. or actually- recharging for tonight's performance at thanksgiving dinner. i will be in thanksgiving for this site...jt

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After reading this blog topic yesterday and then going home to listen to music:

Where lies your heart?

It's not there in the buskin'? baby,
It's not there in the gin that makes you laugh long and loud,
You're a coward, James
You're running out on humanity,
You're running OUT on reality,
It won't be long before they rat-ta-tat you down!,

from "James and the cold gun" Kate Bush.


At 9:23 AM, Blogger Stormchild said...

This 'happy-face' disease seems to come from the same source as the pressure put on targets to forgive their abusers unilaterally and unconditionally - and instantaneously. Which you have blogged about recently and eloquently.

The false argument made to support happy-face nonsense is just like the phony justification for premature forgiveness - that it will be so much better for the poor target if they just stop being so bitter about everything. Bitter, in this case [perhaps in most cases] actually = aware.

The true objective, however, in both cases, is to make things easier for everyone but the target, at the target's continuing expense, by forcing the target to swallow abuse unprotestingly, paper it over with phony reconciliation, and thus remove any demands for action or qualms of conscience on the part of onlookers. Again, you've addressed this recently - but it bears repeating; it's a huge, and seemingly deliberate, blind spot in contemporary culture.

As you have pointed out, the phenomenon is incredibly vicious when you look at it clearly enough, deeply enough. Those who are abused are expected to accept abuse not only from their primary abuser, but from everyone else within range, to preserve the status quo and save everyone else having to actually do anything about it.

Tag, you're It -- for the rest of your life -- and it's all your fault. You were there, breathing, when we needed a target. And it's all your fault that you aren't willing or able to accommodate to such savagery. That's your job. We want it to be. What you want, regarding your own life, is completely irrelevant.

Thank you, Kathy, for all you have done and are doing to bring this evil into the light.


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