Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

If you're happy and you know it

At the beginning of January while most people are making fervent fitness resolutions (which range from joining a gym to idly watching a fitness DVD of someone who used to be on Coronation Street) I find myself in a transient state. Unable to change for the better until I've turned one year older. For I never officially make a new start until after my birthday, which conveniently for me falls during the last week of the month. This is because undoubtedly any promises I make to myself will come undone during the celebrations and will probably do so all at once. Now that the birthday fire has burned out and nothing but a handful of pitiful embers remain, I am free to embark on 2014 with a fresh perspective. And I'd like to feel better about myself in the coming year, wouldn't we all?

So in order to start 2014 as I mean to go on i.e. making everyone feel better about themselves, I have decided to warn you about an ominous website. A website which will slowly drain your soul of light and radiance and replace it with an empty tin of Heinz tomato soup. (If you look up Heinz tomato soup in the dictionary you won't find a definition, but fortunately I am on hand to tell you that it is soulless).

"Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?"
Such happiness, so Stepford

I encountered the sinister website 100HappyDays, as one often does these days through a Twitter hashtag, having originally clicked because I thought what a funny satirical joke it was. However a few minutes of incredulous scrowling* later, I discovered that it is in fact an initiative instructing people to upload a daily photograph conveying what they consider to be personal happiness.

So very obviously not a joke.

In the words of the wonderfully clinical and pragmatic Mycroft Holmes, "This is a matter of national importance. Grow up!" Out of all the wide ranging and character arcing emotions which we experience as fickle human beings throughout our daily lives, happiness is the most boring.Yes it is immensely satisfying to be content, but it's completely unnecessary to explain to other people why you are happy because you will inevitably be accused of gloating and you probably are. Besides isn't posting a positive spin on our lives through a social media platform what we do all-day every-day anyway? Happiness overload!

But lets seriously consider this for a moment. Does spending several agonised minutes uploading a photo of "the very tasty cake in the nearby coffee place" to Instagram (once you've ensured the appropriate filter portrays it in the best light and the hashtags are sufficiently optimised) equate to true happiness? Now, taking a screen shot of the reverence your photograph receives from your followers is surely a more accurate reflection of what makes you happy. A nice itemised list of happiness. Because that's what it's really all about:: validation. We're just not happy until other people know about it. Plus, not everyone experiences happiness in a robotic Stepford Wife fashion as 100HappyDays would have you believe. Personal joy isn't always clean-cut good family fun. Who decides what the criteria is for personal joy and fulfillment?

But then again who cares? Frankly the assumption that anyone will find the banality of what you consider to be happiness at all interesting is insulting. I understand that in your dream scenario you envision your legions of fictitious life-spectators to engage with you encouragingly and in turn be happy for you. Unfortunately no one experiences happiness when other people are happy. In the real world people roll their eyes and glower at the screen while a tidal wave of self-loathing fills the room and bursts through the window into the street, taking everyone and everything with them into a swirling abyss of hateful despair.

But I digress, I just don't like initiatives. They're usually the precursor to a sect which results in its members committing mass suicide and the website is worded frighteningly so. "People successfully completing the challenge claimed to start receiving more compliments from other people and fall in love during the challenge." By taking photos of cakes which you haven't eaten or paid for? I don't think so. Actually people receive compliments and fall in love simply by embracing all of their emotions and living their lives.

Otherwise known as "real life"

The longer you spend reading 100HappyDays the less you will notice the residual numbness which will inevitably engulf you. The childish nonchalance of the font subdues you and the blinding yellow hue is probably supposed to be reminiscent of butter or gold or sunlight and other inherently nice things which we associate with the colour. It's best to scan it quickly and immediately click the x button, lest you should yield to sharing the forced experience of an everyday commonplace emotion with people you don't particularly like or even know.

In order to feel good about your life you need to remember that you're perfectly able to be happy without this website or anyone else knowing about it. But only if you allow yourself to be. After all, happiness depends upon ourselves.

*Scrowling, verb "To scroll through a web page while scowling."