It May Be Time to Rethink Self-Discovery Happiness
By Sandy Schroeder
In a world that seems to be filled with hordes of self-actualizing individuals, it is not surprising that happiness is being sold as a do-it-yourself project best done from the inside out.
Instead of being a meaningful way to reach out to others to connect and reconnect, the prevailing attitude seems to suggest getting your own mindfulness meditation kit and hanging out on your phone or your computer nonstop.
Looking at Real Life
In real life, I think most of us manage to break out of that box, heading out for brews with friends on Friday night or spending the weekend enjoying movies, suppers, and ice cream with our kids and assorted friends and neighbors.
Ruth Whippman explores this do-it-yourself journey in a recent article in the New York Times. She said, “This is happiness framed as a journey of self-discovery, rather than the natural byproduct of engaging with the world; a happiness that stresses emotional independence rather than interdependence.”
Whippman says this isolationist focus can lead to each person being locked into their own private emotional experiences, as meditation or yoga classes replace church gatherings and morning worship. Americans annually spend over $1 billion on self-help books and almost half of all meals are eaten alone.
Recent Bureau of Labor figures indicate Americans spend less than four minutes per day staging or attending social events. That works out to be about 24 hours total for the whole year, barely enough time to enjoy a turkey dinner, celebrate a few birthdays, and toast the New Year.
Let’s Reverse the Flow
We may all have to do our part to counter this isolationist wave. See what you can do to reverse the flow. Take time to stop and talk with people at work, have coffee with friends or invite people over for dinner. Then add more connections, attending concerts or art exhibits, joining special interest groups, or taking evening classes. Make the effort to reach out wherever you go, moving from online to face-to-face connections.
It is hard to put a dollar value on the warmth of someone’s smile, or the deep feeling of reassurance that comes when friends show up to help you move or solve an unexpected problem. That’s happiness in real time.
Those connections need to be firmly rooted and continually maintained to remind us of what happiness really is.
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