Have you ever wondered why you can’t be happy?
There are many people who struggle with this problem, but few who seek help or even acknowledge the obstacle because of how society perceives the concept of happiness. In a lot of today’s pop culture psychology (for lack of a better term) you often see a lot of mantras thrown around like “happiness is a choice”. You see also see those boasting proudly how they were helped and have helped others through the power of “positive thinking”. It’s easy then for those of us who struggle to come to terms with our own emotions and how they influence us to be even further discouraged by the throwing around of these popular catchphrases like “Fake it till you make it”.
It’s as if we’re being told that if we just think happy we will be happy, and if not, well then something must be wrong with you. You’re clearly making the choice to be unhappy, so all of this is your fault and you need to get over it.
If only it we’re that simple.
I see this all the time in my line of work and it tends to create an extra layer of resistance to therapy and the concepts it offers in managing our thoughts and emotions. It also makes us more resistant to the idea of therapy because theoretically we should be able to fix ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the benefits of changing the way we think about things and approach problems. It’s actually kind of part of my job to help patients think about things differently and view the world in a more positive light. I can certainly see where this seemingly “simple wisdom” could lead to a more positive attitude towards these kind of methods. It may open people up to say, “Hey, that sounds pretty easy, I’ll give it a try”
The studies, however, seem to show the opposite. If someone is already trapped in a line of negative thinking, they tend to only pile on that negativity because they become skeptical to the methods that could help them overcome. This leads to a sort of vicious cycle that creates kind of a self-perpetuating problem.
Perhaps a solution to this would be to provide a fuller picture in our approach to life’s problem. Something that encourages us to adjust our thinking patterns but also offers realistic approaches, steps, and techniques that go along with that. That, however, is another post for another time.
It’s easy of course to identify problems, but much harder to find real solutions.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.