Friday, 15 April 2011

Oh joy!

Happy Days

So, not only I can go online to beat the blues.
No, this country is on the warpath and will do everything in its power to stop my amazement at its compulsive idiocy.
And mind you: coming from Italy, I can boast a extensive, over-decennal, hands-on experience in theoretical and applied idiocy.

So what to think of this article I read on the Guardian website the other day on the "Action for Happiness" movement?
Well, from the first initial reaction of "oh my, I can't believe I just waisted 5 minutes of my life reading that. I could have done something much more pleasant, such as ironing my clothes for example", I evolved into a "what a massive load of crap!!!" and I'm right now stationed at "Time to re-read Orwell's 1984 and get ready to apply for political asylum in Zimbabwe".

It's not because I'm unhappy right now and this Pollyanna do-gooders make me even more unhappy. No, no, even at the pick of my happiness, in the most elated, blessed conditions, I'd find things like this sickening and perverted.
Apparently now you can explain "happiness" with a scientific formula: some key ingredients et voilà, les jeux sont faits! Here is your happiness, or even better, THE happiness as it can be applied the same way to everybody.

We tick some boxes here and there, we do small act of kindness towards strangers so we can feel good about our being nice people, we engage in positive thinking and the world is an happier and better place to live.

Bullshit, pitiful, hopeless, stupid bullshit.

How "imposed" happiness can make feel people better? It will only make those feeling miserable even more so.

I commute every day in London and there is nothing true in the "sorry" and "we apologize for the inconvenience..." I hear every day, there is no feeling in the waiter asking me how's the dinner in a robotic tone of voice. So how is an unfelt "Good morning" going to make me feel any better? 

And do the promoter of this initiative truly believe that because they put down this action points people have to go through to be happy, happiness will spread around like a positive-vibe virus?

I went and check the website, as no matter what I already knew "in my bones", one always need to check at the source.

Man, if I weren't depressed already, I'd have immediately become so! The website states the 10 keys to happier living, the first one of them being "Take the Action for Happiness pledge". Now if only I remembered where I left Chairman Mao little red book, so that I can stick the pledge in it and wave them around in a dogmatic yet nonchalantly way.

You need to start your local "action for happiness" group, ça va sans dire. Failure to create the group will cause you neverending misery that not even the "mindfulness to bring into your life" might be able to swept away.

Am I too cinic? Yes, but that's because I live in the real world and I got a normal job. I'm not one of those highly paid PRs behind the campaign.
My life is not based about launch parties or seminar.
My life is plagued by the tube and its inhabitants (on 2 and 4 feet: wonder if the mammoth-rat I saw at Vauxhall today is happy), by the constant pushing, by the never ending chanting of "Free Standard! Free Evening Standard" and the smell of disgusting food.

How can I be happy when I walk into my local library and  realise it's falling into pieces and the chance of finding new books get closer and closer to zero at every new visit?
"Forcing" Britons to be more sociable (at least among themselves) is really going to make them feel better and less miserable?

Isn't looking for constant positive sides just another form of escapism, of hiding our heads into the sand, instead of facing real problems in life?

To feel less miserable in this town, I'd need at least:
1. Clean, not smelly, not overcrowded and over priced public transportation.
2. A NHS run by smart people, where I don't get told to "have paracetamol  and some rest" for any kind of symptoms I might have.
3. Fair taxation.
4. Fair housing prices.
5. Better salary.
6. A decent library nearby.

Would all these conditions make me happy? Probably not, but they would be the base to build my happiness upon.
I came to accept that the amount of Britons I'll ever befriend is very limited, and I feel quite privileged of knowing those whom I consider friend, as they truly are outstanding and remarkable. So I know that I have to "make-do" with that and that there is nothing, no workshop that can mutate the (lack of) social skills of (most of) the English.
However, I also know that nobody can be happy if worried about the money spent for basic necessities in life and if stressed by the poor quality of life, due to the lack of investement in society by the governments.

Find me anybody who's happy after realizing that there's no much money to save after you paid rent, bills, transport and food, as I'd really like to ask him/her the contact details of the pusher.

I can see why "Action for Happiness" is receiving so much buzz in the media: in times where cost are affecting each aspect of life, tax are on the increase and Mr. Cameron boasts about his idea of society, it is so much easier to create a fake sense of contentment in people, a feeling that might even be misjudged as happiness, rather than working and spending money not to promote a standard happiness, but to give each citizen the basis to go and get their own happiness. 

Instead of the long, difficoult and expensive way, the way that grant also more freedom to people to truly pursue their own happiness, we rather settle for the cheap, new-age, PR'ed and marketing focused way. Every little helps, I guess...

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