Under the influence

Aren’t there a lot of people out there (here?) donating free advice on how to be happy/successful/lovable to the rest of us poor miserable sods who don’t know how to put one foot in front of the other without help? If I read one more time, the important thing is to just be yourself, I swear I’ll slap someone. Who did Goebbels think he was being then, if not himself? Or Idi Amin?

There are people who are making it their business to persuade others that happiness is a commodity that we can all acquire by sheer bloody perseverance, by smiling at strangers, wishing them a nice day, not swearing, and most important of all, by not having any problems. It goes without saying, you have to ignore everything unpleasant around you, like dirty people, abandoned pets, wars.

Essentially, it’s all about you, the unique and wonderful you. The uniquely wonderful being that is you could be happy walking through the ruins of Oms because you could give a biscuit to a starving kid. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful gesture? And you could get that warm, fuzzy feeling of self-satisfaction seeing their little starving faces light up with happiness.

And it’s all about beauty. If you can’t be twenty, rich, with the body of a super model, you can still have a beautiful mind. Which means suck up your mediocre looks, physique and bank balance and smile at people.

The basic message from all these helpful people is that to be happy, you have to ignore the other bitches. Just be yourself, and only you know what that means. Sorry, you have to help yourself just a bit here. Just make sure that yourself conforms to the young, beautiful, trouble-free, financially secure segment.

Happiness is shopping, beauty, skin care products, exotic spots to take selfies, a healthy diet and regular workouts in the gym, but failing the body beautiful, you can still think nice thoughts, or have nice hair, or something. Happiness is that glow inside when you’re okay though the rest of the world is wallowing in misery, and it means that you have learned to love yourself.

And what if happiness wasn’t about you at all? What if happiness was about contributing to something in the course of your life that made a difference to everybody’s well-being, about being part of a cause, speaking up, taking action?

Just a suggestion. I’m not an influencer. I don’t have any skin care tips or advice on shopping or where to go next when you’ve taken your selfie outside the Taj Mahal. Maybe I just don’t know how to enjoy myself. And if learning to love myself means giving myself a big hug of commiseration for falling so far short of what I ought to be instead of a kick up the backside, then I’m afraid I fail on that count too.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

47 thoughts on “Under the influence”

  1. I saw somebody swimming in Lake Bled with a selfie stick yesterday 🤦🏽‍♀️ I have been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to love myself recently, and it’s brought me to wonder if the only valuable lesson I will have to teach my children is how not to be afraid. Because I don’t know how their future will look and I don’t know how much I can do about it.

    1. I’ve never really understood what loving yourself means. It seems to me that by wondering what you can do for your children, how you can help and what you can pass on, is expanding your caring to those around you, not wrapping it around yourself.

      1. Ah, realising why you dislike yourself and doing something about it is positive and helpful and honest. This blanket injunction to just love yourself however bloody awful you are is just complacent.

      2. Haha! Yes I agree. I’ve found that by loving myself more I’m more able to give love to others. But I do hate it when people just think they’re great for no good reason!

      1. She dresses up in a very flattering green outfit with boots and a broad-brimmed hat and in some scenes she has a bow and arrows, in others a big rifle. She just poses, there’s no blood, no animals shown at all just this simpering twit saying how much she likes to go hunting. The hunters are feeling the pressure. They have found some very wealthy patrons and they’re lashing out on propaganda. I hope it’s a good sign.

      2. The anti-hunting campaigners should go speak to her. Educate her. Shame her into pulling out if need be. Shame the hunters for using such cheap methods to promote murder.

      3. They’d have a better chance if they made her a better offer. The hunt lobby has suddenly got a lot of money to throw around.
        She might be shamed into pulling out if her followers left because of it. We’ll see what happens.
        This btw is what the pres of the hunting association looks like. A fine figure of a man, don’t you think?

  2. This is a lovely write. It was timely, as the idea that happiness is a commodity or an idea that can be sold out out like a platinum album over and over again is mysteriously prevalent in today’s world. How we got here is another mystery. But one only needs find happiness in little things and big things and in one’s self. One’s self! That’s the cliché of happiness. It’s requirement is that for a balance is struck one is not happy at the expense of humanity or any individual.

    1. Navel-gazing in general is what everybody is doing. Everything comes down to me me me. My rights, my fun, who cares who or what suffers to provide my fun. And it’s all so shallow. How can anyone be happy with a face cream that is the result of torturing hundreds of animals?

      1. I think the people who insist on their right to have cheap clothes whoever makes them, cheap meat even if it’s produced in appalling conditions, junk food made using palm oil produced in deforested rainforest, to travel everywhere whatever the cost to the environment would consider they were perfectly mainstream not extremist.

  3. I might be falling apart at the seams and on a very long waiting list, having to shelter from bloody Covid, but I love my imperfect family and they love the imperfect me! I think that a win win 💜💜

  4. Glad to say I like the person I am. It took me long enough to get there! |
    Years ago I was stopped in the street and asked if I could be anyone in the world, who would I be. I said myself. That flummoxed them, but not to be deterred, they then asked if I could have any job in the world, what would it be, and I said the one I was doing (because I truly loved and enjoyed it). They couldn’t sell me their books on improving myself, and months later there was a huge article about it as it was a con about selling self improvement products but only after they had stripped you of not only your money, but any confidence you had.

    1. People just don’t think for themselves. We seem to have gone from feudalism where everyone knew their place and got hanged if they stepped outside it, to a world where we have all the freedoms and just abuse them without a clue what we’re doing or whether we ought to be doing it. We ask twits on instagram how we ought to dress, what we ought to think, how we ought to bring up baby. If human beings have such highly developed brains we make a good job of hiding it.

      1. Love your last sentence Jane. It’s so very true.Hubby and I been doing our own thing for years now, and gave up living our lives for other people or trying to be what THEY expected.

  5. I too am tired of the self-centeredness of it all. You “deserve” this or that. Indulge yourself. Compete with everyone else to be the most, have the most, the best.
    It’s a fools game that can never be won.

    Also the idea that if we are just nicer and more optimistic we will solve the world’s problems is ludicrous. I’m not against kindness but it’s not going to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, or put out any fires. (K)

  6. I fully agree, Jane! Once you have finally managed to take people’s self-confidence, you can convey a suitable awareness to them. 😉 I thank God – or whoever – that I was allowed to spend a few years among Catholic clergy. Even among those who practiced this method in vain for me. Because they had problems with their own self-esteem. Sometimes the methodology of the Catholic Church reminds me of a sword that blunts itself. The longer they do this, the more “unfinished” people want to influence others. Towards the end only that “incomplete” comes out. Not particularly dangerous anymore. 😉 Michael

    1. The problem with influencers is that they are bursting with self-confidence. They seem not to question themselves at all. It has to be said that they are often selling something either directly or insidiously with advertising revenue.
      The Catholic Church is losing its grip because instead of relying on force to keep people in the churches it’s trying to encourage them. And I’m afraid they need a more up to date advertising campaign.

    1. But how can anyone be happy, find inner peace knowing that they are okay when they also know that millions of people and billions of animals aren’t, that the planet has reached the point of no return, and nobody is doing much about it?
      If happiness means having nothing to worry about, then no human being should be/can be happy.

  7. In my opinion, Happiness is when you feel fulfilled after fulfilling someone else’s needs. If that is what you strive for, you are the happiest person in the world.

    1. I’d agree up to a point. I think it has to be reciprocal. I’m thinking of people who devote themselves to a partner or a parent with dementia or a child with severe handicap. Caring and ensuring that the dependent person is happy can destroy their lives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s