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.