There is a disease in our culture that is going unnoticed. We have put our focus on curing the symptoms of the disease without recognizing the root of the problem.
The disease too many people in our society suffer from is unhappiness. We have become so far removed from what true happiness looks like that we have started to believe that, being happy actually looks like unhappiness. That’s what everyone else looks like, so we should too.
And we perpetuate it within ourselves, within our inner circles and with our children. The education system focuses on achievement as the key to happiness. Society focuses on wealth as the key to happiness.
Last weekend, I watched the documentary I Am on Netflix, and it raised a very interesting point. There is an assumption that somehow if you have two million dollars you’ll be twice as happy as you were when you had one million. But interestingly enough, more wealth doesn’t create more happiness. More success doesn’t create more happiness. More achievement doesn’t create more happiness.
Yet these are the tenets our society thinks most important.
We are living in a world where the majority of people have chosen attainment of achievement, success and wealth over their happiness. And we are miserable. And we are raising our children to be miserable too.
We think that stress, cancer, depression, anxiety and all the other ailments our society suffers are the diseases that need cures. I would argue that unhappiness is what we need to cure, and our ailments are merely symptoms.
An article on the Cancer Center website promoting laughter therapy for cancer patients states, “After years of prolonged pain from a serious illness, [Norman] Cousins claims to have cured himself with a self-invented regimen of laughter and vitamins.”
Laughter is a start, but it isn’t the cure. The cure is love.
Unfortunately, many in our society do not know how to truly give or receive love without expectations, without stories and without attachment. Love has become an abstract concept of a utopian society, rather than a real and attainable goal.
When I embarked on the journey to happiness, I started with alignment. I focused on finding things that I gave a “hell yes” to and said no to everything else. Everything else. With no excuses and no explanations. It was difficult for some people to understand why I wouldn’t do something I wasn’t inspired to do that I “should” do based on what society expected from me. But eventually it started to catch on. Others in my circle started doing the same as they watched me get happier and happier. An interesting thing started to happen; as I focused on following my joy, it opened me up to giving and receiving love.
I felt immense levels of gratitude for all of the experiences I was creating in my life. And then the love started flowing. I fell in love with everything about myself. My body. My story. My trauma. My pain. My femininity.
That’s when I truly discovered who I am.
I was none of the things I thought I was. I wasn’t a marketer. I wasn’t a mother. I wasn’t a sister or daughter. I wasn’t a corporate executive. I wasn’t white. I wasn’t any of the labels society had ascribed to me.
I am the embodiment of love.
I opened myself to fully giving and receiving love from and for everything around me. I started truly appreciating the majesty in the sky, the sunrise and the sunset. I showered the people around me with love and compassion, despite any past history of turmoil.
And I noticed something: Love is contagious.
I noticed everyone around me opening to receive the love I was giving them in authentic and vulnerable ways. I noticed that the more love they received, the more love they gave.
As I began to embody love, my experiences became so full of love it felt like I might explode into particle dust. I wondered if this much happiness—this much love—in one person’s life was sustainable. Based on what society tells us, it certainly didn’t seem possible. But I’m finding there is no limit to the amount of love I can give or receive. Unhappiness has become a distant memory.
Happiness is my new reality; love is my new drug of choice.
And it feels amazing. I want everyone in the world to experience this level of happiness, because I know if they did our world would be a very different place. A world without wars. Without hate. Without misery. If we could all move from love we simply couldn’t watch our fellow human beings suffer while we drove home to our mansion in our new Mercedes.
Tom Shadyac is right; we have bred a society that takes more than it needs and stands by while the weak, the sick and the elderly suffer. And it is all for naught. We aren’t any happier.
Unhappiness is our disease, and love is the only cure.
Love yourself. Love your fellow human being. Teach your children to follow their joy and to spread love into the world. Then we might have a chance at a world were happiness is the new normal. Imagine the power in that.
Author: Nichole Kelly
Editor: Toby Israel
Photo: Chareze Stamatelaky/Flickr