26 Sep We can do so much better than this
I sometimes ask friends and others if they think people in general are happy. The answers differ, but surprisingly many say yes to that question. My impression is that people in general are not happy. This is of course my subjective opinion, and it may sound negative. But that picture has emerged while I myself have become happier, unlike in the past when I was stuck in the rat race, stressed out and felt life somewhat lacked meaning. However, I was good at covering this up with well behaved smiles, small talk like “spring is on its way – then it will be better” or that “it is busy at work now, but I learn a lot.” This can annoy me, people convincing themselves that everything is ok, even though deep down we know we are not as happy as we once were. Happiness (see dictionary) is perhaps not the best word, we have very different picture of what it means. What I mean is: OK that life is not only a party, but we could all be so much more free, true, peaceful and joyous than people in general are!
It can be quite humorous to go downtown and look at how people behave. A girl passes and looking intently into the distance ahead of her, as if the world’s most important person was right there. An older man scratching his neck, while instantly looking the other way after meeting your gaze. Or the most common when someone is uncomfortable; pick up the phone and fiddle around among all the terribly important things happening there. Have you ever seen this in the streets?
It’s like we’re afraid of each other. We want closeness and friends, but as long as someone is a stranger, we unconsciously expect they could have bad intentions. Why else would we not want to meet each other’s gaze?
Also in private settings, anyone looking a bit closer can see how stiff and artificial some are. Children are open and ask straight out “Will you play with me?” A most legitimate and straightforward question, but what adult dare be so straight. It might be a fun challenge! Who cares?
Instead, we prefer to go into jargon about subjects that feels comfortable for everyone, i.e. matters that do not really touch you. It could be the stock market, renovations of apartments, celebrity gossip, job talk, baby strollers, what you did last weekend or where to go on holiday. Not that there’s anything wrong with these subjects as such, they have their place. But they are often used because we are not comfortable talking about deeper personal things and then the small talk function as defense mechanisms. We laugh politely at a lot of stuff, but is the laughter heartfelt? Is it really a bubbling joy that is felt throughout the body, like it was when we were children and like we may still feel occasionally with our best friend? A polite smile is, as I see it, nothing more than a defense mechanism, it is not genuine. Why do we defend ourselves? It is as if everyone expects the “Big Bad Wolf” to attack at any second.
“It aint that bad”, I hear someone say. Sure, we all drive on the right side of the road and normally do not kill each other. Our society is civilized. But if we look at the increasing rates of depression, burnout, shoppoholics, allergies, people with eating disorders, sleep disorders, ADHD and other letter combinations, it seems that something is not right. According to Statistics Sweden, mental illness has never been greater than now and it is worst among children and adolescents, it is thrice worse than in the 80s. There is no lack of people who think they have the best medicine. Vote for my party, follow this dieting method, buy a new car, enact more laws, forbid this and that. Yet it does not seem to help.
I do not pretend that I have all the answers, but my own inner journey and spiritual teachers I have met have given me some insights. We are all more or less hurt from our childhood, although we are not aware of all of it. This has made us lightly or more heavily neurotic. The society wants to force us into a template where we become normal, but few of us remember how it feels to be natural. Natural as we were when we were kids. Since I am the son of two politicians, I have an inborn interest for societal questions. The society consists of human beings and in this blog I am eager to tell you about methods I have learned to become freer, more natural and feel better. So we can be more affectionate towards our friends and create a society where people dare to meet for real. For those of you who are also interested in social issues, I have written a longer publication, “The disease in the human psyche and its Symptoms Society”, which you can read under Subject – Society.