As a life coach and consultant, I spend a great deal of time reading content over the internet. The purposes are to learn new concepts, understand differing views, and expand my overall range of knowledge.
This week a post on Medium was brought to my attention that raised a good amount of concern in my mind. The post in question, titled “Hey Internet, Stop Trying to Inspire Me” can be found here.
Why This Post Caught My Attention
Of course, given what I spend my time doing these days, I love inspirational content. Even as a life coach, I am still a work in progress. Continuous improvement, being better each day than I was the day before, and personal growth is a neverending objective.
As a client of mine, I presume you would expect no less.
It was shocking to me to see how negatively the author reacts to inspirational content. Her biggest complaint was that no one could live up to the vision of “happiness,” and knowing she wasn’t there when reading all of these posts made her feel guilty! Guilty I said!
One example from early in the post that immediately set off red flags for me:
There’s a lot of stuff out there which attempts to make you feel inspired, but ends up leaving you feeling ashamed for being human.
As you might guess, I was not expecting that angle when I opened up the post to read it. But wait, it gets better – she even went so far as to say being happy is the antithesis to…living!
I wish people would stop trying to perfect my life. Everybody is selling the magic pill to happiness. Why do I have to be so happy all the time? CAN I LIVE?
So to the author, problems are best solved with sex, drugs, and rock and roll according to the following excerpt:
Sometimes it’s okay to be bored and to think that happiness is a bit boring because it kind of is. Sometimes it’s fine to be moody and sad and contemplative and to solve problems with a glass of wine or a pizza or some good sex I don’t even know but it’s okay to just not have it all figured out, to have no answers, to just be like, what is the point of anything.
Happiness is boring? Maybe if you aren’t happy and want to justify it. Solve problems with pizza and sex? Really? Happiness comes from fleeting pleasures?
And if that weren’t enough, we have this gem:
Happiness is as fleeting as anything else. These fake salespeople who act like they have the cure to being human really grind me up. All they serve to do is make you feel ashamed for not having it all figured out. They sell your aspirational experience and bake shame into it.
First, she makes a good point – everything is fleeting. Yes, everything is temporary. But the “fake salespeople” and “shame” parts? Wow, what a sad way to look at the world.
The rest of the post was all “shame, shame, shame” and that we shouldn’t cave to it. See why I took issue with it now?
A Better Way to React
I am not writing this post to make fun of the author or anything of that nature. I am writing because, given the many comments echoing her sentiments, I felt the need to address it from a more balanced and healthy perspective.
The author clearly operates thinking that happiness is a result of your experiences. What she fails to understand is that happiness has nothing to do with experiences.
You can be suffering through cancer, undergoing chemo and radiation (losing your hair, fatigued, and struggling), and still remain happy through all of it. Happiness occurs BEFORE you experience anything. It influences how you view and react to those experiences.
Inspirational messages are meant to help people reposition how they look at their life and reality. If you are unable or unwilling to admit that your view of the world very well might be your biggest weakness, you will react as the author has in this post.
Life is wonderful. Happiness is within reach. Peace is yours for the taking. But you have to let go of how society tells you to behave and think. You have to embrace the possibility that there is more, for you and for all of us.
And you have to accept that happiness is not some imaginary state of mind being sold by smarmy snake oil salesmen over the internet. It is, in reality, heaven on earth. It is what we should all want for ourselves and our loved ones, and all of humankind.
Go out and create your own little slice of heaven. You deserve it, as does the author of this post. Hopefully, she can one day get past her hangups and accept happiness into her own life.