It’s enough to really get you down: this constant drive that there seems to be to make everyone happy. There are Happiness Czars and websites all desperate to make me happy. But surely this is a fiction? We’re not meant to be happy all of the time.
Thankfully I’m not alone in my need for the occasional bout of misery. The writer, Mary Kenny, puts it rather well in an article about depression in 2010. She feels that we have moved away from normal expressions of grief, bereavement and loss and are denying ourselves the human need to work through the trauma of losing people; she believes, “We are losing old rituals which human beings have practised for eons.”
And, it seems, money won’t make us any happier either. As you’ll see in this video, the happiness curve plateaus rather sharply at a certain level of income and no amount of added spondoolicks is going to make it rise again.
In the same video, Lord Layard makes a very important point that happiness derives often from helping each other, from playing a full role in supporting the ones we love and care for. As coaches we could easily extend that to the clients we work with. The reflected glow of their achievement creates a deeper sense of enjoyment that goes beyond the blandishments of mere ‘job satisfaction’.
I argue it’s not happiness we should be searching for, but ‘contentment’. Happiness is a fleeting pleasure. But contentment has a profounder effect on our wellbeing. My idea of contentment is not the smug glow of complacency, but that which derives from a sense of achievement; of hours, days and a life well spent.
And sometimes, just sometimes, I feel down. It’s normal. It’s good.
And I’m happy to settle for that.