04 Jun Redefining the terms of happiness
I discovered this interesting happiness commentary but unfortunately, could not work out to whom I should attribute it! Anyway, thanks to the writer and I hope you enjoy it…
AND THEY all lived happily ever afterê¢__‘Ô_ That most traditional of happy endings may, ironically, be to blame for much domestic misery, according to research conducted by therapists in the United States.
They say that some unhappiness is inevitable in any relationship, as it is in life in general, and that accepting it is far healthier than striving for an illusory perfection. And they blame fairytales and their perpetuation in modern cultural stereotypes for feeding the myth that the perfect relationship is possible.
Indeed, not only does our society say the perfect relationship is possible, it almost tells us that perfection is an entitlement. The more imperfection is spread out before our eyes with rising divorce rates, domestic violence and inter-generational dislocation, the more the images fed into our subconscious present perfection as the norm.
Rare is the movie without a clich?d happy ending, while advertising messages inevitably depict smiling couples, hand in hand with beautiful children as loving grandparents look on from afar. And celebrity culture portrays a world of fairytale weddings and beautiful, successful people living the happiest moments of their lives.
Sure, ignominy and tears are attendant on such hubris to complete this morality play of our modern times, but what we never read about are the little moments of boredom, of anxiety or irritation, the falling off of passion and its replacement with banal domestic routine.
Fairytales, ancient and modern, tell us only of bliss and tragedy, they have nothing to say about the ordinary in between that forms the mainstay of our lives. But in striving for perfection, we are often introducing an unbearable strain into our relationships, judging them to fail against an unrealistic ideal.
In seeking to protect our children, we can often set them in a crystal bubble, shielding them from reality. Worse, our growing mountain of expectation marks the slightest slip as failure. And while it is understandable to push for the best, what we fail to teach our children is that life is often mundane, that obstacles and uncertainties are normal, yet can be overcome.
These are the strengths that we need to build up, as individuals and as couples, developing a realistic understanding of life and others that will help us cope in hard times and appreciate the good.
Indeed, instead of expecting an eternity of wedded bliss, perhaps a more realistic vision is given at the very moment when couples exchange their vows, pledging their faith “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health”. If we accept that hardship is an integral part of life, then perhaps we can begin to glimpse a more attainable form of happiness.