Not finding yourself, not knowing your destiny, not meeting your love – these fears have received a snide definition of “first world problems” on the Internet. On the one hand, nobody requires us to be the best of the best. Parents are ready to love us for who we are. But, on the other hand, we read success stories and think: why can’t we do everything like this multimillionaire? Is there something wrong with us?
Yes, our happiness depends primarily on us. There is no one to blame for their own laziness, negligence and indiscipline. But this does not mean that it is worthwhile to strain a little – and we will get everything we want and deserve.
Children whom we have surrounded with care and attention do not necessarily grow up smart and well-mannered. And going to the gym regularly doesn’t necessarily make our body look like the picture in the magazine. And most importantly, we won’t necessarily live happily ever after.
If today a white streak has come in life, tomorrow it may change to a black one, and there is nothing terrible in this
The pursuit of happiness, well-being and success can act like a drug: at some point, we begin to hate ourselves for not being able to keep up with our dreams. The more expectations, the more unsightly the reality. There will always be something that overshadows the triumph, leaves a speck of dirt on the cuff of a snow-white shirt and creeps into a diploma with a silly typo.
But there is also an alternative view offered by oriental cultures. Psychologists Luo Liu and Robin Gilmore found that China has a different attitude to happiness than America. If Americans perceive life as a consistent movement towards happiness, then for the Chinese it is rather a balance between happiness and unhappiness. If today there is a white stripe in our life, tomorrow it may change to black. But there is nothing terrible about this: it means that after a while everything will be fine again.
The paradox of happiness is that we get too attached to it, we don’t want to let it go. An oriental view of happiness helps to come to terms with the fact that any pleasure is imperfect and short-lived. Sooner or later, he will have to be released – so that he can look forward to him again.
“Happiness is not in success, but in the ability to enjoy what you are doing”
Elena Perova, clinical psychologist
In Eastern cultures, the attitude towards happiness is indeed more balanced. It seems to me that it is precisely this opposition – “poise” versus “obsession” – that becomes the key.
A person raised in Western culture is used to thinking that happiness is a state that can be achieved. You just need to work, invest, and then the long-awaited “and they lived happily ever after.” Everyone has the right to happiness, it cannot be otherwise. Americans are even guaranteed it by the constitution.
A person with an eastern mentality knows that no one guarantees him any personal happiness. Unhappiness is an integral part of life, and you need to be prepared for it. Therefore, when troubles occur, the Eastern person perceives them more calmly than the Western one, for whom unhappiness is something that does not fit into his picture of the world.
Attitudes and expectations are one part of the question. The second, no less important, is the values that make up happiness. Positive psychology has long dispelled the myth that you can be happy with a career and a lot of money. This is important, but not enough. Mihai Csikszentmihalyi, Martin Seligman, Sonya Lubomirsky and many others talk about this.
The idea that happiness is not in success per se, but in the ability to enjoy what you do, in the feeling of being included in something greater, is repeated in many books on popular psychology. Now the most advanced part of Western society understands this.
About the expert
Elena Perova – clinical psychologist, translator of the books “Fundamentals of Object Relations Theory” by J. and D. Scharffov, “Beyond the Self” by Frank Summers, “Psychosynthesis. Principles and Techniques ”by Roberto Assagioli and“ Stream. The Psychology of Optimal Experience ”by Mihai Csikszentmihalyi.