I remember watching an interview with David Bowie many years ago, where he said that people always equate profound emotion and also deep thought with things like anger or sadness, when really it’s much more subversive nowadays to be happy.
Joy is anything but a superficial emotion, and it’s well worth pursuing. Your mission today is to learn why this is so and how you can go about it.
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Task 1: Why joy is a profound emotion
I’ve spoken about our evolutionary negativity bias before, but this goes far beyond that. It’s about the way we have created almost a cult around anything negative today.
News exploit the fact that people are drawn to negativity. Even academics has succumbed to the cult of the sad and angry, to the point where fictional books or movies with a happy ending are seen as shallow on principle.
Historically, strong emotions have always moved artists to create their best works. However, it’s not just sadness or frustration, but also happiness, being in love, finding joy – just think of religious hymns and paintings. Joy is a profound emotion, too.
Task 2: The challenges of focusing on joy
As Bowie stated, in our culture it’s akin to a revolutionary act to be happy. You’ll be faced with all sorts of prejudices and obstacles such as:
- People will assume that you’re superficial
- People will assume that you’re naive and inexperienced
- Some will try and take advantage of you
- “Negativity-splainers” will go out of their way to tell you negative stories to make you more “realistic”
To stand against the united forces of negativity takes a lot. Stick it out, though; it’s worth it.
Task 3: How to pursue joy and happiness
Here are three steps you can take to become a happy revolutionary:
- Stop watching or reading news for a while
- List 3 things you’re grateful for every day
- If you’re happy and you know it… acknowledge it. Write it down, tell others.
Happiness and joy are habits just like everything else. If you work on it regularly, you’ll feel much more joy almost every day.