I remember watching an interview with the late, great David Bowie back in the late 80s or early 90s. He was talking about some tough times he’s been through, involving addiction and coming to grips with his fame. Then he said how he used to celebrate being miserable, and lament the state of the world like so many others do.
What he said next hit me like a truck: He said that actually, anyone can complain about the state of the world and the people in it. It’s nothing new, or special, or revolutionary at all. The real act of subversion, he continued, is to be happy, to find the silver lining, to believe in people. Hardly anyone’s brave enough to hope.
It really made me think. I believe he’s right. How often have people smiled condescendingly when I told them I focus on the positive? I’ve been called “naive”. But then, many people run around pronouncing life meaningless and the world doomed. They’ve done so for years, without success.
Maybe it’s time for a different approach: an act of rebellion against the universal misery.
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You may protest that the world truly is in trouble. Natural resources are being used up at an alarming rate, the climate is heating up. There’s a rise in extreme political parties in many countries, and poverty seems to be everywhere.
I have friends who’d argue that more people need to get angry, because too many are indifferent. I disagree. You only need to check out any political post on social media to see how angry people are, how hateful they are. The opposite of indifference isn’t anger in any case; it’s joy and happiness.
[bctt tweet=”Reality is whatever we convince our brains to focus on.”]
Reality is whatever we convince our brains to focus on. Since bad news sells, the media feed us a disproportionate amount of negativity in order to get reader and viewer numbers up. In fact, there’s much more good than bad in the world.
Some years ago, Leonie Dawson collected reasons why the world is wonderful. It’s still true today. Simply focus on good news and your perspective will change. More importantly, the world will change, too.
Happiness as an act of rebellion
“Imagine there’s a war and nobody shows up,” wrote Bert Brecht. I say, imagine there’s doom and gloom and nobody believes it! Hedonism, the focus on joy and fun, is often dismissed as a superficial and selfish attitude. But if you think it through, it seems a lot more benign than stress, negativity, and the hunger for power.
If everyone pursued their deepest joy, if people were radical enough to seek what lights them up, the world would be a better place. Joyful people don’t destroy the world. They have no need to prove they’re better than others. Happy people overflow with emotion and wish to share it, rather than exclude the less fortunate.
Why would a thoroughly happy person wish to destroy the planet in order to profit? They’re too busy doing what they love. Besides, they need a healthy world in order to continue pursuing their passion. It’s in their own best interest – their selfish interest, if you will – to protect, nourish, and sustain, rather than consume and destroy.
What you can do
Bad news first: You’ll no longer feel the comfort of commiserating with everyone else. People might not find you as clever or cool as they used to. The good news is, that you’ll gain outrageous happiness and underlying peace of mind, and a whole host of new friends who’ll join you in this act of rebellion.
Things you could start with are:
1. No more complaining. Try not to complain about anything for three days. It’s harder than you think! Don’t post anything negative on social media either, and don’t get into arguments with people online.
2. Find the silver lining. Whenever you hear someone else complain or say something negative, challenge yourself to find a positive side to it. You needn’t say it out loud, just make a compelling argument in your head.
3. Ditch the media. Yeah, I know you’ve heard me say this before. If you think you can’t live without news, trust me, even Facebook will keep you informed on any big things happening. Don’t watch, read, or listen to news for a week or a month, and watch your life change.
The first effect you’ll feel is on your own life. You’ll be happier and more content. But there’s also an effect on the world around you, a ripple effect. Joy is contageous. Changing the world truly starts from within, and the more people join in, the more comprehensive the change is going to become.
Join the revolution.