Happiness for Sale
Wednesday, August 22, 2012 • 9:06am
Is anybody happy? I wondered.
If the volume of self-help books (How to Feel Better, How to Look Better, How to Write a Self-Help Book Better) lining the shelves at my local bookstore is any indication of the level of unhappiness in our society, we’re headed for disaster.
If we want to avoid entering a national state of misery we should figure out the cause of our discontentment, and fast.
Is the problem fallout from a national recession? Increased violence in the U.S.? The end of The Oprah Winfrey Show?
As it turns out, we don’t have to look far. The problem is all around us, in our TV’s, radios, magazines, and computers. We may not realize it, but we receive the same depressing message every day: “You suck.”
That’s what advertisers convey, anyway, when they try to sell us their products. They make us feel unhappy with what we have by exploiting our yellow teeth, jiggly thighs and frizzy hair in order to sell us whitening strips, thigh burners, and hair conditioner.
Celebrity role models like Brooke Shields woo us with the possibilities for longer eyelashes with Latisse prescription eyelash lengthener. Results may cause you to have problems swallowing, speaking, breathing, loss of strength, muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and loss of bladder control. But buy it and you’ll bat your baby blues with eyelashes longer than a camel’s.
We buy products to make ourselves smarter, happier, wealthier, sexier, stronger, thinner, and trendier. Good enough is no longer good enough. Now we have to be just right. We’re made to feel like failures if we don’t keep up, whether it’s fashion, self-image, technology, or food.
Did you know your eggs have expired? Not the date of freshness, the shape. Oval is out, square is in. Don’t believe me? Check out the Egg Cuber Square Egg Press that transforms a round, hard-boiled egg into a square egg.
And your toast? If your toast is still square then so are you. Strips are what’s hot. The new Toast Strips Stamper will cut your toast into skinny rectangles for an improved toast experience.
Living in a free market economy where businesses rely on consumers, we’re told what we need rather than how to meet our real needs. The problem is, we’ll never feel completely gratified because someone will always have something better, offering the hope of a false and alluring promise.
Excited about your new state-of-the-art espresso maker? Don’t be, your friend Judy just bought the same one only hers came with bling.
Making everything about “us” has become an epidemic in our society. But the truth is, we reach our greatest potential not by fulfilling our own needs, but by helping others. There are myriad charities out there in need of volunteers, and you don’t have to be smart, happy, wealthy or sexy to help. You just have to show up.
When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother. Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties. Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist. Her weekly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs---the good, the bad, and the ugly. Visit her blog http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/. Follow her on twitter @lisatognola