Sometimes we do it, we adapt to what does not make us happy as if we are wearing a pair of shoes of the wrong size and, after a while, we realize that we are not able to walk, run, fly … Happiness is not it hurts, therefore it must not oppress or take away the air, but it must allow us to be free, light and masters of our way.
A few years ago, a soap brand that marketed its products among companies launched a range of soap bars engraved with the words “Happiness is Business”.
Although concepts such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow” emphasize the importance of focusing body and soul on an activity to achieve happiness, this equation must take into account whether this activity is meaningful or not. In fact, many workers looked with sad irony at the slogan of soaps because not all of them were happy to perform a task that, although profitable, did not involve psychological well-being.
We could say, almost without fear of making mistakes, that we adapt almost strongly to daily routines, even though we are aware that they do not make us happy (taking up the metaphor of shoes, they make us blister). It’s like stepping into a Ferris wheel that never stops spinning. The world, life continues outside, restless, perfect, inaccessible, while we remain prisoners of our routine.
We adapt to feel safe
As children, our parents tied our shoes by making a double knot, so they didn’t come untied and we didn’t trip. They tucked up our blankets with affection and, when it was time to go out, they lifted the collars of our jackets and coats so that we wouldn’t get cold.
Maybe all this body pressure made us feel uncomfortable at times, but we felt like we were safe. As we grew up and gained adult responsibilities, that need to feel safe remained. However, that indefinable drive that drives us to seek safety often conditions our behavior.
As curious as it may seem, the part of us most sensitive to this need is the brain. The brain does not like changes, risks or threats. It is it that whispers to us: “Adapt even if you are not happy, because safety is a guarantee of survival”. We must be clear, however, that adaptation does not always go hand in hand with happiness, among the many reasons why this adaptation does not actually occur.
There are those who continue to carry on a relationship as a couple even if there is no real love, true complicity or happiness itself. The important thing, for some, is to escape from loneliness and for this they also adapt to a heart that does not correspond to theirs.
The same happens at the working level. There are many people who choose to show a “low profile”, or a low profile. Docile, malleable people, who diminish merits and qualifications when they draw up the curriculum because they know that it is the only way to adapt to certain corporate hierarchies.
It is as if a registered slogan, like that of the soap brand mentioned at the beginning, passes through their minds: “Adapt or die, give up to survive”.
Now, is it really worth dying of unhappiness?
To be happy, you have to make decisions
While the brain resists change and elegantly invites us to stay in our comfort zone, it is genetically programmed to face challenges and to survive. In fact, there is a very interesting data on this that invites us to reflect.
Researchers Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray some time ago defined the concept of the “Flynn Effect”. It has been observed that, year after year, the IQ score goes up. Among the many factors, this also depends on the fact that modern life is increasingly full of stimuli: we have easy access to information, we interact more and our children process information faster and faster, all stimuli linked to new technologies.
An essential aspect that psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists and anthropologists are aware of is that a high IQ is not always accompanied by happiness. It seems that having an intricate and strong neuronal texture is not always synonymous with psychological well-being. It is strange and disconcerting at the same time.
What is going on then? We have adapted to an information society, but at the same time we remain locked up in our comfort zone like those who watch life pass in front of their eyes, inventing a substitute for happiness, something temporary that causes stress and anxiety.
Perhaps we have forgotten that to be happy you have to make decisions, you have to get rid of shoes of the wrong size and run the risk of walking barefoot. We have forgotten that love doesn’t have to hurt, that being docile at work doesn’t always bring good results and that sometimes we have to challenge those who subdue us and go out the front door to make our way.
How about starting today?
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