Last summer, I took a marketing class called Social Networking for Writers. Secret #1: People want to be happier, healthier, wealthier and sexier – and smarter because they feel happy, healthy, wealthy and sexy. It’s only the first secret, and I’m already asking myself questions. How can I identify and contact my target audience when I don’t have a clue how to give them what they want? Since I’m not really in the health, wealth or sex advice business, happy compared to what?
Compared to others, according to Alain de Botton. In his book Status Anxiety, de Botton writes that the decline in actual deprivation, due to modern societies’ astonishing advances, paradoxically triggered feelings of dissatisfaction. Blessings of increased wealth and knowledge, food and other material goods, life expectancy and security apparently focus our attention on equality of status, that is, importance, achievement and income. Who one is and what one has might not be enough to measure up to one’s peers. “We cannot, it seems, appreciate what we have for its own merit,” states de Botton. It’s as if we’re all attending Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Proximity increases envy, and covetousness lowers the level of happiness in our party glasses.
Perhaps we can replenish happiness by trying less to be equal with others and more to be ourselves as individuals. Happiness is experiential, according to Daniel Gilbert author of Stumbling on Happiness. What we’re really talking about is the realm of emotions – feelings of being happy, healthy, wealthy and attractive compared to one’s own experiences, memories of the past and thoughts of the future. Therefore, one person’s perspective is happiness’ point of view, context, lens and glass of life.
My writing teacher Sara Taber says that she writes for herself and publishes in hopes that others will enjoy what she writes. A non-judgmental act, a well-crafted scene, the hint of a pebble cast into a pond might bring a smile of recognition to the reader’s face. A good story can pour sparkling bubbles of joy into a glass.
What makes you happy?