I was recently driving with a friend while she told me about a terrible thing that had happened to her the day before.
“…and then Justin texted me and I felt so much better, but isn’t that bad?” she asked.
“What? Why?” I asked her.
“Because, I should be able to make myself feel better, you know, happiness is supposed to come from within, not from someone else,” she answered, sounding like a Tumblr quote.
I hear women recite these “rules for life” from various self-help books, blogs and social networks all the time. Some conversations start with “I saw a quote on (insert any social network here) the other day and it really made me think…” My friend asking if it was bad that Justin made her feel better made me start thinking. Whose rules are these anyway?
It seems that people are becoming so caught up in what books and social networks are saying about how to live life that they’re forgetting to listen to themselves. Instead of acting on a feeling they have, they’re remembering quotes and doing what a book said they should do. And feeling bad for accepting something that made them feel good because they think they’re breaking some rule that is supposed to be the key to the happiest and best life.
While some books and quotes can be enlightening and inspiring, we need to remember that they were written by other people based on their opinions. We live in an age of instant access to other people’s opinions on everything from relationships to medicine to cooking, sex and side chicks. If you’re not careful some of these quotes and lessons on life from complete strangers who know nothing about your life will make you question things about yourself that you never have before. Just because Coco Chanel or Rob Hill Sr. said it doesn’t mean that it’s right for YOU.
There’s nothing wrong with or weak about accepting what you need when you need it, even if it comes from a source outside of yourself. The idea that people are never supposed to look outside of themselves for happiness is absurd in my opinion. I believe what is found in oneself is contentment, which is not the same as being happy. There is a certain amount of interaction, affection and approval from other people that everyone needs to be genuinely happy.
I think it’s a good idea to sometimes disconnect from the online “social” world and self-help books, blogs etc. and help yourself by really listening to yourself and giving yourself what it asks for. I believe wholeheartedly that life is a journey where the focus shouldn’t always be on the end result. If we do what we have to in order to get through right now, the end result will be a sequence of satisfying moments.
But don’t take my word for it, listen to yourself!