10 Steps To Happiness
If you saw the title and decided to read further, I am afraid that you come to the wrong place. I do not know if you have noticed, but there is a general trend to give out a list of 5, maximum 10 things to do in order to achieve anything. How to be happy, how to cope with anxiety, how to fix your relationship with yourself and with your partner and how to change your life are some of the few titles we see gaining more ground and visibility. People wish to achieve self-actualization in just 10 simple steps.
The trend started from bloggers like The Purpose Fairy who became famous after writing the well-known article “15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy”. Apparently, 1.2 million people shared her article on Facebook and I truly wonder how many people are actually happier because they read the list. The article, like many others, lays out a simple “To Do” list that guarantees happiness. Not once will you find in such articles guidance on how to achieve these steps and how long it might take. Yet, they guarantee absolute happiness at the end of a 15-step process.
Do not get me wrong. I like 10 simple steps to bake a cake or to design something in Photoshop, but when it comes to fixing anxiety, sadness or a relationship, I know it takes more than that. The danger of such lists is that people expect a quick fix and some risk feeling even more disappointed in case they fail at it.
It is important to know who writes these articles. Usually, people who already reached self-actualization and wish to share their long process with others are inclined to write 5-10-steps articles. They find it easy to summarize their journey and give out the “simple” results. Then, you have people who wish to sell their books and attract a desperate public looking for quick solutions to fix their pain.
I am sure that the Purpose Fairy belongs to the first group. However, what she fails to mention in her article, is how she got there? How long was her journey to happiness? What concrete steps did she take and how did she become ready to let go of her past, fears and anguishes? But, most importantly, she fails to mention that those 15 steps are specific to her journey and that she’s only sharing her story and not a recipe that can apply to everyone.
I wish articles would not sell the idea of happiness as if it is a simple recipe ready to be put in practice by anyone. I wish people were told that happiness and the path towards recovery is a very personal one and that there aren’t any general A to Z steps to follow. I wish people were told that sometimes it takes years of therapy, of love and support from family and friends, and self-determination to be able to want better for yourself.
People should know that finding happiness or dealing with anxiety might be in some cases a lifelong process and that it is normal. Patience is what we should inspire those who are looking for a quick fix. If we need to have a list, it should be one teaching people how to accept that currently you are unhappy, anxious and afraid and that time is key to solving these issues.
Therefore, if you see these lists in the future, let them inspire you, but please do not let them fool into thinking that they are the solution to your problem. With time and patience, you will find your own solutions, which will match you more than any list found on the internet.
Work of art: Sagmeister Walsh
Picture taken by: Anamaria Olaru
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