For perhaps the first time in my adult life, I’m genuinely happy. I’ve also become seriously uncool by society’s standards.Here’s my theory as to why the two are connected.
- Happiness has low entertainment value. For me, happiness is about authentic living (i.e. embracing your seriously uncool passions), discipline, delayed gratification, etc. None of these hold much entertainment value in contemporary society. By voluntarily opting out of the endless array of stressors in today’s world, you’re not exactly creating a life that’s reality television material. (Note: I try to avoid what my mom terms “reverse conspicuous consumption” in which your lack of material possessions becomes a spectacle for its own sake)
- Happiness means opting out of excess. For me, the things that ultimately make me happy involve shedding excess – whether weight, possessions, or stressors. In our society, coolness is often tied to the myth of consumption without consequences – large purchases without debt, comfort food without weight gain, hard living without aging, etc. By acknowledging these consequences, we put ourselves on a path to greater happiness because we make more mindful choices. But in the meantime, we seriously buck convention.
- Happiness is taken as judgement. I’ve been vegetarian most of my life and am very familiar with this phenomenon – I tell someone about my life-choice (usually in the context of, “I don’t eat meat, but thanks for the offer.”) and if they haven’t made the same choice, they take it as a judgement on my part. Now to add to that, I’m lowish-carb, rarely drink, don’t do caffeine, and (ideally) in bed by 11:30pm. Even though these things ultimately make me happy, I feel like others sometimes see it as a personal judgment of them. Perhaps it’s just my own insecurities of feeling boring and less able to connect with others about food, alcohol, etc.
Have your own endeavors toward happiness made you feel uncool? If so, what helped you feel more comfortable with your life changes?