We usually know when and why we are not happy, but why do we sometimes struggle to count our blessings when they seem plentiful?
It can be uncomfortable to realise that we still feel insecure and unhappy despite the ‘evidence’ that we shouldn’t be.
Could it be that our relationships with things and aspirations are no substitute for our relationship with ourselves or others? The sense of ‘knowing’ that we should be more appreciative or thankful, which Guy Debord calls “the secret misery of everyday life”, can leave us feeling ashamed and alone.
There are good reasons to feel insecure when we feel we control so little. Debt, dependence on work, mortgages, conflict with others. But when these aren’t an issue, why then, that feeling that something important is missing? What is the heart of this lack of fulfilment?
This is less about material things than rooted in our feelings. Feelings that define us as human – doubt, futility, impermanence, insignificance. Perhaps mortality itself.
Stephen Hawking observed that
“We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star, but we can understand the universe. That makes us something very special”
It is hard however to feel special with 7 billion other people equally convinced that they are. A sense of the bigness of the world around us and our smallness within it can feel like gaping into a chasm of doubt about who we are and what we have done or should do.
This chasm is our self-awareness and an insight in to how we experience ourselves and the expectations we feel come from those around us. That uncomfortable realisation that what we have can be taken away, that whilst not villains, we are not heroes. We can neither rescue nor be rescued. This is what there is. When ‘why me’ echoes back ‘why not me’ it can feel terrifying.
Chasms can be dark and full of our own echoes, but they can be turned away from.
Our resources in every sense are present with us in the here and now, not in our history, nor in our theory of what the future might hold.
Unhappiness can be a way of misunderstanding that challenge of existence itself. To make the most of our impermanence now. To authentically value our relationship with ourselves as the prerequisite to valuing and making the most of the relationships we have with those around us.