Happiness for Sale

20 Aug

Is anybody happy?  I wondered.

If the volume of self-help books (How to Feel Better, How to Look Better, How to Write a Self-Help Book Better) lining the shelves at my local bookstore is any indication of the level of unhappiness in our society, we’re headed for disaster.

If we want to avoid entering a national state of misery we should figure out the cause of our discontentment, and fast.

Is the problem fallout from a national recession?  Increased violence in the U.S.?  The end of The Oprah Winfrey Show?

As it turns out, we don’t have to look far.  The problem is all around us, in our TV’s, radios, magazines, and computers. We may not realize it, but we receive the same depressing message every day: “You suck.”

That’s what advertisers convey, anyway, when they try to sell us their products.  They make us feel unhappy with what we have by exploiting our yellow teeth, jiggly thighs and frizzy hair in order to sell us whitening strips, thigh burners, and hair conditioner.

Celebrity role models like Brooke Shields woo us with the possibilities for longer eyelashes with Latisse prescription eyelash lengthener.   Results may cause you to have problems swallowing, speaking, breathing, loss of strength, muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and loss of bladder control.  But buy it and you’ll bat your baby blues with eyelashes longer than a camel’s.

We buy products to make ourselves smarter, happier, wealthier, sexier, stronger, thinner, and trendier.  Good enough is no longer good enough.  Now we have to be just right.  We’re made to feel like failures if we don’t keep up, whether it’s fashion, self-image, technology, or food.

Did you know your eggs have expired?  Not the date of freshness, the shape.  Oval is out, square is in.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the Egg Cuber Square Egg Press that transforms a round, hard-boiled egg into a square egg.

And your toast?   If your toast is still square then so are you.  Strips are what’s hot.  The new Toast Strips Stamper will cut your toast into skinny rectangles for an improved toast experience.

Living in a free market economy where businesses rely on consumers, we’re told what we need rather than how to meet our real needs. The problem is, we’ll never feel completely gratified because someone will always have something better, offering the hope of a false and alluring promise.

Excited about your new state-of-the-art espresso maker?  Don’t be, your friend Judy just bought the same one only hers came with bling.

Making everything about “us” has become an epidemic in our society.  But the truth is, we reach our greatest potential not by fulfilling our own needs, but by helping others.  There are myriad charities out there in need of volunteers, and you don’t have to be smart, happy, wealthy or sexy to help. You just have to show up.

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56 Responses to “Happiness for Sale”

  1. Grown and Flown August 20, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    The need is great everywhere any of us looks. Once you begin helping others it can be transformational, for the volunteer. Couldn’t agree with you more!

  2. Ronnie hammer August 20, 2012 at 9:01 am #

    Thanks for leaving out varicose veins, blochy skin and buck teeth. I was afraid I’d see myself in you advertising blitz.

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 20, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Ha! Honestly there are so many flaws that ads focus on nowadays it was hard for me to choose which to pick for this piece!

  3. Lisa August 20, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    Love this! “Perfection” is a ridiculous goal…but making the world a little better is totally do-able! Thanks for a great read first thing on a Monday!

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 20, 2012 at 10:13 am #

      Thanks, Lisa. I agree, our society is obsesses with perfection. In an interview I watched last night with Rihanna, she said she doesn’t like being a role model because there’s too much pressure. People expect perfection.

  4. Don't Quote Lily August 20, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    All very true! We should focus more on helping others and less on those stupid ads. 😉

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 20, 2012 at 10:19 am #

      Amen. And let me be the first to point out my hypocritical ways — I have some of those ads on my website (my fledgling effort at trying to earn a few cents thru wordpress). I can’t control what ads go up, but if I ever do make any real money I am going to donate it to charity!

      • Don't Quote Lily August 20, 2012 at 10:24 am #

        Well there you go, nothing wrong with that! 😉

      • mysending August 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

        Yes, I was just going to mention the wonderful offer for long lashes right here! That’s so helpful to have it here so I don’t have to go looking for it elsewhere!

  5. downhousesoftware August 20, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    “Perfection is the enemy of the good.”
    I’m not sure where that quote comes from, but I hear it from my wife all the time.

    This isn’t some “Good enough for government work” cop-out, it’s a reminder that getting to perfect can sometimes destroy what you would otherwise be happy with.

    OK, I’m glad to get that off my chest, now I have to get to P90X, because the other night, while surfing a barren landscape of late night TV, I found out that my body is not ‘beach-ready.’

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 20, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Love it! I had never heard that quote before so I looked it up (does that make me a perfectionist, or just curious?) If you trust Wikipedia—“Perfect is the enemy of good is an aphorism or proverb which is commonly attributed to Voltaire whose moral poem, La Bégueule, starts[1]
      “ Dans ses écrits, un sàge Italien
      Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

      (In his writings, a wise Italian
      says that the best is the enemy of the good) ”

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. G M Barlean August 20, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    Great post! I agree 100%. Media and advertising is virtually ruining our world. Shut the tv off. It’s the only way.

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 20, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      And ads are cropping up in the most unlikely places, such as bathroom stalls. There’s no escaping it!

  7. Paprika Furstenburg August 20, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Great post, Lisa! Messages that there is something wrong, yet fixable, with us are everywhere. We should be celebrating the the sefl confidence and courage it takes to walk around with short eyelashes, flabby limbs, frizzy hair and yellow teeth.

  8. ComplexSymmetry August 20, 2012 at 10:49 am #

    “And your toast? If your toast is still square then so are you.”
    Absolute gem of a line!

  9. Carrie Rubin August 20, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Great post. Funny and wise. Glad I’m not the only one who thinks it’s really creepy to risk all those side effects just to have longer lashes. I mean, really? I’m pretty sure a tube of mascara can pull off the same thing, and if it can’t, who cares? 🙂

  10. Tina August 20, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Advertising; don’t get me started. How about those campaign commercials? Down right embarrassing all around. It’s not easy to maintain a gentle spirit these days and I’ve yet to find any “product” to assist in that maintenance.

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 20, 2012 at 2:37 pm #

      Oh, but there is. And I use it on occasion. It’s called Xanax. 🙂

      • Tina August 20, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

        And, isn’t it interesting that there is a product, oh wait, about 100, that we can buy to maintain sanity?

  11. jotsfromasmallapt August 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

    I have one HUGE flaw…only ONE…streaky legs (attributed to my no-tan white skin condition) from using bottled tanning lotion.
    I promise not to purchase another bottle…until next year. Unless…it’s on sale…or I have a coupon…or someone kicks sand in my face…

  12. the domestic fringe August 20, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Amen! Very well said.

  13. earthriderjudyberman August 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Lisa, you’re on to something. Years ago, Oprah Winfrey interviewed people who were happy at their jobs – a school custodian, a trash collector, and – I think – a school bus driver.

    I didn’t lust after the longer lashes or the size-two dresses. I wanted to do something that made me as happy and fulfilled at work as they felt. The feeling that you’re doing something valued, worthwhile, does make all the difference.

    Today, I feel a bit of that pixie dust rubbed off on me.

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 21, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      Interesting, Judy, thanks for sharing. I agree that we can create our own sense of fulfillment through our actions–we don’t have to rely on Tinkerbell for the pixie dust!

  14. The Laughing Mom August 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Yes! Thank you for reminding us. Great message.

  15. Huffygirl August 20, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    I do believe you’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head Lisa. I just hope you did it with the amazing Accuhammer. With the amazing Accuhammer, all your nails will go in perfectly straight. Operators are standing by…Oh wait, I think I feel an infauxmercial blog post coming on 🙂

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 21, 2012 at 7:38 am #

      Ha! How much is the accuhammer? Will it make me look better? Feel better? Cat fight better?

  16. ceciliag August 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    Me. i am happy. Quite happy with my imperfect body. However I need to point out that i do not read the paper, watch TV or get magazines and i spend most of my life in gumboots!! great post! c

  17. shalaghhogan August 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    There is so much entwined in this subject. About our ego’s identities and the predatory nature of our media. And the magic spray to counteract the evil brain disease? Self-esteem. Which can certainly use a jump start with a selfless act and no mirror in sight. Also helpful, my friend’s mantra, “What other people think of me is none of my business”. My white teeth are for me when I do occasionally wave hi to myself in the mirror. Love your style lady Lisa.

  18. Perfecting Motherhood August 22, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    I’m so glad I don’t have TV and don’t read any magazines. My kids are tempted enough to want new toys every time we go to the store. I don’t keep up with the Joneses and I can’t afford it anyway. I hope my kids don’t grow up with this attitude. Otherwise I’ll have to be them with a stick! Things really have gone to the extreme in this country but I think we’re seeing a trend towards austerity now, at least with a small minority.

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 22, 2012 at 8:40 am #

      I think the bottom line is values when it comes to happiness. And fortunately that’s something we can control when we raise our kids.

  19. Sylver Blaque August 22, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    I love that you point out the joy in helping others. There really is nothing that feels that good (well, sex…I mean, GOOD sex…but you know what I mean. You do know what I mean, right??) Anyway, yeah, doing something for someone else (NOT sex!) is a high in itself. There is no adequate substitute. If helping others goes away, what exactly are we here for?

  20. SzaboInSlowMo August 22, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    So, so true. That Brooke Shield’s eyelash commercial scares the hell out of me. No way would I put that stuff on my eyes and potentially go blind due to vanity. Same goes for Botox, lipo, tattoos as eyeliner, etc. I’m sure it’s fine for some, but that’s just me. I’d be that 1 in 500,000th person who experienced all the bad stuff, haha.

    On a sidenote, I just awarded you the Kreativ Blogger Award, and now I see that you already have that one. Oh well, you can do it if you like, but I wanted to link your blog anyway. Hope you have a great day.

  21. mark August 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    I hate to tell you this, but the ad at the end of your post was suggesting I’m fat and I should never eat bananas again (along with 4 other unnamed foods). Irony.

    You are absolutely right and the news has a role in it too – perpetuate the fear and the sheep shall follow. Not surprising though, as they rely on advertising dollars to keep the lights on.

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

      Touché. Thanks for sharing your insights. P.S. My advertising dollars aren’t enough to keep my nightlight on . . . 🙂

  22. Eloise Currie August 24, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Great points. Marketers have invented needs that we didn’t used to have, which leads to droves of people rushing to the mall to buy these things that will ultimately end up in yard sales. Do you see anyone still using small appliances that came out twenty years ago and did one thing? No.

    People don’t think, they just consume. Thoughtlessly.

    Great post.

  23. christinavl August 25, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    What a great post and so true!

  24. Audubon Ron August 26, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    Me, I don’t see it that way. I feel sorry for you people who are not perfect in every way – like me. You are so lucky to have me as a routine commentor. 🙂

  25. Light Friday August 27, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    love this text (-:

  26. Nifti August 30, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    Laughed out loud on square eggs. Great post!

    • Main Street Musings Blog August 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

      At least it’s a manmade product and not a genetic alteration. Otherwise that would be one sore hen . .

  27. lexiesnana September 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    I stopped by and started laughing.I have to admit that my friend and I try a lot of remedies but we really know they won’t make us Movie Stars.We do have fun and I guess we don’t listen to all the hype of cures for long lashes and sore feet.Thanks for bringing me back some fun memories.

  28. Mark Armstrong September 6, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    My kinda musings! You woulda made a great guest on Oprah. Kidding… : )

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