Even the ancient Greeks and Simone de Beauvoir knew that suffering is part of our existence. Today's funny people, in our eternal optimization mania, would rather chop off our hands than admit that we're in a bad mood. The columnist does not exempt herself from this.
"Don't worry, be happy" - a catchy tune, sorry. But that's what this text is supposed to be about - this feeling of having to be in a good mood all the time. It's only natural when you don't feel like it when you want to say no. It starts as early as puberty, when mum comes into the untidy room in a great mood and says: "Go outside, it's such a beautiful weather." But you want to have world pain, the sun hurts directly. Besides, isn't it only possible to really appreciate what is beautiful when you are also familiar with what is not so beautiful? Don't you only know that something is really wonderful after seeing and getting to know "the dark side of the moon"? In today's society, being in a bad mood is a blemish.
Of course, you shouldn't respond to every "How are you?" tell the whole family story right away, from grandpa's World War reports to the cousin's eating disorders, but this constant pretense that everything is really all right all the time - who should believe that? A TV presenter who's been through cancer and nasty chemotherapy talks about it like it never happened. She wouldn't want to let that spoil her mood at all. Initially enthusiastic about this optimism, I thought that this positive attitude towards life can certainly make life easier or even save it, but my feeling gave way to a certain thoughtfulness: Can it be that you really take a life-threatening illness easier just because you tell yourself, man can't change it? And aren't you allowed to be angry and scared sometimes? scream, cry?
The Instagram account "Bowelbabe" of the British presenter Dame Deborah James, who has just succumbed to her fatal illness, appears much more realistic: she was radiant in many photos, but she also showed some things that are not going so well. Said that she is afraid that she finds the thought of not seeing her children grow up unbearable. That seemed very authentic. And it's not that this woman didn't radiate enough optimism - she raised millions for colon cancer research, had children who she wanted to be there - stay alive for, dear parents, a great husband, a wonderful job, friends - and yet it wasn't enough to say: "Don't worry - be happy!" Her optimism wasn't enough as a cure. Is that why she failed? Of course not, because that fucking cancer was just stronger than her.
A popular question in the 40 to 65 age group is the question of children, our greatest prestige objects. 80 percent of the time, the question: "How is the daughter/son, what is she/he doing at the moment?" Great university, great apartment, great degree, great friends, great city, great job prospects, great language skills, great great great." One can imagine that the parents would be happy if Junior also said thank you or, except for Christmas, over would come, but no, it's all just too great.
So great, in fact, that the parents always feel "great". At the same time, one should definitely remark that the empty nest syndrome has really knocked one out, that one suddenly has a lot of time and first has to think about what to do with it. Instead: Compensation-compensation-compensation, always further, never looking back, always in a good mood, always there. It would be so sympathetic if someone would say: "Honestly, I had imagined it differently." Or: "I have to think, I have to reorganize myself." Or even: "I'm sad." But no, don't, should the others think that you're a depressive?
Not being vulnerable, not seeming inactive, not even sagging - have you ever thought about how exhausting that is for people who weren't born with a half-full glass in their hands? Who constantly ask themselves: "I could be happy, why am I not? I would have to have this job, these friends, this car, this property, and I would be as happy as the others." Because whether people want it or not: they compare themselves and definitely don't want to appear boring or unexciting. Or even annoying. That's true, of course, it's very entertaining to listen to others who are doing a lot, it's amusing, it's entertaining. But is it profound? Is that person there when you need them? Doesn't that person have better things to do than listen to you whine? Yes, that is to be feared. Nobody CAN always be in a good mood.
Nothing against American conditions, by the way: A happy "How are you?" in the supermarket, however, should really only be answered with "everything is fine". Definitely don't go any deeper, just nod, smile, and move on. But in the circle of friends, when no one can say that they were bored. That he has made a bad investment, that he feels disappointed in himself or in someone else, then it becomes worrying. So, back to normal, but how? Just admit something stupid, that really makes you human.
In every bookstore, guidebooks throw themselves at one another, lie almost obscenely with open pages in the middle of the room, impose themselves and want to "optimize" us, as if a person is only made up of win-win situations. The illusion is that if I eat the right things, look right, dress right, have the right job, quit the wrong one, I'll be happy. But isn't it the imperfection we love in others that we find charming?
Once Instagram is opened and by the way, you can't get out of this "positivity" rape. There, a young woman who looks like a child but is already 33 and has just had her fourth child gives you advice on how to flatten your stomach again, quite simply: you just have to WANT it! Ergo: If you still have a gut after three weeks, it's your own fault and don't be surprised if the others don't take you seriously. You just didn't WANT it enough!
Scrolling further, another young woman from a good family gives investment tips and her friend shows you how they just sat down with other great women at a "Ladies Only Event" and talked about time management. Result: "Time without social media is so important!" Everyone wears floral dresses and has either a laptop or a baby on their laps (except Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, equipped with wonderfully soothing Merkel attributes à la always the same pantsuit, regardless of whether it's plus or minus 30 degrees in the shade). Another keeps laughing on her account and lets you understand that you're really fine the way you are, but half a year ago - you could swear - she also had 20 kilos more on her ribs.
By the way, this whole "Everything is always wonderful" madness was summed up very nicely by a woman who looks like she has to be happy all day long, she's so beautiful, so smart and so successful. Juliane Marie Schreiber's book is called: "I'd rather not - a rebellion against the terror of the positive." By the way, Schreiber gets too much when the shower gel says: "Feel free and crazy." Admittedly, a really exaggerated task for a shower gel that is only used for personal hygiene. In the May issue of German Vogue, Schreiber writes: "The terror of happiness is not only a burden, it also has a political dimension. It blinds us to the power of circumstances. We shift social problems to a psychological, individual level." The book's author believes that most of us would rather work on our own resilience and efficiency through Be Happy teas, tree hugs and dance yourselves free seminars than once admitting, "No thanks, I can't do this ." Or even: "No thanks, I don't want that."
She also refers to those who cannot straighten everything out with a "positive mindset", because sometimes unemployment, illness, being abandoned, depression cannot simply be undone with a yoga retreat among like-minded people. Schreiber reminds us that this dark side has its place. We tend to simply overlook the negative aspects, to repress them: "Yet one insight from the earliest philosophical texts through existentialism from Sartre to Beauvoir to modern psychology is: 'Suffering is part of our existence.'"
For thousands of years, art, philosophy and religion have been the expression of a culture of overcoming pain and an important motor for social progress. Anger drives action, dissatisfaction drives the improvement of living conditions, not only personal, but also those of others. In the USA, a major counter-movement is forming, which, contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court, is again campaigning for women alone to be able to decide over their bodies, and not for a law made by men and conservatives on abortion or no abortion. It's good. That's very good.
So - don't get the wrong idea: Being positive, seeing and feeling the good, having a cheerful charisma and strength, striving for happiness, always wanting to get ahead - everything is great! But please don't act like nothing ever happened. Anyone who is terminally ill or has just become unemployed is allowed to doubt God, may also ask: "Why me?", may find the world unfair and lousy. And hope he has friends who will still listen. In this sense: "Always look on the bright side of life!"