Our Addiction to Happiness
The only thing that will get us to a constant state of happiness is peace
Advertising is a helluva catalyst to make you question why you aren’t happy all the time. Think about it, how the hell did Coke get everyone in the world to associate a sugary carbonated beverage = fun times, good memories, peace and love with the world. It’s incredible. It’s psychology poking at basic human nature of desire (to be happy, to be liked, to have things). And it’s working, a little too well.
As a former art director at one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, let me break down the advertising industry for you:
Brands go to advertising agencies, hand over a bunch of money and say “I need you to get people to like me.” Advertising agencies then pay teams of people a tiny fraction of that money to come up with relatable headlines that target certain demographics of people (yes, you’re just a statistic). Agencies figure out what they’ll say, what it’ll look like, to whom they’ll say it, how the brand will be perceived, where to place it, what reach and frequency they’ll get, and project their return on investment (ROI). They’ll do focus group testing where they ask a few people in the target demographic what they think and pay them for their opinion. They’ll A/B test, which means launching two similar but slightly tweaked layouts or headlines to see which ones attract customers better. They’ll use color theory to change the color of the BUY NOW buttons on their website to make sure it draws your eye right to it. This is all down to a science. All to get you to purchase things from them.
Have you ever thought that the person writing the headline for a life insurance company might be a 23-year-old intern?
Here’s the cool thing about social media and the internet, digital space is so cheap to “rent” that you’re flooded constantly by even the smallest brands that can afford to put their product in your face every few pixels [reach], if you see something enough [frequency], you’ll start liking it. An acquired taste, if you will.
And since the invention of AdBlock (which I use all the time, I don’t like ads much either, even when I was in the industry), brands have turned to sponsoring and writing content (called “native articles”) and publishing them on sites as if it were news. Literally—native articles are articles written by a brand that’s meant to trick you into thinking it’s unbiased. The general population usually won’t distinguish between the two. It’s kind of on par with product placement but at a whole ‘nother level.
“Word-of-mouth” advertising has been the sought after trophy from all brands in the history of ever. Why? Because they don’t pay anything for it. Friends posting pics at a music festival? Free advertising for that band/show/venue/festival. Coworker tell you of a cool new restaurant you have to try? This weekend. Someone posts a pic of a cool new tech gadget? Buys on Amazon immediately. Does it make you slightly jealous? Subconsciously, yes. Does it make you happy to get those things? Only for a short while. We’ve got a few million unpaid brand influencers hard at work here, which is an incredible new norm.
Here’s the reality: Nothing is free anymore. The news can’t even be trusted. Everything is paid for. Someone is capitalizing off of every single click you make. We’re working our butts off to buy all these cool things that’ll “make us happy.”
PS I’m not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, especially if you enjoy all of these things. I just want everyone to be aware of what they’re reading and how it can very much influence how you live life, chasing after the next thing and such.
Remember: People don’t speak unless they have something that they want to be agreed with. Even I have intentions with writing this article. What I want is world peace. And I want you to get on board with me so we can make this thing happen in our lifetime, but it starts with achieving peace for our “self.” Actual peace doe. None of this beer yoga stuff.
So, then, what is happiness?
In my own experience, happiness is the by-product of doing things for others. It begins with peace with yourself, peace with others, peace with the fact that you and everyone you know will die some day, peace with the past, and peace with the future. It starts with having very little and appreciating the things that come into your life and the fact that you may not live to see tomorrow. It comes from acceptance and understanding of all things and beings in this world. Acceptance of all states of mind, states of opinions, states of being, materials, acceptance of all change, for yourself, and especially for others. It comes from helping others, lending an ear to those who need someone to listen, finding a cause to pour your heart into to see someone else flourish.
Happiness is the natural drug that makes you remember why life is so beautiful, it’s why we want it all the time. If we force ourselves to get there, bypassing the “at-peace-with-self” stage, via music festivals, booze, drugs, 2-day shipping, etc and conditioning ourselves to maintain that level at all times, the end result will be depression when we don’t feel that high and are constantly seeking it. We’re all happiness addicts.
If anyone tells you need to buy something to make you happy, they’re being untruthful. Buyer beware.
Honesty with yourself and nature and peace at all times. That’s it. That’s how you open yourself up to the universe. Everything else is in the world is a bonus :), that is, if you aren’t expecting other things to give you happiness.
With love & the truth,
Jess Churchill is a writer-and-human-in-progress. About ten months ago, she gave up on the system in place and has been searching for one that makes sense, so she moved to Bulgaria and is watching the West implode from afar. She started questioning everything about life and decided to do what any troubled individual would, start an advertising agency that does 100% pro bono work for non-profits. Catch her on Instagram making a fool out of herself and posting some terrible art.