Here at Happy City we’ve been busy reviewing our website. How do we best engage people in the exciting revolution we are a part of, namely re-aligning our economy and our society towards growing our capacity to flourish not just to consume?
Our small but growing team of communicators are grappling with these issues and the language we use. In particular one discussion point came up that we think is worth sharing: Is our aim is to shatter the LIE that the way to happiness is through more and more stuff, or to shatter the ILLUSION that it is? We had strong advocates for both approaches!
If you read our About us page now, you will see the word ‘illusion’ and I wanted to share how we got there.
A “lie” implies two important things: That the ‘lie’ is always shared knowingly and that ‘someone’ is lying to someone ‘else’.
Happy City is not naive enough to think that both these things are not sometimes the case. There are people in society, who know very well that drinking their brand of cola, buying their phone, or driving their car, won’t bring anyone happiness, but are willing, even eager to very consciously ‘lie’ to others that it will.
However it is also lazy to suggest that only such people are part of this societal ‘illusion’ that more stuff is somehow the mark of success, or happiness, or prosperity. We are ALL complicit in this. Stand up the woman or man who really only owns when they truly need to live a happy life. I shout at the radio every time I am pigeon-holed as a ‘consumer’, yet I undoubtedly consume more than I need on a daily basis.
If any of us kid ourselves that we stand on the outside of the ‘system’ and must fight to stop the ‘lying’ of those on the inside, we are letting ourselves off the hook. We are pretending that we don’t ALL have a part to play in changing how we shop, how we vote, how we invest, our time, money, skills, resources and attention. It is an illusion that we are all a part of – we are swimming in a sea of it.
We urgently need to shatter the illusion, and free ourselves from the enormous damage it is doing to our health, our happiness, our social connections and our planet. We also need to be ready to hold to account those people who do publicly and knowingly ‘lie’ about the relationship between consumption and happiness.
But let’s not make this an us and them battle – that’s too easy.
We all play a part in keeping this illusion alive, so we must all take responsibility for reminding ourselves and each other, that it is just that. Happiness is not found in a sea of endlessly unachievable consumption, but in an ocean of health, learning, purpose, belonging, connection, trust, hope and security that we can all feed into together if we invest in its many and varied tributaries.
Liz Zeidler – Chief Executive, Happy City