Prescribed Happiness

In a letter of advice for James Harmon’s book, Take My Advice, Arthur Nersesian writes about the ideas our society has for happiness and success.  He argues that most people try to fit in to pre-defined ideas of success, and that we strive for an image of happiness set by things that influence us. Nersesian writes, “I think a lot of people feel unhappy because they don’t fit into prescribed notions of happiness.”
In Nersesian’s quote I see the importance of looking for our own path, and finding our true desires rather than following the ideas that society prescribes to us.  I am currently reading a book written by Colin Wright in which he explains that we have many things that influence us such as our parents, the media we consume, advertisements, and people around us.  What Wright argues, and I think Nersesian would agree with, is that these influences shape our desires and world views to fit what others want in our lives, as opposed to what we want in our lives.
Nersesian in his letter explains that we should not try to judge other people’s success by how well they fit into these prescribed notions of happiness or success. Advertisements and television shows would paint a picture of success that equals lots of money, good looks, and a sports car. At the same time, the images of happiness that bombard us through media and social media paints a picture of exciting trips, unique experiences, and a fully checked off bucket-list.  If we spend all our effort trying to reach these ideas of success and happiness then we are forgetting to ask ourselves what we actually want.  By turning inward and understanding what is important to us and why, we can begin to journey towards our own form of happiness without the pressure to be happy in the way that society envisions for us.

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