The pressure for happiness or to ‘be happy’ can be overwhelming in today’s social media driven society. Yet our quest to experience this emotion at every moment has an unintended consequence, making us feel worse rather than better. As human beings, we’ve been gifted with a wide range of emotions, all of which serve us in different ways and work as fantastic guides to which areas of our lives need the most attention. We may not fully know our true purpose for being here on this planet, but it’s likely that our soul has entered Earth in the hopes of learning more about ourselves and bettering our connections with other people. The human experience is perfect for this, and while it may seem hard at times, we are gifted daily with many opportunities to further our growth.

Within the human experience we’re tested, especially in this era of deceit, where images are being shoved in our faces of emotions we desire to feel; love, passion, acceptance, and happiness, to name a few. At the core of our existence lies a simple expression of who we are, which is Love, and many believe this translates into never ending happiness and bliss.  Corporations recognize this desire and use it to their marketing advantage. If we’re told we can feel good, at least for a day, we’re likely to (quite literally) buy into that dream because we have forgotten that our daily emotions, both good and bad, are necessary for our personal growth.

You’re likely familiar with the works of Steve Cutts, a London-based illustrator who aptly depicts our daily grievances and society’s many shocking truths that we absurdly accept as normal. In his most recent animation short titled “Happiness,” Steve uses rats to  symbolize the rat race we’re all so familiar with.

You’ll soon see other startling similarities — a clearly depressed, overcrowded society surrounded by ads guaranteeing happiness via cologne, clothes, film, and drugs. You may watch this and recognize these behaviours in others, but consider whether you have fallen victim to them as well. “Feeling down? Nothing a glass of red wine won’t fix.” When we search for happiness in external things, we soon have a real problem that nothing material or external can fix. See, all that is ever offered to us are ‘quick fixes’ to problems that have been festering for years. Steve accurately portrays our need for feeling happy and shows we will do and buy practically anything to ensure we can feel that emotion all the time — a futile struggle that leaves us depleted and miserable.

Happiness can be attained every day, and there is no need to spend money trying to feel it. Spend time with family and friends, read a good book, try something new, meditate, journal — these all bring true happiness, and may help you discover why you seek to escape your other feelings through material goods.