*WARNING: Not tested on humans. May not be any more effective than the Old Secrets of Happiness. May cause weight gain. May contain traces of irony. Do not read while operating heavy machinery.
So you tried old-school self help and your life still looks like it always has. You Awakened the Giant Within, but it was promptly slapped down in a gang fight with your boss, banker and landlord. You Found Your Why, but lost it again under a pile of crap the kids left lying around. And you down-shifted to the 4-Hour Work Week, but that just added 60 hours extra work to the following week. Nothing helped.
The Problem With Self Help
Luckily, I’ve figured out the problem: traditional self help is outdated and useless in the Brave-emoji New World we live in. We just don’t have the life-space, attention span or processing time to waste on old-school concepts like purpose or contentment. We need self help tailored for this goldfish-attention-span, #moreblessedthanyou, technology-will-fix-it, modern era. Fortunately, the new secrets to happiness are right in front of us.
The Four New Secrets to Happiness
One: Mobile Phones Are Handheld Happiness
Smartphones are one of the new keys to happiness, despite the fact they are universally love-hated by everyone who’s attention has strayed too close to its event horizon only to disappear through its portal, emerging minutes (or was it hours?) later, blinking and disorientated.
Smartphones are hands-down the greatest modern invention since the credit card (which lets you buy shit without money – what’s not to love?). Smartphones gives us access to the sum total of the world’s knowledge, meaning we never have to lose at trivia night again.
Our mobile little status symbols house an endless supply of games, movies, gossip and footage of people doing dumb shit. We never have to be bored again or go through the laborious process of firing up the imagination in our old calorie-fuelled brain.
These stylish little devices come with a universe of lifestyle apps we can download at a whim to get onboard with the latest health and fitness trends without the tedious business of having to actually eat right or exercise.
We can even use our smartphones to send tiny messages to each other so we can share every splutter of our synapses and every emoji we feel we should feel but don’t actually have time to feel.
Smartphones also give us something to do at social events so we can avoid those awkward moments when we’re obliged to talk to people.
Not convinced yet? How about this: you can make phone calls on them.
Two: Social Media Will Make You Happy
Yep, social Goddamn media is one of the new secrets of happiness. I hear you ask, “But, isn’t social media full of try-hard, trout-face, douche puppets banging on about how #amazing their lives are?”
Well, yes it is. In fact, it’s almost entirely populated with these braggy fudge muppets.
That’s because these people, like us, are modern humanity, and social media is the electronic equivalent of a town hall meeting or longhouse feast or chatting over the back fence. It just has more selfies. And the meeting place is global in scale. And everyone is stealing your private information to manipulate you into buying more shit you don’t need.
But apart from that it’s exactly the same.
So social media brings people together, and that brings happiness.
The genius of social media is that it also tells you precisely how happy you are.
It acts as a scoreboard. It helps us judge our place in the world relative to our peers (who only brought that ski boat because you got the jet ski). Helpfully, we can also score ourselves against people right around the world. This helps us aspire to levels of selfie-saturated happiness achieved by pop culture role models, such as the Kardashians.
Three: Donald Trump Will Make the World Happy (After He Destroys It)
I know this one will be controversial, but fuck it. You’ll see I’m right – you just need to go numb and let it happen.
You’ll find “President The Donald” makes a lot more sense when you give in to the post-truth, emoji-logic, surreal politik world we’ve made for ourselves. Just relax and let it wash over you.
It might help if I give you some context on how The Donald became the logical choice for leader of the free world.
The cause of this weirdness is economic, but it’s not complicated. The logic goes like this: when the economy is good, we’re content; when the economy is bad, we’re angry; when we’re angry, we want to blame someone; our favourite people to blame for everything bad in our lives is the government.
So we blame mainstream politicians (often correctly) when they are unable to find quick fixes to turn around a flailing economy and provide the job security and rising wages that pay for all the crap we insist we need.
We then become easy pickings for fringe or populist politicians promising quick-fix solutions.
We think, “Fuck it, why not vote for this ass-clown, we’ve got nothing to lose”.
Then the craziness begins.
The last comparable economic downturn – the Great Depression of the 1930s – turbo-charged populism and produced the likes of Hitler and Mussolini. We shouldn’t be surprised, this time round, that populist governments are springing up in Europe and that the US has produced President The Donald.
While President Trump Inc might be causing unhappiness right now with his divisive, needlessly provocative, Twidiot policies (unless you’re a Trump supporter, in which case you’ll be dancing the do-si-do with your mother-girlfriend), his methods will eventually lead us to a happy place.
Populism in the 1930s eventually led to the longest period of peace and prosperity in history. Global happiness! Of course, there was the small matter of World War II beforehand, but this is not the type of thing to concern the Trump Administration.
So focus on the long term. Just over the horizon, beyond the four horsemen of the apocalypse, is a peaceful, happy world. In the meantime, try to go numb.
Four: The Joy of Socks
Darn right, new socks. This is not a ‘simple pleasures’ thing or an ‘appreciate the small things’ thing. I’m saying new socks are one of the new secrets to happiness. You heard it here first.
Google ‘the joy of socks’ and you’ll get over 48 million hits describing the many and varied ways the simple sock brightens lives (and we don’t just mean for teenage boys who do unspeakable things into them while drooling over Victoria’s Secret lift-outs).
The Google search includes results from the likes of New Scientist, which says even ancient Egyptians enjoyed a good pair of feet skivvies.
Socks aren’t just for keeping your tootsies warm when you’re tiptoeing through the musky passageways of your pyramid. There are socks for all occasions: work, sport, formal occasions. Socks can even be sexy if we liberalise the definition to include ladies’ stockings and the discerning gentleman’s cock sock.
To ‘walk a mile in another man’s shoes’ is about more than simply getting a one-mile head start on the dude who’s shoes you’re stealing.
It’s about invoking empathy in your fellow man. Empathy, as you know, is one of the keys to happiness.
These days, we can gender diversify the old adage so that women too can partake in the fetishtic pastime of wearing another dude’s shoes. We can also broaden the truism to include socks.
There is a special kind of bond between people who have willingly shared foot sweat. Clearly, the pathway to happiness should be walked in thy neighbour’s socks.
There you have it, the four thoroughly modern keys to happiness.
If you need more happiness in your life, put down the self-help books, pull on a pair of your neighbour’s socks, get out your smartphone, check your social media feed and wait for the coming of World 2.0.