Buvette Masthead

Are you Happy As?

Lisa Portolan

Everyone wants to be happy, but is the relentless quest for that elusive state of being actually making us unhappy?

After a lifetime spent actively searching for happiness as well as studying it, communications executive and yogi Lisa Portolan shares valuable insights into how we made happiness a science and an industry, created products around it and supported it with a whole heap of advertising to ensure that works, but is ‘brand me’ just a recipe for unhappiness?

Ahead of her appearance at Muse Canberra this Sunday 24 June, Lisa shared an excerpt of her new book, Happy As, with us.

There’s nothing new about our current obsession with happiness, beauty, self, success and perfection.

The Greeks were discussing and welding these concepts together thousands of years ago. Perhaps, what’s different about it is our potentiality to amplify these concepts, to participate in them, to shape, but also be defined by them through social and digital media. The Greeks were confined to their pocket of the Mediterranean; on the other side of the world in the sub-continent and Asia, diverse concepts of fulfilment, happiness and self were being debated. Ideas and concepts around the fundamentals of the human psyche and emotions were developed and flourished, somewhat in isolation, and it would be hundreds of years before the two cross-pollinated.

Today, the power of social and digital media allows us to be in contact with the rest of the world real-time. Hegemonic concepts of beauty, happiness, success, fulfilment, rain down on our newsfeeds on a daily basis. They’re entrenched in every motion, every thought, our virtual psyche.

So let’s be truthful here: What does happiness really mean for you?

I could have a stab at it – success, money, good looks, a banging body, a stable mind, a great personality, respect from our peers, and a level of celebrity.

Does that sound about right?

Lisa Portolan

I can hear you grinding your teeth as you read those words – because we don’t want to admit that’s the case. We all want to think that we’re highly evolved individuals, not affected by the latest blonde bombshell Insta-celebrity (who hasn’t eaten since 2009). She informed us that the secret to her flat stomach is ‘matcha tea’. We would like to believe we didn’t even bat an eyelid at the ‘a day in the life of (insert CEO name)’ article in a glossy magazine that we recently read, espousing their perfectly amalgamated life, so glossy it almost hurts to look…no, we weren’t affected by that either.

Repeat after me, ‘I will not buy that matcha tea.’

Again, repeat after me, ‘I will not buy the moisturiser said CEO indicated he used every morning in his pseudo-advertorial article, in a desperate bid to have a life like his, and of course, the gleaming, unblemished visage portrayed in the magazine.’

We like to believe we’re not affected by it. We like to think we’re far more than all of it …

F*ck it, admit it. Go on you. It’ll be between you and me.

Our idea of happiness and of self-has become twisted up between, celebrity, advertising, social media, self-esteem and identity. It’s an unholy mix. Like a mojito gone horribly wrong. We think we can buy stuff and create an identity which will eventually equate to happiness. Some might think it’s a pithy way to describe our pursuit for happiness, and may criticise those that have bought into the happiness mojito without realising they’re part of it themselves.

Don’t stress, the Greeks were doing it hundreds of years ago – so it’s hardly a burden that only you and I need to shoulder.

Like I said, awareness is half the battle.

Please don’t buy that matcha tea.

the essentials 

What: Lisa Portolan in conversation with Sheena Ireland
When: Sunday 24 June from 3 – 4 pm
Where: Muse Canberra, under East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston
Tickets: $12, includes a glass of house wine or soft drink
Website: musecanberra.com.au/events/2018/6/24/lisa-portolan-happy-as

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