Social Norms and Values: We Can Find Happiness | Happy Now!
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Social norms and values can be a good thing, but what about when they hold us back, and imprison us in misery? Do you know how they even affect your daily life? You might be surprised at how the things we do are governed by social norms.
Norms and Rules. We often think of the laws that govern our society as the only ways in which we are held hostage and forced to conform, but what about social norms? Since most people would resist laws that touched their personal lives, those in power have always used the rule of shame to control the masses. Tragically, these very norms are used to coerce people into conforming, but not always in a positive manner. Society shuns the outcast, often whose only sin is to be true to his or her own nature. So, we are sold a great many lies that shape our lives and unconsciously force us into situations, social unions, and traditions that do not always bring us any enduring happiness.
In some respects, society is against self-education and self-actualisation. Governments, and those who control the masses, do not want ‘clever’ people; they want sheep who follow without question. Society is largely driven by those in power, and its members are brainwashed into what is best for the elite. This is nothing new, and it is prevalent in all civilisations and cultures.
Educated people don’t take ‘no’ for an answer, and they become rebellious. No form of governance wants this, so higher education is discouraged unless it benefits those in charge, and does not challenge the status quo.
Recently, I was asked by a brilliant young mind why there were no courses on how to be “healthy and happy in schools.” Of course, we should have these as standard subjects, but for the most part, it is sadly lacking. Some of the valid reasons for this are:
- Special Education. Teachers need to have a minimum of qualification in psychology or counselling before they are allowed to advise and teach these subjects. It takes a lot of patience and training to be able to advise the youth. You do not want some horrible person screwing with young minds;
- The Cost Aspect. It is expensive to train existing staff or to have dedicated professionals on call. Teachers aren’t paid enough as it is, I’m afraid. Finally;
- The Burden of Responsibility. Looking after the mental health of children and teenagers is an enormous responsibility. It’s not like teaching children a language, maths, or science. Not all teachers are even suited for this sort of task.
For the most part, it’s simply that no one places much emphasis on happiness. The subject of happiness is not seen as a tradeable commodity, and is therefore ignored. You don’t have to be happy; you need to be rich and successful.
I would suggest that parents begin asking principals, and those in charge at their children’s school, this same question. If a young mind is already asking for this, perhaps it is time for the adults to take notice. Make those in charge give you an answer. If enough people request mental health care at schooling level, we will see a change. Children should speak out to their parents too. Perhaps they can get a team together to make local changes at their school.
One of the most damaging norms society sets is that in order to be happy, you must be married by a certain age, and produced several offspring directly thereafter. In order to have a family, we are pushed into creating a suitable nest for the household, and this often implies debt. Far too many people are getting married for lack of something better to do. If that were not bad enough, next arrive the children so that their peers don’t think that there is something wrong with them.
Of course, happiness is not something that can be forced, and therein lies the true reason why so many people are divorced. Things were not always better in the old days. They were much worse because people were trapped between a choice of being shunned, or remaining in a miserable situation. Where is the happiness in that?
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