Facebook is wonderful. Friends post news stories, funny links, and often inspirational gems. One link someone posted purports to be the secret to happiness; if you can do what this post says, you will be happy! All you have to do is give up 15 things: 15 Things you should give up to be happy.
1. Give up your need to always be right.
2. Give up your need for control.
3. Give up on blame.
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk.
5. Give up your limiting beliefs.
6. Give up complaining.
7. Give up the luxury of criticism
8. Give up your need to impress others.
9. Give up your resistance to change.
10. Give up labels.
11. Give up on your fears.
12. Give up your excuses.
13. Give up the past.
14. Give up attachment.
15. Give up living your life to others’ expectations.
Most of these are pretty self-explanatory. Giving up attachment, the post points out, does not mean giving up your love for others and your desire to help. To me it’s the capacity to detach from the context and understand it all in perspective.
Yet as I contemplate the list I started to think about how these sorts of ideas and messages are being spread on Facebook and other forms of social media, and where that might lead. I went to the website for “purposefairy.” It turns out that it is the work of a Romanian born woman named Dana. The last post appears to be almost a year old (the one linked above). Other posts are mostly lists, like this one detailing what happy people do differently than unhappy folk.
The comments on the most recent post are almost all from within the last couple weeks. There are 189 comments, only five seem to come from a time close to when the list was posted. That means that her post on happiness probably started getting spread on Facebook just a few weeks ago — most of them were just in the last week. She’s shifted focus from a blog to social media, and the ideas have taken off.
The purposefairy’s facebook page is liked by 16,557 people at this point. The image atop this blog post was taken from her facebook cover photo. She often posts links to past blog entries, keeping those messages alive,
There are similarities between the purpose fairy and “Empathic guidance” a woman named Sharon who also has a facebook page. I’ve been reading her blog for some time. She mixes inspirational facebook ideas with a more sophisticated commentary about the state of the world/humanity on her blog.
She has inspirational images like this:
Empathic Guidance sees the world starting an era of transformation, and she connects personal change with global change. It’s a powerful mix. Purposefairy is more focused on advance on relationships and personal well being. Whereas Empathic Guidance is listed under “community”, Purposefairy is under “health and wellness.” Empathic guidance is liked by 1195 people, less than Purposefairy, but her facebook page started recently, January 24, 2012. Purposefairy’s began on February 23, 2011.
My point? I think Empathic Guidance (or Empathy 2012) is right that something is changing. I also believe that Facebook and other forms of social media are only starting to have an impact by spreading ideas and connecting people across boundaries. The boundaries can be geographical, cultural or temporal — across generations. Empathic Guidance alikens this to an “awakening,” and that seems a good metaphor. People are starting wake up!
Most of the time people think about the political or community/social aspects of social media. You stay in contact with friends, you can build connections for political action, and campaigns tweet and twitter. But spreading messages about psychological well being, seeing the world from a different perspective, and emphasizing human ethics is a powerful counter to the way messages of consumerism, envy and blame have created self-defeating thinking.
People have started to see themselves as victims in a cold world where one struggles to find meaning and contentment. Discontent and dissatisfied, unable to find true joy in the competitive materialism of the modern world, people too often try to find something to blame for perceived deficiencies in their lives. People blame their boss, their job, their spouse, their kids, the ‘system’ (the right blames big government, the left blames capitalism), big business, the poor, the rich…everyone but themselves. Yet where we have real power is in our own lives, and our own thoughts.
So I’ll finish by quoting Purposefairy:
Everything that happened to us until now, happened because of the choices we made, because of our actions, and everything we have felt, we felt because of how we chose to process everything that came our way, because of our attitudes toward everything and everyone, and whatever we choose to focus our attention in this moment, and whatever actions we choose to take, will eventually determine how our life will look in the next days, weeks, months and maybe years. It’s not faith, it’s not bad luck, it’s not the horrible people that keep showing up in your life… it’s only you. You and your perceptions, you and your attitude toward life, and toward every single person you encounter with. You see, our attitude toward all of them will eventually determine their attitude toward us, and how they will choose to treat us, while at the same time, our attitude toward life will determine life’s attitude toward us.
Though my blog focuses on politics, I think there is more going on. Even if the economic and the political news seems distressing, there is also a growth of positivity, the rumblings of an awakening that can change the world for the better. That gives me optimism for the future.