I spent several hours reading reviews on Adam Phillips. An English psychoanalyst, literary critic and somewhat of a philosopher, but not your typical one. I came across him by sheer "luck", and the little I read, piqued my interest enough to go research most of his works. I was delighted with some of the findings.
I suppose my delight came from the fact that here is an "authority" reiterating what I have always believed, on some intuitive level, namely that we live by modern myths, and through modern myths...myths that in the end contribute to our misery...
I can't go through all the reviews here, but I will mention a few headings that are of particular relevance and will elaborate by adding my own thoughts...
Myth no.1 - The pursuit of Happiness.
Happiness cannot be pursued. What you pursue eludes you. Happiness is being marketed as some product you can eagerly wish for and if you have the right means you can end up buying it. This is one of the greatest fallacies of modern times.
Happiness is not a goal, happiness is a by-product. A by-product of living a life that is in accordance with one's deepest values and meaning. In order to find out what one's own personal values are, some soul searching is necessary. In order to infuse meaning into one's life, the first question to pose - is what do you want to do with your life ?
I personally believe once you do what is aligned with your true self, happiness is an automatic byproduct.
Myth no.2 - Relationships are the new God.
With the development of the secular state and the loss of a vertical connection to a God, relegating any form of religious beliefs to the background, relationships, in particular with the opposite sex have replaced the Divinity. The other becomes your center. In fact the vertical is replaced with the horizontal, not necessarily in sexual terms alone.
It is of no wonder that tons of literature are devoted as how to make relationships "work". The fact of the matter is that you can only do so much to make a relationship work. After a certain point, if it does not work, it does not work and no amount of "investing" in the relation will make it work. The idea that relationships are meant to last for ever and ever, like an infinite God, is the basic belief upon which the relationship myth is based.
This does not mean that we should all separate and go our own ways, but rather become aware that as long as we have forfeited our own center, we are bound to be disappointed by this new idolized god of Relationships.
This brings me to Myth no.3 and is very related to the Relationship God - which is - a Happy Family is Conflict-Free
It is assumed in pop literature, that life and relationships ideals with particular reference to the family are devoid of conflict. We shun conflict as any conflict is a threat to our ego, our sense of security. And we associate conflict with lack or loss of love. In fact, it is quite the opposite...
Love is often associated with some sentimentalized idealized feeling. Love is not a sentiment, love is a way of life and life contains conflicts by its very nature.
Wishing for a different family so one can feel that sentimentalized love, is one of the hardest myths to break and lies at the core of our unhappiness. Any relationship entails attraction and repulsion. This is a FACT. Any relationship will have a mixture of love, kindness, hatred and cruelty. Love is when you have lived through all the opposites of a particular relation and finally accept the other. This is of particular relevance to family, because one assumes (rightly or wrongly) that you can choose a partner but you can't choose your family. So basically accepting your family for what it IS and not for what you have always secretly or not so secretly wished it to be, will free you. And in that freeing you will be happy.
I will continue later...