More often than I like I read “advice” that makes me sigh. In today’s one-sentence statement Instagram culture, we often lack nuance. Posts with crap life advice that are supposed to empower, do the exact opposite in reality— as they are blameful, short-sighted, or lack context.
Here are some of my favorite unfavorites:
Follow Your Passion
If only it was that easy… NOT. Of course, it’s super important to do things that you are passionate about. But this is not a magic problem solver. It doesn’t help someone who feels stuck in an important aspect of their life. You have to do more than simply follow your passion. It requires figuring out why you feel stuck in the first place: which values are not being met? And why is it hard to get unstuck: which thoughts or fears are keeping you put? Creating real change requires a level of awareness first. Telling people to just follow their passion is not taking them seriously. It’s just crap life advice.
Happiness Is A Choice
I hate this one especially when it’s accompanied by a picture of a person laughing out loud. This saying from Buddha is often misinterpreted when taken out of its deeper spiritual context. Unless you are far on your path of enlightenment, you probably experience happiness as an emotion, just like sadness. It is impossible to feel the happy emotion all the time. We all have peak and valley moments. And that is OK. It’s healthy even. Imagine that you could not be sad about things like loss or disappointment. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for feeling crappy at times.
In the case of chronic unhappiness, depression, please see a mental healthcare specialist. Coaches are usually not trained to help in this arena. What qualified coaches CAN help you with is opening up to new, more positive perspectives. Coaching can also help you in making deliberate choices from purpose, which helps you to live a more fulfilling life.
But even in a fulfilling life, moments of sadness and pain are likely to happen. Because it requires a lot of training in mind control to maintain equanimity in any situation. Human craving and aversion lead to attachment, which is considered the source of unhappiness in Vipassana meditation practice. The spiritual practice is beautiful and very powerful. In this context, the statement makes a lot of sense. In the context of most of our day-to-day life: crap life advice.
Control Your Life
Good luck with that one! If one thing is uncontrollable, it’s life. Things out of our control that impact our lives happen all the time. Thinking that you can control your life is an illusion. What you can do, is work on acceptance of those things you cannot control, and look for opportunity in the things you can influence. Take charge of your actions and responses to situations. Be like a surfer. They don’t control the waves, but they accept the wave the way it comes and take charge of their actions to surf that wave the best way possible.
Don’t Like Your Job? Just Quit!
Wait, WHAT? Quitting is not always the solution to problems! First, take some time to listen and understand what is going on. Figure out what the real problem is so you can work on the root cause. And sure, if you’re really in the wrong job, then quitting can be the right thing — but you probably need to work on a transition plan! A good coach will never give you this crap life advice but helps you with your plan to transform into a more fulfilling future.
There Is No Such Thing As Luck
Of course there is! If you can’t see how you are lucky with all that you are given and be grateful for it, you might be looking at the world as a negative force to fight in order to create success or happiness. An eternal fight that’s always focused on what’s next, never on seeing what’s already here without you having to fight for it. This viewpoint is also quite polarised: you win or you lose.
But sometimes shit happens… To all of us. No matter your fight. People who recognize their luck and focus on the positive side of their life, are much more likely to be resilient in these situations. They can see the situation for what it is, accept it, and have compassion towards themselves. They choose the best possible action and go with the flow, instead of fighting against it. People who are grateful can see their lucky gift in even the unluckiest situations.
What do you think about these statements? And do you have any crap life advice you’d like to debunk?