Hungry For Happiness

Hungry for Happiness…

This phrase has been stewing in me for a long time now. I noticed it on a paper liner for the plastic serving trays at an Arby’s restaurant a while back. It was a slogan for their foundation’s fundraising campaign to end childhood hunger. They were approaching the phrase from the perspective that if kids were not hungry, they were free to be happy.

While ending childhood hunger is a noble and worthy mission, I have a different take on “Hungry for Happiness.” Hungry for Happiness is essentially the thesis of Happy Calories Don’t Count (neither does unhappy exercise)! We only want what we want – including the body shape or size we want – because we think having it will make us happy. And much of the pain and drama we suffer with respect to food, exercise, our bodies and our weight is a result of our misguided efforts to sate our happiness hunger.

And it gets even more intriguing. I have a habit of deconstructing the marketing messages behind advertising – especially television commercials and magazine ads. Do you know what I notice? Many of the advertisements for foods or beverages that would ordinarily be considered “bad” in the health conscious, diet and exercise world, appeal to our “hunger” for happiness! For instance, Golden Corral’s slogan is “Help Yourself to Happiness!” Nutella’s slogan for their jar of hazelnut chocolate deliciousness is “Spread the Happy!” A local ice cream company touts their product as “Handcrafted Happiness.” Even Coca-Cola chimed in – treading on my own brand – claiming that a can of Coke was “140 Happy Calories.” It’s as if they are saying, “Forget those diet rules! Come enjoy life! Eat or drink this and be happy!”

And it gets more interesting!! The weight-loss industry markets to our “hunger” for happiness too! Some programs sell the idea that getting to your goal weight will make you happy – so they will do everything they can to support you in that journey. Some programs sell the idea that you can get to your goal weight while eating indulgently (and therefore, somehow be happy). From the austere “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” to the magic pills that supposedly let you eat anything and everything you want (and not exercise), the weight loss industry fundamentally markets to our hunger for happiness.

So if everyone is marketing to our hunger for happiness, why do we still have so much pain and drama around food and our weight? Well in my humble opinion it is because we believe the marketers. We believe that there is some external source or end result that will make us happy. And as long as we are chasing happiness, we will never find it.

When we can relax into the present moment and look into ourselves, we can see that we always have the choice to be happy. Happiness is not something someone (or something) else can give us. Happiness is a choice we must make for ourselves – it is something that only we can give ourselves. And when we choose happiness, we have sated our deepest hunger.