Leaving the Cult of Happiness | Keely Herron | TEDxJacksonHole

Leaving the Cult of Happiness | Keely Herron | TEDxJacksonHole


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Cristina Bufi-Pöcksteiner I was on a road trip recently
with one of my best friends, and we were listening
to The Tim Ferriss Show. It’s a podcast that’s been downloaded
about 80 million times, and he wrote the New York Times
best-selling book “The 4-Hour Workweek.” So, Tim is talking to Vince Vaughn,
the actor of “Wedding Crashers” fame, on the podcast, and they’re talking
about how Tim didn’t learn to swim until he was about 30 years old because, as a kid, he was bullied
at summer camp and he almost drowned, and as a result, he was deeply
traumatized and terrified of water and he just never learned to swim. And this shamed him,
he felt really bad about that. But he did eventually learn to swim,
and he talked about it. And on this particular podcast
that I was listening to, Vince was telling Tim how inspired
he was by Tim’s story of overcoming his trauma
and learning to swim. And I’m listening
to this story with my friend, driving in a car somewhere
on I-90, in South Dakota, and I say out loud, “Ooh, poor Tim Ferriss… He was bullied as a kid
and he never learned to swim, but then he did
and that was so inspiring!” (Laughter) I said that out loud. (Laughter) My friend looks at me like, “You’re a horrible person.” (Laughter) And I’m like, “Yeah… I got nothing.” (Laughter) So we just kind of turned off the podcast and sat in uncomfortable silence
for a few minutes. (Laughter) But it really bugged me, and when things really bug me,
I need to, like, lean into them and get in there and figure out why. So, a couple days later,
maybe a week later or something, I was talking with my counselor, and we were trying to figure out
why I was so bothered by this. And we came to the
conclusion that I got mad because not only
did Tim overcome his trauma and talk about it publicly, when he did, he was met with compassion, his pain was validated and, even better, someone thought it was inspiring. But that still wasn’t good enough for me. I was like, “But bullying? Really?
That’s like an acceptable trauma.” And what I mean by an acceptable trauma is acceptable traumas are things
that people can relate to. They’re things that when you say them
out loud, people know how to respond, something like a dog dying,
or losing a parent, or getting bullied as a kid. We all know that those things suck,
and we know that we’re going to go, “Oh God, I’m sorry.
That must have been really hard.” But if those are acceptable traumas,
What are unacceptable traumas? Unacceptable traumas are the things that
people can’t or don’t want to relate to, that when you say them out loud, they recoil, they grimace, they get uncomfortable, visibly. You can see it in their face. So, when I tell people
that my dad killed himself, people tend to get
a little bit uncomfortable, and I can see them squirming. And when I tell them that,
imagine what they look like when I tell them
that I was raped when I was 16, or that I was first sexually
abused when I was five. So that feeling that you might
be having right now, like, “Errr…. I don’t like that,” that’s a reaction to stigma. Stigma is a badge of shame, and sometimes it’s
a literal badge of shame, like an armband that a certain group
of people are forced to wear, or a separate bathroom that a certain
group of people are forced to use, and other times it’s more figurative, it’s more social. So, if we’re having
a conversation with someone and they bring up a subject
that we’re not comfortable with, we just don’t talk about it, we force that person to just kind of live
with that shame on their own, and they just have to kind of
suck it up and deal with it. Sexual abuse, rape, mental illness and suicide. (Laughter) These are my unacceptable
stigmatized traumas. And they’re horrible,
I would not wish them on anyone, but they’re mine and I can’t undo them,
as much as I’ve tried, believe me. I have tried and just be
like, “La la la… La la la la la.” It doesn’t work that way. So, that reaction that I had
to The Tim Ferriss Show, where I was all judgy and angry and weird, that was my trauma
and my shame popping up, like some weird trauma whack-a-mole game, like, “I’m perfect, Im perfect,”
but no, you’re not, because trauma just pops up
at weird places and embarrasses you and makes you sound like a jerk. And I started thinking
about my reaction to that, and as I was working through it, I was thinking about how I have this need
to just pretend that I’m perfect. And in Tim Ferriss’s case, his trauma seemed
like it wasn’t as bad as mine. I got out this measuring stick and I said, “His trauma isn’t as bad as mine.” But yet, when he talks about it,
he gets compassion. And when I talk about mine,
overwhelmingly, in the past, it hasn’t necessarily been
a compassionate response, where people are like, “Oh, you know,
that was so inspiring that you survived all that gross stuff.” It’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to talk
about it! Please stop talking about it.” So, I learned to not talk about it, and I learned to be as perfect
as I could possibly be, and I pursued perfection
like it was my job and I wore that perfection-like armor, and I needed you to see
the person that I wanted you to see, who I thought was perfect, because underneath
that armor of perfection, I was a hot mess. So I’m working through this
and I start to think about it, like, “Why do I need to be perfect?” Why is it that we have to only show
this happy, shiny side of ourselves and deny that there’s any problems, and oh, if there is,
like, a small problem, it’s OK to talk about it and retrospect,
like, after it’s done, and so we can all be like, “Yay,
you survived and that’s so inspiring”? But – it’s like the Hollywood ending, we can’t deal with something
that’s not wrapped up with a bow. So, like in real life, when the protagonist dies
alone in the Arctic, maybe gets eaten by a bear
or has some other tragic ending, in the Hollywood version, he marries a sweetie
and they live happily ever after. And I started to refer to this phenomenon
as the cult of happiness. So the cult of happiness
has been around forever. It’s just that now, with social media, we can project how perfect
we are to everybody, so that I think that I’m the only person that’s, like, sitting at home,
eating Pringles, while everybody else is like in Italy, posting gorgeous photos of themselves
with inspirational quotes, and all these things, and there’s like 17 hashtags, and it’s like “#blessed,” “#gratitude,” (Laughter) like, “#wisdom.” It’s like, “Oh, thank God
the universe is looking out for me on my vacation to Italy.” (Laughter) But it really bugs me
because I don’t get it. Like, I love Italy. Rome is my favorite city,
which I didn’t think it would be, but it is, actually, my favorite city. I mean, I love the happy stuff, but for me, I also have
this, like, massive dark side, and I drag it around with me everywhere. And I wish I could just
get rid of it, but I can’t, and I feel like if I were to post all
these happy, amazing things on Instagram, I’d just be an impostor. Because, you know, going back
to that whack-a-mole thing, I’m like, “Hey, look at me, I’m in Italy,” and then it’s like
these trauma things pop up and I need to just whack them down. So, meanwhile, I’m playing
this whack-a-mole and chasing perfection
and pretending I’m perfect, and meanwhile, my shame
and my trauma are just festering, like dog poop, in a Smith’s bag, (Laughter) in a Ziploc bag, in a Mason jar, that I, you know, just screw
with the top on as tight as I can, and then I just carry it around
with me and I’m like, “Oh yeah, I’m just holding
a Mason jar of poop, no big deal.” (Laughter) Pay no attention,
look away, avert your gaze. There’s no jar of poop here
that I’m carrying around. Just festering. But what if I had taken that crap, and instead of locking it up
and carrying it around with me and trying to pretend it’s not there, what if I had just laid it out in the sun, and let the wind and the rain
and the light transform it? It might not have been gone completely,
but it would have changed, and it would have become lighter. It would have been transformed. Robert Frost wrote,
“The best way out is always through.” And I have clung to that through
many, many dark nights of the soul. And during trying to work
through all this stuff, there was a lot of, like, “Why me?” Like, “Why do I have to have all these
horrible things happen to me, when everybody else is, like,
in Italy being blessed?” Stuff like, “Oh, I’m just
going to eat my Pringles.” And so, this girlfriend of mine
that I was on the road trip with, we’re still friends, even though she still
kind of thinks I’m a horrible person. She sends me this quote that says, “What if the word ‘victim’
could be redefined as something closer to ‘hero,’ so that the path some have tread
would spare others from the same?” And I thought, “Okay.
I haven’t heard that one before. ‘Hero,’ not a ‘victim,’ not a ‘survivor.’ I don’t know why
I hate that word, I just do. But a hero. So, if I’m a hero,
I should have a superpower. And if I have a superpower, I guess it’s going to be
to defeat stigma.” And as a self-proclaimed superhero, my first act in my fight against stigma is to introduce an alternative
to the cult of happiness. In the cult of compassion, all of those bright, shiny,
happy things are good, bring them on over,
totally cool, we love it, but all of those ugly,
sticky, messy things that we kind of keep out
of the cult of happiness, those are accepted too, and they’re honored,
and they’re supported, and they’re talked through and they’re transformed into something that’s maybe a little bit closer
to authentic happiness. So, I can tell my story tonight
because I’ve done a lot of work since I moved to Jackson Hole
three and a half years ago, when I just packed it all up
and decided to live the dream, because it is a dream, right? I’ve done a lot of work, and so, to spare you guys – maybe you’re not going to do
as much work as I would have done, but maybe you’ve got some work to do – But to spare you
maybe a little bit of time, I can tell you what I learned
from all of this. Listening, bearing witness
to another’s suffering, is not a passive practice. It’s an act of healing. And I have been healed by some of the people
in this room tonight, who listened to my story. They bore witness to my suffering, they didn’t reject me,
they didn’t tell me I was going to be OK. They just listened, and they didn’t judge. It works, the cult of compassion works. And all of us here can be heroes. We can work together to defeat stigma
and we can help people heal. All it takes is an open mind,
or an open heart if you’re right-brained, to shut your mouth and listen. And by listening, we can
all together change the world, because the truth is we are all broken. It’s just a question
of how much and where. And as Leonard Cohen famously sang, “There is a crack in everything.
It’s where the light gets in.” Thanks for listening. (Applause) (Cheers)

100 thoughts on “Leaving the Cult of Happiness | Keely Herron | TEDxJacksonHole

  1. A nice talk, yes, a good talk…though the beautiful people, rich people of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, may not be the audience who needs to hear it most. She's speaking to an exclusive socio-economic conclave. Sometimes, the most revealing aspect of these Ted and Tedx Talks is not the talk itself, but the context around it, such as where it's being done and/or who is doing it.

  2. life is unfair. Some people from being a child have a good start, respected by parents, and as they learn through parents self respect, they are well treated at school, no problems with learning, good jobs, no problems with money. The other people are having so hard life, from beginning. At homes abuses, later school bully, no professional help, everyone see somethng is wrong, but no one has courage to help. They have to deal on their own with so many emotional problems, their life is much more work and struggle to deal with. They have to deal with jobs, emotional, and psychological problems, with no ability to trust other people, so they have to survive on their own. I'm angry for what happened to this lady, somebody mess her life, and she had to struggle for most of her life trauma, while the others could relax and be happy. I hate those who did her a harm I really do.

  3. You’re brave and beautiful! Life is a test, stay strong. Hope you’re talking to a therapist and close friends regularly! You’re reaction was in you’re own space out of frustration so it’s fine, bullying affects mental health too n many don’t even accept bullying as a talkable subject. I understand your scenario has more stigma and it’s more sensitive and that’s why you must get professional help and have good friends like the one you have to talk to. Try and meditate and accept that many many people make mistakes, talk through your hurt! It will never go away and should be something you can talk about but try and open new chapters too…we don’t know if they’ll all be perfect..no one has guaranteed in life..but most ppl have good and bad chapters in life. If possible, forgive the abusers it will give you peace!!!! They forgot about others feelings and lost their senses..but like most ppl they weren’t perfect! Just remember you’re beautiful and intelligent and have the chance to turn it around so make the most of it!!! You’re suffering was awful n should be heard and dealt with compassionately, but thankfully is in past! Some are unfortunately trafficked and never get away. It was really awful n some days will be bad and I’m really sorry for your hurt.. just try and remember it’s in the past though n though I doubt anyone in this world is perfect and mistake free and it can feel like a lonely world..you have to try and trust again and take chances..not everyone will want to hurt you and without taking chances of trusting ppl you’ve stopped living. But you are free to choose the type of life that can make you happy!! This life wasn’t what you wanted it to be clearly..but those that believe in god or re-incarnation believe that as well as the rest of this life to live, you’ll have another chance of happiness in heaven or another life and you’ve still many years left in this life it could just end beautifully with a happy ever after and then you’ll be a true hero, that’s not always the case, but a possibility or possibly even half true! Keep faith! Lots of love xx remember your family don’t reflect you either, they’re people you trusted etc but you’re an individual soul!! Forgive with compassion and try and let go of the anger. Try and look forward and live again. Can only make the most of a hard situation, many people only want gossip or to talk about things that are everyday easy things and not anything that’s uncomfortable for them, but those close to you should know when the time is right to understand you better and the right people will give you lots of time to talk with understanding and compassion. No two people are the same in the world. Stay strong!

  4. I don't think the reaction from other people to her trauma is about shame, it's about how absolutely horrible that must've been!! And how one can't know what to say to someone gone through that.

  5. I don't like the word survivor in this case but you know what I love?? I love when I hear I want to here your story.. I want to here woman we need some wine and talk tonight or the evening.

  6. Hopefully, if you tell a therapist these kinds of things, s/he won't recoil at all and will instead be compassionately and non-judgmentally present with you as you talk or cry or get angry.

  7. Someone in our family has dealt with heavy trauma and it feels like we're not dealing with it right. She does talk about it every now and again and we find it odd and very frustrating that we're all upset and want to beat the person who got at her to a bloody pulp……but she doesn't. Why? This is an amazing video and words can't describe h o w m u c h I want everyone dealing with these traumas to have others genuinely take in what happened to them and not handle it with kid gloves.

  8. The feeling i get when watching these videos is fake news. I blame ted talks as your story may be true ted pushes alot of.propaganda that makes me second guess the validity of any thing posted.

  9. Excellent talk! She nails it with the different examples she’s using. Transparent and honest. A lot of people are struggling with this

  10. Wow this is great. Captured all I've felt but couldn't express so elegantly. The need for an inspirational story, Walmart happy faces, networking, marketing yourself. Blah. Blah. Blah.

  11. it is trauma i can relate to suicide
    but i now know that a rainy day can have a next day of sun

  12. Ah. This is true. Trauma pops up like whackamole. You are right. Sadly,unfunnily, candidly right. Accurate.
    The best way out is always threw. 😱👀❤

  13. I humbly thank you for sharing such a story, for unburdening yourself. You are sweet & you have a beautiful soul. Trust that.

  14. My father also took his own life, I know what she means 100% and it’s sort of refreshing but I feel like she could do some work herself to heal too. I found running and working out mixed with writing has kept me going. God bless all of you who are working through life and also this lady for speaking up about how she feels

  15. It seems to me that in asian cultures there's a clearer cultural acceptance and awareness of the difference between the bright, shiny, impressive outward face and the more or less flawed and dark true self. Whereas in western cultures there's less understanding or awareness that these two are not and cannot be the same, and also less acceptance of the necessary lies that make up a big part of the outwards face. But the more you interact with people's outwards faces then, (cities, occupational settings, business relations, social media), and they do with yours, as is the case in modern mass society, the more stressed out you'll be if you're unclear about what kind of game it really is.

  16. I have walked around with tears streaming down my face. When I am upset enough to cry, I don't care if you see me or not. My tears, mine.

  17. I love how honest and not overly "happy" and "thankful" she is. Finally a talk that doesn't make me feel like I'm living in The Truman Show's world!

  18. Ich weis nicht wie es ist so spät im Leben vergewaltitgt zu werden. Und was es mit dir macht wenn du dich an alles erinnern kannst. Ich wurde im Alter von 3-5 von meinem Erzeuger regelmäßig Vergewaltigt. Und mir fehlen viele Erinnerungsstücke. Wofür ich ehrlich dankbar bin. Da ich in den 16 Jahren Therapie die ich benötigt habe um die Ängste vor Männern und Dunkelheit zu uberwinden. Einfach nicht die Erinnerungen per se aufarbeiten musste sondern "nur" meine geschrädderte Seele und Panikattacken die mein Erzeuger mir verpasst hat. Das andere drum herum wie die Prügel das erniedrigen hat mich tatsächlich schlimmer emotional Verkrüppelt. So seltsam wie es klingt: Ich hasse das es passiert ist, aber ich bin dankbar das es so früh passiert ist. Macht das iwie Sinn?!

  19. So let me see if I got this, the types of trauma that happened to her, are the unacceptable kind, and all other traumas are acceptable? If that wasn't condescending enough listen carefully to the way she talks. Her open rejection of other's trauma, might be what is causing her to perceive her traumas as being rejected by society. Her subconscious is shaping her reality based on her thoughts.

  20. Sorry this is absolutely not the point of the video but at 9:33 she’s perfectly describing how I hide my weed lol

  21. I feel her. I can't share one of my biggest traumas, that l survived a suicide attempt, without making people extremely uncomfortable.

  22. Not being able to talk about serious personal pain is a big pet peeve of mine. It's already extremely hard and then getting socially ostracized for being "too negative" leads to an even greater pain: Isolation. Many of my days feel like an acting job. When I do bring it up, people recoil. That seems truly cruel to me. Why can't people just accept that truly awful experiences happen? Accidents, chronic illness, child abuse,? etc. They are real. Why ignore them? Out of cowardess? I did find solace for a time in nonprofit jobs that helped people suffering from disabilities and poverty.
    Thank God there are people out there who ask about pain, and work to alleviate it. I loved working with those people.

  23. I love this. It’s not human to be happy 100% of the time, we are going to have problems and we are going to need others to help us through it and there is nothing wrong with that. If we stop hiding from our problems and the problems of others we could vastly improve group quality of life

  24. I Love You! You are spot on, we are Twins😁😁😁😁😁👍👍👍👍👍💞💞💞💞👏👏👏👏

  25. It's not a competition! You've had terrible experiences, and yet you seem to judge others for feeling sad about their "lesser" experiences, you're still mad that the podcast guy got more sympathy than you, do you have any idea how pathetic that makes you?

  26. I have to say that, among men, bullying is NOT an acceptable trauma, and the host of that podcast was unusual in extending compassion. Boys are expected to be able to fight back, and when they can't it's seen as shameful. Mr. Ferris was subjected to something life-threatening about which he couldn't speak for shame.

  27. This lady drew me in, I couldnt exit the page, really sad and interesting and she is so strong and honest and funny. i like her voice

  28. I'm pretty sure my father invented the cult of happiness.

    It really grows into you. You can't really leave it when you're so afraid of not delivering. You want to overcome things and then blame your mind daily 'cause it holds you back, but how can it not? You've kept it in such a tight grip…

  29. Keep using your superpower! You are a friggin' hero of mine now. Sign me up for the cult of compassion, please. xxx xxx xxx

  30. Its not outside stuff. The difficulty is we are hardwired to get away from out True Essense. The good thing is self Love can be hidden , denied , but will never leave your side.

  31. I'm so proud of you. And remember you don't have to explain your journey. Only at your decision. Its been popular these days that people self impose their philosophy with shaming dogma. And it's the eeriest thing. Except for dating I with I never got into the internet. The Manifestation of the Green Meanies. I understand that when my brain was in a frenzy and I stopped and said " C'mon dark depression. And it lifted. Bob

  32. The Body Keeps the Score shows how physically trauma ends up hurting the body. It’s unprocessed grief. When you can see there is valid reason for your pain I see it doesn’t matter who else does. I believe one day mental illness will be called Body illness. It’s more accurate and there are specific things one can do to calm the body to reprogram the way it responds to the past memory.

  33. Just one big thank you, I finally feel understood on a whole new level. Even psychotherapists and social workers and all the professionells never had a clue or showed any compassion to this problem of stigmatized (or marginalized) trauma and the cult of happiness. They even followed the cult of happiness (kognitive behavioral therapy has some strains that can be very very unhealthy), by diverging your from grief and despair as feeling those feelings will "only contribute to your depression".

  34. I feel like I've always been open to listening to people vent about what they are dealing with, but I never know what to say in return because I feel like I've never experienced trauma and that I really don't have the knowledge or right to speak about it.

  35. I feel her pain. I didn't cringe or recoil i understand it. I went through similar problems and when i tell somebody they do recoil and try to hide it or not talk about it.

  36. Resonates with me 100% …
    For me I have come to speak of these things over the years … perhaps artfully, part of any perfection I imagine.
    I feel that whether I am up or down, I kind of push people into understanding … by refusing to be invisible, but also framing every word for the best possible effect for the most people who hear me. A perfectiony kink of mine.
    Including the uncomfortable, the dark …
    If 'it' comes up I will say the truest most edifying thing from my POV and expect the people to deal with it …I extend myself to educate Society as I go along … because I can … and it might make it easier for future 'misfits' and whatnot …
    If anybody is growing, healing, doing therapy … it helps them to be HEARD the most …
    It takes courage to work certain things out … respect the effort …
    Everything said was spot on.

  37. I am an empathetic listener. I listen to hear, understand, and feel your pain your expressing. So personally, I don’t understand the “😬Ahh I don’t want to talk about it😬.” Basically, I’m the best friend anyone could ever ask for💁🏼‍♀️😂.

  38. Keep on healing you a perfect I my eyes as in our Creator . Hope you are finding your happiness in the healing of sharing . The Creator that’s greater than all working through you to heal others. You are a beautiful creation fulfilling your purpose. Thank you thank you.

  39. People don't want to take the time and effort to be compassionate to others in need, they are always on this Magical thinking kick, and believe people get what they deserve. So in other words they got something bad in their life because they weren't happy enough. This is some weird type of corporate thinking to keep people down and out. Sad we should be able to talk about our problems and concerns and help each other.

  40. I have different burdens but I've trudged through life like you. Some issues have been dealt with others are still waiting. Bless you and thank you for sharing!

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