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Unhappy Individualism & The Social Self


Bright orange and red umbrella in a sea of black umbrellas on a rainy day.

In today's society, the value of individualism is often emphasized - the idea that personal happiness and success are defined primarily by individual effort and achievement. However, despite the many freedoms this approach offers, it has been shown time and time again that it also has a downside. Many people feel isolated and unhappy when they focus too much on their individual well-being and neglect the importance of community and togetherness. This is where the interdependent concept of happiness comes in, offering an alternative view that is deeply rooted in many cultures.


What is the interdependent concept of happiness?

The interdependent happiness concept is based on the idea that our well-being is closely linked to the well-being of those around us. It emphasizes the importance of cultivating harmonious relationships, working for the common good, and seeing ourselves as part of a larger social fabric. This concept is reflected in many Asian cultures, where the well-being of the group is often considered more important than that of the individual.


The social self and its meaning

The social self refers to how we see ourselves through the eyes of others and how this perception influences our behavior and decisions. In a community that supports the interdependent concept of happiness, the social self is not seen as a restriction of personal freedom, but as an enrichment of one's life through involvement in the community. Awareness and recognition of the needs and well-being of others contribute to leading a more fulfilling and meaningful life.


The pitfalls of extreme individualism

In extremely individualistic societies, where there is a strong focus on personal independence and self-actualization, people tend to feel isolated from others. Studies show that such societies often have higher rates of depression and social anxiety. An excessive focus on the individual self can lead to a neglect of interpersonal relationships and community values, which paradoxically increases feelings of loneliness.


The importance of community values

Recognizing and putting into practice the values of our community can promote deeper satisfaction and a stronger sense of belonging. By actively integrating oneself into social and cultural life, one experiences an enriching interaction between one's own happiness and the happiness of others. This strengthens the social network, which provides support in times of need and fills everyday life with joy and meaning.


Conclusion

Although individualism has its benefits, particularly in terms of personal freedom and self-determination, the interdependent concept of happiness shows that a balance between personal and community values can be crucial to personal well-being. By fostering strong, supportive communities and valuing our social selves, we can live happier lives not only as individuals but also as part of a larger community. Therefore, the goal of Life Potential Coaching is to create a balance between personal goals and the demands of the social environment. It helps people to harmonize their own values and those of their community in order to promote both personal well-being and social harmony. It is about achieving a practical realization of one's values while respecting and promoting the social and cultural values that strengthen community coexistence. We cannot be happy alone.


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Sources


Interdependent Happiness Concept

The concept indeed originates from Asian cultures where community welfare is valued highly, as demonstrated by numerous studies including those by Yamagishi and Yamagishi (1994). Their research highlights differences in trust and commitment between the United States and Japan, reflecting cultural variations in interdependence and collective well-being (Yamagishi & Yamagishi, 1994)


The Social Self

Mark R. Leary discusses the concept of the social self extensively in his book "The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life" (2004). This perspective focuses on how individuals perceive themselves through the perspectives of others, influencing their behaviors and self-esteem.


Individualism and Its Disadvantages:

The cited article by Twenge et al. (2001) indeed discusses the negative implications of individualism, particularly in terms of social exclusion and its effects on aggressive behavior, thus supporting the claim about the downsides of individualistic attitudes in society.


Promotion of Community Values

Robert D. Putnam's "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community" (2000) is a seminal work that examines the decline of social capital in the U.S. and its impacts on societal functioning and community values.

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