The announcement made by Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin recently that they were “consciously uncoupling” ie separating with a view to divorce, came as a shock to the general public, although it appears that it was no surprise to the media.
The relevance was, however, that on Twitter feeds, Facebook and the internet generally, there was much derision about the announcement and the language used to bring an end to their eleven year relationship. Further, attached to the announcement was an extract from two doctors Dr Habib Sadeghi (possibly pronounced ‘sad eggy’) and Dr Sherry Sami on the meaning of “conscious uncoupling” which by any standards was bizarre.
However, putting all of that aside, the most pronounced view that has arisen from this announcement has been the reaction of most of the commentators based in this country. Instead of there being any sympathy towards Gwyneth, or towards the notion that she and Chris were trying (albeit strangely to others) to demonstrate that they were attempting an adult and consensual approach to the breakdown of their marriage, most commentators were demonstrating the greatest sense of Schadenfreude and delight at the demise of her seemingly perfect marriage.
So what is Gwyneth Paltrow’s terrible crime? On careful analysis it would appear that being thin, beautiful, successful and ambitious, with an overriding sense of positivity and happiness, is an anathema to the basic English psyche. How could it possibly be that anyone could be permanently on a high, positive and want to make a difference. This is not a concept that most average English people recognise or sympathise with. Accordingly, if any positive and happy person places their head above the parapet, most consider that they have to be immediately shot down and made to be miserable like the rest. How often have we seen played out in the Press on a regular basis, successful people being turned upon by the media. All of this represents a general feeling by the public that no one can possibly be happy all of the time and, if they are demonstrating this visibly, that they must be unhappy but are just not admitting it. Actually, this is not so!
Whilst Gwyneth Paltrow can on many occasions appear to be off the Richter Scale with some of her ideas, she is undoubtedly a basically positive and forward thinking person. This cannot be accepted by the average person in England because this does not accord with their definition of life, which is, that you have to be unhappy like everyone else. Regrettably I do not accept this basic proposition, and do not believe that it is impossible to be happy for the majority of the time with a positive approach to life and more importantly setting up repeated goals to achieve.
There is no doubt that research clearly shows that those with goals to attain are the most happy, and those that have no goals or ambition or desire to better themselves are frustrated, unhappy, bitter and turn in upon themselves and anyone else that displays the opposite sentiment.
The media is constantly telling us at every stage that, if we see positivity, we should not in any way be complacent and that this is simply a temporary state until things turn back to misery again. This can be applied to everything, eg to green shoots being shown in relation to the economy, most commentators here would explain that this is merely transitory before we are plunged back in penury. In relation to the weather, if it is good, we are told again do not expect it to last a few more days because undoubtedly it will turn into floods once again.
In relation to every aspect of our lives, we are constantly being told that it is likely to turn into some miserable state, whether it is the health, future pensions, finances, employment etc.
As an intrinsically happy person, I have during my life faced difficulties which I have chosen to overcome with a positive approach and setting up new challenges for the future; I have often found that people find this incredibly irritating. Many of my divorce clients have told me that if they don’t demonstrate that they are falling apart at the seams to their friends and family during the course of a divorce, they are seen as very strange. If they have a positive approach to the divorce or wish to deal with matters on an amicable basis, they are told that they are undoubtedly going to go into depressive mode at some stage and that it will not be possible for them to deal with matters amicably.
Why is it that the English have to take such a negative approach to all matters? Could this be the reason that the country seems to be spiralling downwards both in terms of its mental health and generally. Is it not time that we try to shift the general approach of the public, and the media in adopting a more positive approach to life generally?
This is not a naïve expectation but one that would certainly go a long way to improving the general psyche of the public. Accordingly instead of totally deriding Gwyneth Paltrow for her happy approach to life, even when on occasions she must undoubtedly feel miserable, can we not accept that she has managed to achieve so much more than many by adopting this stance, however irritating it might seem.
Also perhaps could we start to recognise that having this negative approach which delights in everyone’s downfall and cannot celebrate in other’s successes and happiness could be summed up in one word, “Jealousy”. Jealousy is not a healthy sentiment and perhaps if we took more responsibility for creating our own happiness, not by reference to what other people have and that we don’t have, but what we can achieve ourselves, we would be a far happier and successful nation.