positive mind care

When Joy Turns to Dread: The Impact of Social Conventions on Happiness

In the age of information and connectivity, the relationship between happiness and fear has taken on a new dimension. Societal conventions have a profound influence on how individuals experience and perceive happiness, often causing it to transform into an unexpected source of fear. In this blog, we will explore the intricate ways in which these conventions shape our emotional landscape, and delve into psychological terms, therapies, and techniques that can help us navigate this complex transformation.

How pressure of conformity affects?

Societal norms and expectations can inadvertently turn happiness into fear. The pressure to conform to predetermined standards of success, beauty, and relationships can breed feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. When individuals are pressured to conform to society and follow a “traditional path” it can lead to increased stress, depression, anxiety, and other negative reactions (leading to more disturbing disorders). This pressure from society can have a detrimental impact on one’s mental health, which is mainly going negative in today’s time. The psychological term “normative discontent” encapsulates this phenomenon, where individuals compare themselves to societal norms and suffer negative emotional consequences. Cognitive restructuring, a technique used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), can assist in challenging and reframing these destructive thought patterns, promoting a healthier relationship with one’s own happiness.

What is the pursuit of perfection?

In an era dominated by social media, the pursuit of perfection often masquerades as happiness. The fear of not measuring up to the meticulously crafted images on digital platforms can trigger anxiety and low self-esteem. This phenomenon aligns with the psychological concept of “self-discrepancy theory,” where the gaps between one’s actual self, ideal self, and ought self-lead to emotional distress. Positive interventions like Self-Compassion exercises can mitigate the fear-inducing effects of perfectionism, fostering a sense of acceptance and contentment.

How does is relate to the paradox of choice? And how it’s efficient?

Modern life offers an abundance of choices, from careers to relationships to consumer goods. However, the paradox of choice can transform happiness into fear as individuals worry about making the “best” decision and fear the regret of making the “wrong” choice. Mauss has spent years studying a phenomenon that some have termed the “happiness paradox.” The paradox is that when people try hard to be happy — when they make feeling happy a goal — their well-being tends to suffer for it. This concept aligns with the psychological term “maximizing,” where individuals exhaustively seek the best option. Decision-making techniques such as Satisficing, recommended by psychologists, advocate for finding satisfactory choices rather than obsessing over the optimal one, thus alleviating the fear associated with decision-making.

Social Comparison in the Digital Age:

Social comparison refers to a behaviour where we compare certain aspects of ourselves (e.g., our behaviour, opinions, status, and success) to other people so that we have a better assessment of ourselves. The ubiquity of social media platforms intensifies social comparison, leading to the fear of missing out (FOMO) and diminished happiness. The term “upward social comparison” explains the tendency to compare oneself to those seemingly better off, contributing to feelings of envy and anxiety. Mindfulness-based interventions, like Mindful Social Media Usage, can promote awareness of these negative thought patterns and enable individuals to engage with digital platforms more consciously, preserving their own happiness.

From where does the fear of vulnerability ignites this?

Vulnerability can change your life because it’s so easy to attach human vulnerability to shame or fear, you may forget about the benefits, like of belonging, courage, and joy. Societal conventions often discourage vulnerability, equating it with weakness. This can prevent genuine emotional expression and hinder authentic connections, ultimately turning happiness into a guarded emotion. Psychologists refer to this as “social disconnection,” which involves fear of rejection, isolation and lacking in all the three aspects (social, emotional and physical) of engagement in a person. Emotion-focused therapies, such as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), can facilitate open and honest emotional exchanges, dispelling the fear associated with vulnerability and nurturing deeper, appreciable, more meaningful relationships.


The interplay between societal conventions and happiness is intricate and impactful. By recognizing how norms, perfectionism, choice overload, and social comparison influence our emotions, we can take proactive steps to prevent the transformation of happiness into fear. Psychological therapies and techniques like CBT, Self-Compassion exercises, Satisficing, Mindful Social Media Usage, and EFT offer valuable tools to navigate these challenges. Ultimately, embracing one’s unique journey and fostering authentic connections can empower individuals to transcend the constraints of societal expectations and find genuine, lasting happiness.


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