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Life is suffering, here’s why brands should embrace it

Let’s face it. Life can be pretty harsh. It’s full of disappointments, frustrations, losses, hurt, setbacks, and sadness. It can seem enticing to downplay this adversity in our lives and instead focus on all the positive and joyous facets of life. Yet, refusing to look at life’s darkness and avoiding uncomfortable experiences can be detrimental to mental health.

In current society we still see that the dark side of our lives is underexposed. Instead of acknowledging and embracing it, brands often prefer to focus their branding and communications on topics like love and laughter over sadness and setbacks. However, by doing so, they might unintentionally contribute to our poor state of mind. Research among 7443 participants across 40 countries proved that perceiving societal pressure to be happy is linked to poor well-being, especially in countries with a higher World Happiness Index. Additionally, researchers who study “post-traumatic growth” have found that people can grow in many ways from difficult times– like having a greater appreciation of one’s life and relationships, increased compassion, altruism, purpose, utilization of personal strengths, spiritual development, and creativity. It’s about how the event is processed, the changes in worldview that result from the event, and the active search for meaning that people undertake during and after a traumatic event that leads to personal growth and even positive mental-health outcomes such as reduced lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders.

For the last decade, we at TrendsActive have seen a clear shift in society, from a strong emphasis on happiness towards living a more meaningful life. Recently the Journal of the American Psychological Association even submitted a new dimension into the discussion of what a good life entails. According to the researchers, some people prefer psychological richness over happiness or meaning in order to live a good life. Psychological richness is described as a life defined by variety, interestingness and perspective change. The authors name examples like studying abroad, divorce, or even small things like short trips or escape rooms. “Unlike happiness, our conception of richness allows for moments of discomfort and unpleasant emotion,” the researchers write.

In a modern society where younger generations in particular experience mental health problems and report having difficulty keeping up with modern society, brands that guide them in becoming more resilient by painting a more realistic picture of what life is all about can really add value to them.