Ah, happiness. If you like everyone, you might sometimes rely on external advice to define what your happiness should be. And by external advice, we mean inspirational individuals. The main problem nowadays with inspirational people is that they seem to be extremely easy to find. In fact, in most cases, all you need to do is to tune in to your favourite social media platform to meet a handful of happiness gurus, from the young lady who can swear to God that your happiness depends on your ability to pick the perfect shade of lipstick for your skin tone, to the enthusiastic fitness addict who is convinced that nothing can make you happier than twelve reps of crunches with a kettlebell between your hands.
While all these fantastic offers might sound very appealing, they probably don’t make you as happy as they promised they would. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and reconsider the options available to build some real happiness. Here’s a hint before you start: If it’s broken, you can’t glue your happiness back together. However, what you can do is turn toward the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years of history and listen to the lessons of the past.
One saying jumps to mind: Happiness is a private life. Maybe that is exactly what should define how you build your happy life. Naturally, it doesn’t mean that you should become a hermit and live in a cave lost in the mountains. But privacy has recently become a hot topic both in the individual and business environments. Who knows? There may indeed be something to it, and more importantly, privacy might be at the centre of a happy and mindful life. Are you ready for this new adventure? Let’s bring privacy back into your life to rediscover happiness.
Why is your privacy so important?
If you work in the marketing industry, you’re probably aware of the importance of collecting private data. In fact, cookies are a major hit for all online activities, especially because most web tracking tools collect cookie information in order to monitor web visits and web interactions. These third parties cookies, as they are referred to in the legal jargon that you can find on websites, are in reality cookies from marketing tools such as Google Analytics, Crazyegg — a famous click tracking tool that finds out how people click and scroll on a website — and other optimization and tracking tools. If you don’t work in the marketing industry, all you’ve noticed is a little note on top of your screen mentioning that the website uses anonymous cookies to track your behaviour and improve its performance in return. Admittedly, cookies come with an expiry date and are device-specific instead of person-specific, which makes it difficult for marketers to analyze your every behaviour. In other words, businesses are currently looking at different approaches and technical processes to track personal interactions and deliver a fully tailored content directly to your laptop, smartphone or tablet. Sounds good? Maybe it’s time to query the value of your privacy.
If you’ve heard about the hyper-personalized advertising from Target about pregnancy products, then you may reconsider the value of your privacy. Based on the behaviour of a teenage girl, Target’s marketing team deduced that she was pregnant and started to send her coupons for baby gear before she had even discussed the pregnancy with her parents. In the marketing world, it’s called a brilliant analysis of private customer data. In the real world everybody lives in, it’s referred to as intrusive creepiness, and that’s nothing that you and me want to experience. That’s exactly why you want to protect your privacy, online and offline.
Nosey neighbours exist
Being curious is part of human nature; there’s no need denying it. In fact, a study has revealed that 1 in 3 persons in a residential area is likely to spy on their neighbours. If you thought that privacy was just a matter of digital cookies — that inedible IT treat that comes back to bite you in the backside when you least expect it, like with that teen girl and Target — then you need to think again. Your privacy refers to everything that touches your personal lifestyle, behaviour and decisions. It exists online and offline. In other words, nosey neighbours are an attack against your privacy. In fact, some neighbours have even exploited a legal loophole to point their CCTV cameras into the yards and windows of other residents. Now if that doesn’t sound like a breach of privacy, then we don’t know what it is.
The fact is that as long as the camera is installed on your neighbour’s property, they are allowed to film anything they want to, and that includes you having a bath. Currently, this kind of intrusive behaviour cannot be stopped, unless the concerned individual is ready to engage in an expensive legal pursuit in the Supreme Court by claiming the intrusion is a nuisance. There must be something else that you can do to protect yourself rather than hiding under an open umbrella at all times.
Maintain your privacy
The easiest way to maintain your privacy is naturally to do the same to your neighbours, assuming you want to invest in professionally installed CCTV cameras. But jokes aside, a CCTV camera can provide a new form of privacy protection, as it encourages unrequested visitors to keep their distance from your home. In other words, it might not stop your old neighbour to look across the street to see what you are doing, but it will certainly stop people peeping through your windows and in your garden.
What you can do as well is to arrange for residential home tinting to be installed on all your transparent surfaces. Just like tinted windows on a car hide a driver from other people around, they do exactly the same in your home. You can still look outside and enjoy natural light coming through, but your neighbours have no way to spy on you when you do your yoga workout in the lounge.
Protect your garden from curious eyes
In the end, the easiest way to keep your home safe from uninvited attention is to keep it hidden. This doesn’t mean that you should move out to live in an isolated area. Instead, you could consider the addition of elegant garden screens that will keep your activities private in your property. They obstruct the view for anybody who sits outside of the property, which can be beneficial if you’ve got young children and pets you want to protect from the unrequited attention.
Mindful sharing online
Do you know what keeps a lot of burglars updated about your absence? Your social media updates give away where you are and what you’re doing. In other words, however beautiful you think the sunset might be on holiday, it’s best to keep it to yourself until you’re back home. A lot of homeowners who share too much information are in for a bad surprise when they’re back. In fact, insurance policies may not accept your claim if you’ve been posting online information about your holiday. Sharing pictures of your trip, booking and holiday dates might invalidate your cover. So think twice before sharing that sunset picture on Twitter.
Take time with yourself
Privacy is also about finding some time to be with yourself. Not everything needs to happen in public or in front of a camera. Finding back balance in your life depends very much on how much time you can spend in your own company. The essential me time is good for the soul, but it’s also giving you the possibility to reflect on your priorities in life and to take care of yourself. So stay home, put your yoga gear on, and make an appointment with yourself. You will find a true sense of fulfilment that online activities can’t provide.
Unplug your phone
Here’s a challenge for the weekend: Turn off your phone and let life happens at its own pace. Yes, it means you can’t call anybody, or you can’t play your favourite point and click games. Worse, you can’t even admire the landscape pictures of your friends on Instagram. But do you know what you can do? You can look outside and reconnect with what is happening around you. Take the time to play with your kids, throw a ball at the dog or simply sit down and read a book, knowing that these moments of your life are private. No data will be collected by any marketing team. Take back ownership of your life.
Find ways to connect with those you love
When was the last time you wrote a letter or a postcard to someone? When it’s so easy to Facetime a friend or Snapchat a picture of your holiday, the idea of writing by hand a few words might seem absurd. Try it, though. These words will be a private and untraceable gift that you make to someone. And, best of it, writing letters is proven to make you happy! So why wait?
At the core of the privacy debate, there’s a fine balance to maintain: How much do you need to share to be part of your community vs how much you can keep to yourself? Here’s the hint: We share too much and participate too little. Reverse the balance!