Tuesday, March 1, 2016

It's ok to not be Happy

Sometimes I think that happiness is overrated. I mean, happiness is great, when you can find it. But it's not the only valid or fulfilling emotion that humans feel. We have a whole range. And yet, we've put this premium on happiness, to the point that we can feel like there's something wrong with us if we don't feel happy all of the time. If you've been keeping up with your inspirational memes, you'll know that "Happiness is a Choice." So if you're not happy, you're making the wrong choice.

First of all, no. It's not that fucking easy. I try really hard to choose happiness every day. I sometimes post messages to social media that I find positive and uplifting. I don't do that because I'm a real happy go lucky type individual. I do it because my default emotions lean heavily to the dark side, and I have to make an effort every day to find happiness. One of the ways I do that is by reading and repeating positive messages. It helps. But still, it's an effort. And I sometimes feel like I've failed when I've put a real effort into feeling light and happy, and I end up feeling dark and cynical anyway. As much as I try to "make the choice" I'm not happy all the time. Not even most of the time. And I've beat myself up over not feeling happy. What the fuck is wrong with me?

The answer is NOTHING. It's normal. I'm almost positive that most people don't feel happy all of the time. So maybe instead of spreading the message that we just need to try harder to have a positive mental attitude(or at least in addition to that, because that does have value), we should be thinking about validating the rest of the range of emotions that most human beings feel. Of COURSE I want people to feel happy. But if you feel angry, scared, hurt, jealous, uncomfortable, irritated, bummed out, anxious, bored, whatever-those are all totally ok and normal too.  There are even feelings in between that are neither negative or positive. Sometimes I just feel thoughtful. Just observing the world and processing it as I take it in, not feeling happy or sad or anything. All those feelings and non feelings come from somewhere, and serve some purpose. When I relieve myself of the pressure to feel happy all the time, I'm actually able to harness the energy of all those other things I feel. I'm able to create, and articulate and connect with people because I'm not busy beating myself up.

Happiness IS important. It's just not the only thing that matters. I've recently shifted the way I think about happiness. Instead of thinking about happiness as a permanent thing that I can't quite grasp, I think about happiness as moments. Moments of Happiness. Have I achieved "Happiness"? No. Have I felt moments of happiness? Fuck yeah! All the time! When I think about happiness like that, I feel really good. Happiness isn't something that I have "achieved", but it is something that I have felt many times over throughout my life.

If you are depressed or suffering in some way that really hurts, that's something you should look into seeking help for. But there's nothing wrong with you if you haven't found capital H Happiness. "Happy" is just one setting on the infinite dial of human emotion. I hope that you have moments of happiness. I hope you have them most days of your life, and I hope that you appreciate them when you do. But if you feel a lot of things other than happy a lot of the time, that's ok. Me too.

A beach on the North Shore of Oahu, where I most certainly felt happiness