Why You Shouldn't Be Happy All The Time
I’ve noticed this belief many people have, it’s a belief I’ve had as well, and it’s one that creates an unhealthy relationship to ourselves and to our lives. The belief is this:
There is something wrong if I don’t feel good.
Often times we work to make things easier instead of working to make things better. We have the idea that better means easier, but it doesn’t. Better, to me, means more meaningful. And work itself is something that requires effort. When we put effort into something the outcomes is inherently more rewarding.
The truth is that nothing is necessarily wrong if you don’t feel good. Unpleasant feelings can be signposts on our path. They can show us that we’re in the process of uncovering something deeply important in our lives. They may be a response to physical discomfort. They might be in reaction to tragic world circumstances.
Today we live in a world where we want happiness without the hard work. So we start to turn our heads to the uncomfortabilities of the world. We begin to shut out the cries for help, even our own cries. We tell ourselves that we can’t handle it. And the truth is that we’re jipping ourselves. We’re not giving ourselves the opportunity to face into the full complexity of human life.
The other day I left my boyfriend’s apartment feeling really sad. Something seemingly trivial happened between us that normally wouldn’t have bothered me. But in this particular moment, it did. So I drove home feeling lonely and watching my mind draw all sorts of ridiculous conclusions about the situation based on my feelings. When I got home I felt disoriented and anxious. So I decided to sit on the edge of my bed and just be with my experience.
Instead of delving into my mind’s habit of analyzing the situation, I decided to bare witness to my feelings.
And it sucked. Really. The feelings were not good. They made me feel squirmy. I knew I wanted to run away from them. I wanted to talk to a friend and blow them out of proportion or busy myself to avoid them. But I stayed with them instead. And not only did I stay with them, but I decided to embrace them. I made the choice to accept the feelings instead of reject them.
And guess what happened? They became less powerful. They didn’t totally go away. But the power they had over me moments earlier began to dissipate.
I don’t have total clarity on why I felt the way I did that night, and I don’t have to. Maybe it meant something bigger than I can see right now, or maybe my mind was trying to make it bigger than it was. But I decided to accept the truth of my experience. I gave myself an opportunity to face into something that would have been easier to push away. And it was rewarding. I learned something about myself.
I am in a human body. I am having a human experience living in this body, and I want to fully participate in what it means to be human. For me, that means to embrace the range of emotions human beings experience. It means that when I am sad I can let myself cry as hard as I need to cry. I can sit with my darkest fears and bare witness to them without running away. There’s something about that that feels really important.
The more I grow, the more I see this truth of life: nothing stays the same. Our feelings, thoughts, desires, circumstances, and perspectives are always shifting. And this means that it’s normal to not always feel happy.
If you haven’t noticed this yet, check in with yourself throughout the day. See how you feel in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. Notice your thoughts today, tomorrow, and the next day. Consider your circumstances today as compared to last year and five years ago.
We’ve become too comfortable hiding from our fears. We’ve become too accustomed to trying to make things easy. We’ve too often turned our gaze away from the discomforts of the world and our own experiences in order to feel a little better.
Life calls for us to be courageous.
It asks us to bare witness to the atrocities of life. It yearns for us to open our hearts and feel what is required of us in these moments. It begs us to be with the truth.
We all have the capacity to be present with the truth, no matter how painful it may be. We all have the ability to face our deepest fears and smother them with love. And on the other side maybe you’ll see that we aren’t always supposed to feel happy. Maybe you’ll find that walking through the pain is part of the beauty of being human.