Have you noticed over the past few years, particularly through social media, that the idea of attaining a state of happiness is being pushed really hard? And you think, oh yes, it would be great to be happy. What do I have to do to be happy? And there’s all sorts of solutions; my favourite being Choose Happy. And then you think, but I’m not happy all the time – there must be something wrong with me. And you Google “happiness” and find 1001 ways to attain it. And you delve in and start trying these tried and true methods: gratitude, living life your own way, decluttering, finding God, etc. There’s even happiness challenges. After 21 days of doing this, this, and this, and you’ll be a happier person. You might even convince yourself at the end of it: I’m happier.
But are you? Have you ever considered what it means to be happy? Sure, it will mean different things for different people. But what is it REALLY? I think “happiness” is a cloud word. It doesn’t really mean anything. Sure, it’s positive but I don’t think it’s something that’s a constant. I don’t think you can BE happy. I think you can feel happiness at moments as a culmination of events but it’s fleeting. I find this constant push to “be happy” almost insulting, actually. There are some days when I don’t fucking feel like being happy. Does that mean there’s something wrong with me? No. But if you are inundated with messages telling you the opposite, what are you going to think?
I’m no psychologist (clearly) but I know, in my gut, when a trend is flawed. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out WHY I don’t like it, why when I see the messages my toes curl. Sometimes I don’t bother saying anything about it. I just ignore it. But normally I’m not good at ignoring things that bug me. I think the case of “Happiness” really bugs me because I know too many people who aren’t in a perpetual state of happy, and if they say they are – warning bells go off.
Here’s what I think we should be saying if we want to talk about positive things in our lives. If you feel happy – why do you feel that way? Have you been productive that day? You’re satisfied. Are you taking a mini vacation to some place you love? You’re excited. Are you feeling the kiss of the sun on your face and a warm breeze? You’re peaceful. Are you playing around and laughing with family and friends? You’re having fun.
Sure, there may be sprinklings of happiness throughout a day but it’s okay to acknowledge the shit that brought you down too. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m depressed. I don’t want to talk to anyone today.
I’d say lets start a campaign about being REAL. Let’s use terminology that is grounded. That means something. That is attainable. I mean, there are 100’s of 1000’s of people out there to whom happiness isn’t even a thought. Their goal is surviving the day – and I’m sure this is where someone would bring up the word gratitude (which I also abhor), but I won’t get into that term today. For those of us, who have time to consider our feelings – even dwell – lets acknowledge that life isn’t about happiness. Life is about ups and downs, successes and challenges. And sure, going about this in a positive way makes it easier but if you can’t that day, do the best you can with what you’ve got. That’s reality.