Let’s talk about happiness
Happiness is now the ultimate goal in life. It seems like we have an obsession with being happy. We are flooded with it so often that we kind of end up putting a lot of pressure on ourselves to be happy all the time. We are thirsty for readymade happiness. We want to do things that bring us happiness. We want to show others that we are happy. And since we are bombarded by the happiness of others, we too want to be as happy as them. Or more. Or maybe we feel like we are not happy enough and that we deserve more.
Wanting to be happy and to find the pleasures in life is natural. But, we live in a world where crying is portrayed as something that has to be avoided. Something that has to be hidden. We have to be “tough” and “strong” and we are perceived as weak if we cry or express our emotions in any other way.
So, we find ourselves masking our sadness and insecurities with a smile. We judge ourselves for experiencing sadness. We judge ourselves for experiencing guilt. We judge ourselves for experiencing anger. We pretty much judge ourselves for experiencing any negative emotion.
Allow yourself to feel
To allow yourself to feel negative emotions is as important as to be happy. To embrace the full spectrum of emotions that surge up through you.
I have always had the tendency to try and find something positive in every negative situation. This is good to an extent, but not if it is a form of denying how you feel. I used to deny myself negative emotions. To deny myself negative events. To distract myself from them (and occasionally still do automatically). I have come to realize that, sometimes, when you are experiencing negative feelings, being positive can do more harm than good. This is because being positive can repress those negative emotions.
Think about it like this: our emotions inside are screaming, pleading desperately to be released. But we are ignoring them and imprisoning them behind a smile and the statement that we are “fine”.
When an emotion arises, you can either experience the emotion fully or repress it. There is no in between.
This repression happens when an emotion surges up through you, and you instinctively push the energy back to your body so it is not expressed. You hold it in and don’t let anyone know about it. You can become used to this, and may do it for a while. Sometimes the response to hide emotions can be so automatic that you are not even aware of what you are feeling anymore. And this denial of negative emotions will probably lead you to experience deeper and more prolongued negative emotions.
As time goes by, the emotion that you have been repressing has built up too much pressure and needs to be released. This may happen when you are alone and with your own thoughts, or when the emotion is triggered in some way. When the repressed emotion is released, it is often completely out of proportion with the trigger. Here, you may be confused and may express some anger or guilt towards yourself, which creates a vicious cycle.
I believe that the healthiest thing to do is to observe, accept, and feel these emotions as they come. Your mind will most probably be making its own melodrama as the emotions move through you. Try not to control or resist these thoughts that come along. Try not to label them as “good” or “bad”. But observe them. Observe how they are affected by the emotion. And how the emotion is affected by your thoughts. Allow the mess to be there.
Move these emotions away in a healthy way without sending them to anyone or believing the thoughts that come along with them. Allowing this process without judging yourself allows the emotions to move through you. And be compassionate with yourself. You are human. You have a full spectrum of emotions for some reason. It is natural and beautiful to express those feelings. As it is natural and beautiful to be happy.
Free yourself from this pressure to be happy all the time.
The more you aim for happiness, the more it eludes you.