Is our society addicted to chasing happiness? Seems like you cannot go a day without seeing a new article or book on the secret to happiness. Is being in a constant state of happy the new normal, or is it just another trend like yesterday’s “soy-everything” obsession?
Pleasure and positivity are contagious and gratifying. Being happy feels good. And we want to feel good all the time, right here, right now. The problem is, with the vast range of emotions that make up the human experience, a perpetually happy state is not sustainable. The consequences of this pleasure seeking mentality is that when we find ourselves feeling another, just as valid human emotion – such as sadness, anger, or discomfort, we try to get out of it immediately. We think something is “wrong with us” if we don’t feel good. So we numb it, drug it, avoid it, bury ourselves in work to forget it – anything to distract ourselves from it. We don’t allow ourselves to sit with discomfort and we shame ourselves (and others) if we do. We lose empathy for others when they cannot “get over it” – as if our emotions and wounds are mere light switches that can be turned on or off.
We need to get off the “being happy” bandwagon and get on the “being human” bandwagon.
Instead of chasing happiness, I think it is more important to be content. Equally important is building the skill to get back to equilibrium when your emotions are triggered. This is the difference between responding to emotions versus allowing your emotions to rule you. Allow yourself to feel – the good, the bad and the ugly. Embrace it. It is the whole gamut of human emotions that makes life beautiful, deep and profound. And if you’re not vibrating on a happy high, don’t be so quick to judge yourself that something is wrong with you. There is no one right way. Everything has its time. Everything has its place.
Photo credit: Margaret Durow