“Choosing Happiness” is a Myth

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-4-29-15-pmYou might, at this moment, be thinking to yourself, “Gee, that’s an awfully pessimistic statement,” in regards to the above statement that I just made.

I would like to counter anyone thinking, “Gee, that’s an awfully pessimistic statement,” by saying:

a) No, not necessarily.

And,

b)Who even says “Gee” anymore?

Inherently, “choosing happiness” isn’t always a bad way to live your life, but it could be a dangerous one.

I was watching a video the other day where someone was talking about this, and now I can’t find that video again. (So if you know which video I’m talking about, PLEASE send it to me so I can give credit). And in that video, the creator was talking about this very subject and how it’s extremely unrealistic and ultimately a problematic goal.

If you’ll allow me to attempt to put it in the simplest terms I can, her main reason was this:

Happiness is not “normal.”

Going back to third grade science classes, our body is always trying to maintain homeostasis, a.k.a. stability, a.k.a. balance, a.k.a. equilibrium.

When we think about happiness, we often associate it with seemingly endless good feelings, being incandescently bubbly, and laughing till your abs hurt. We picture being surrounded by friends and family, having a job we love, and being in a committed relationship, etc.

While those are all indeed excellent things to have/experience, they shouldn’t be confused with “normal.”

By “normal” I’m talking about this homeostasis. Our bodies are going to continue trying to keep up this homeostasis even when we aren’t surrounded by/feeling all of these things.

But if we’re equating happiness with homeostasis, we run the risk of doing ourselves more harm than good. Because, when we’re alone, working on our own things, we aren’t necessarily “happy,” at least, not in the traditional bubbly, giggly, can’t-hold-it-in sense of the word.

Though, hopefully, we are content.

I’ve run into trouble this past year in thinking I had to be happy all the time, always keep a positive attitude, stop getting down on myself, etc.; but life is, to put it plainly, better when we choose to give ourselves a break.

We don’t have to be happy all the time. It’s dangerous to find yourself experiencing negative thoughts and emotions and to shove them aside for the sake of being happy.

There are going to be times when choosing happiness, is just not an option. We have to feel the negative, too.

When a grandparent dies, we can’t just “choose happiness” because we don’t want to feel sad. When we’re experiencing anxiety or depression, we can’t just “choose happiness” and be cured. When we feel a loved one slipping away from us, we can’t just “choose happiness” and expect that to fix things.

We have to go through it to get through it.

This very well might just be one long rant based on a technicality (the word happiness vs. being content and whatnot); but without this distinction, striving to always choose happiness, rather than just striving to be content, can lead us down a never-ending path full of disappointment in ourselves.

I don’t want to be angry with myself when I should be content that I’m content, you know? I shouldn’t confuse being content with being sad just because being content doesn’t feel the same as being happy.

We need to cut ourselves some slack — to love ourselves more and practice patience. We need to go through the negative, murky feelings and we need to appreciate the happy, joyous feelings because they’re all fleeting.

We need to understand that feeling neutral is ok.

When we can’t choose happiness, we have not failed. It is just what makes us human.

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