The majority of us want one thing from our lives: to be happy. But I think we’ve got this wrong. We should aim for Contentment, not Happiness; because one is a position or status (contentment), while the other is just an emotion (happiness). And you can’t have one emotion forever.
The problem with happiness is that it is highly overrated; and rightly so, as it is one of the few “positive” emotions/feelings that we experience. Amongst love, excitement, fulfilment, curiosity, and acceptance, happiness is the King of the Positive Emotions. And the problem is: we all want it and we want it all the time.
Like Pixar’s Inside Out film suggests, we can’t expect to feel joy all of the time. Sometimes memories and experiences are mixed with sadness, anger, fear, and more.
The problem with our society is that we shy away from the other emotions. We focus on happiness. If we feel something aside from happiness, our instinct is to hide it, suppress it, or fix it.
I was feeling low the other day and I thought, urgh, if my family saw me like this they’d immediately try to fix it. Naturally, my family don’t want me to be sad so they’d try to make me happy.
But they shouldn’t.
It’s okay to be sad sometimes. To feel fear or anger or disgust or whatever else. They’re emotions too. On a regular basis, a number of emotions walk through our bodies and our minds and do their thing and that’s okay. We need to allow them to do their thing without judgement, force, or fear.
As long as you’re not depressed, feeling sad for a time is okay. It’s okay that I wanted to sit in that sadness for a moment to see what it meant and what it was saying to me.
And in Inside Out, characters Joy and Riley learn that sadness can lead to real connection, realisation, and truth while sometimes resulting in a feeling of happiness afterwards. Sadness is not the bad guy.
You will cause your own unhappiness by striving for happiness every day. By pushing away and judging the other emotions.
Life is about balance. Good and bad; light and dark. A balance of all the emotions.
Don’t be afraid of what you’re feeling. Don’t try to force yourself to be happy all the time, or judge yourself when you’re not. Trust and value the other emotions just as much, as they all have an important role to play in our lives.
*By the way, I urge everyone to watch Pixar’s Inside Out if you haven’t already. It beautifully sums up what I’m trying to say here.