“Even when everything’s going your way you can still be sad. Or anxious. Or uncomfortably numb. Because you can’t always control your brain or your emotions even when things are perfect.” – Jenny Lawson
I feel like everyone has been talking to me about happiness lately. The other day, I was on the receiving end of “Happiness is a choice. You just need to smile more.” Well, that’s not exactly how it works. This week, I have also received the “just cheer up” line with a pathetically insincere smile. Let me repeat, that’s not exactly how it works. At church today, there was a woman that talked about happiness. She said that it is our soul’s desired state to be happy. It is not our soul’s natural state but it’s desired state.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m an unhappy person. Happy is one of the many things I am throughout the day. I feel a plethora of emotions during the day – I’m up and down and around. It is a wild ride of emotions but it’s my wild ride. It tends to drive me crazy when those around me want to put me into some sort of box or check-mark me with some kind of unlicensed diagnosis.
Happiness can be a delusion. The idea that people need to be happy all the time is a trick that we fall into as humans. We think that if we are not happy then there is something majorly wrong with our lives. False. It is normal to have moments of happiness – sometimes fleeting moments but they are there. The idea that you can choose to be happy ALL THE TIME will cause unnecessary mental pain. “I’m not happy today. What went wrong? Why does everyone else get to live the good, happy life?” If we feel the need to be happy and content all the time, it has the possibility of leading us down the road of bad choices – alcohol, drugs, sugar, adrenaline, etc.
Happiness is a bit of an illusion at times – it exudes a false reality. I have a student that likes to learn card tricks (and other sleight of hand tricks) and shows me a new one every couple of weeks. She finds satisfaction in being able to trick me and to successfully show a new skill. This is a bit like happiness. It lures you into this idea of one thing only to show that the true reality is something completely different.
Happiness is a tricky emotion – it’s elusive. Do you ever have those moments when you think, “I could not be any happier. I cannot imagine ever feeling anything else.” Then, poof. The happiness has evaded you. It skidded around the corner, out of sight, before you could ask it to stay. Sometimes, this happiness skips away because of situational triggers and sometimes not.
You cannot control your brain. It misfires sometimes. It’s okay to realize over and over that you are feeling something other than happy. Like I said, happy is something that I feel over the course of a day but rarely for more than a few fleeting moments.
My life is busy right now. Busy and fairly stressful but doable most days. I find myself struggling with remaining positive in a sea of stress. I find my search for these fleeting moments of happiness a real, life-on-the-line search. I find myself feeling like there is a film between my thoughts and my brain and the rest of the world. I see through a glass, though darkly some days. Life is not a straight shot. There are ups and downs, and some of us have more ups and downs than others – and that’s more than okay. I struggle with reality and my perception of the world, I struggle with the elusive happiness, I struggle with this wild ride of emotions. As long as I keep struggling, I will keep finding those fleeting, elusive, delusionary moments of happiness.
Please visit makeitok.org. Educate yourself, help end the stigma that surrounds mental health. Take the first step and understand that mental health is a real issue. Also, listen to the podcast: “The Hilarious World of Depression.” The entire first season is available and amazing.