Day 32: Pressure to be Happy

Photo by Sasha • Stories on Unsplash

Happiness has this funny way of becoming a paradox if you push too hard to achieve it.

What if happiness isn’t just positive emotions? What if happiness is actually the ability to experience anything positive in the face of negative emotions – to sit comfortably with them, to learn from them and to make changes in our lives where it becomes apparent that there’s something we need to deal with?

My experiences over the past few months have taught me that the more comfortable I am with discomfort, the more comfortable I am with everything. I used to be so reactive.

I remember a particular incident when I was 19 and a fellow student shared some frustrating news with me in the cafeteria. I went ballistic. I noticed several eye rolls and people walking away and I remember noticing the, “here we go again” reactions. That was me. Of course, I was a drama student at the time so I guess there’s an element of living my art!

I’m still ‘fiery’. I doubt I’ll lose that completely but I no longer think I need to. I guess that’s the difference between pressured happiness and real happiness. It’s that word again…acceptance. Handling my own emotions calmly helps me work through them more easily. I don’t get locked into them the way I used to anymore.

I think many of the challenges we experience in life come about from the pressure we put on ourselves to be happy and to experience life a particular way. I’m finally realising that happiness has many facets and requires an odd mix of unhappiness and discomfort to truly exist.

Happiness feels to me to be about balance. Too much of either light or dark leads us towards blindness. We need both. The day to day happiness I’m experiencing is a product of no longer trying to drown out the dark.


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