Yeah, we know, it’s Valentine’s Day. So what better way to celebrate love…
Are you too happy? Is life just way too good? We thought so. For all of you happy people out there, here’s your chance to ruin it all. For all of you depressed, bitter, miserable, and overwhelmed folks, you’re just not trying hard enough; it’s time to take your unhappiness to that next level.
What, what? Hold up. Is this a “self-help” resource suggesting unhappiness? Well, we never said we were your ordinary self-help.
None of us really want to be unhappy. Or do we?
Just the other day I was having a conversation with a person who is having a lot of difficulty in her life and avoiding happiness. She confessed to me that change was scary and embracing joy was too dangerous. She felt that having problems and unhappiness was familiar like an old friend. She feared that letting go of suffering would send her “walking into an unknown place”– a place too unfamiliar for her to navigate. Like many people, she grew up surrounded by unhappiness. Being surrounded by unhappy people left an impression and a belief that unhappiness was the only way of being. There is a lot of unhappiness in this world and she was unwittingly convinced that “that’s just the way it is.” She didn’t know that her belief in unhappiness secretly sabotaged her wish to move forward in life, to have love, joy, abundance and all that happy stuff. She was also afraid of loss; frightened that others around her couldn’t tolerate her new found happiness.
Are you familiar with a song by Florence And The Machine called The Dogs Days are Over? If you don’t know the song, check it out here. Florence has a stunning voice and the song is great, but psychologically speaking, the song’s portrayal of ambivalent happiness may explain some of its huge popularity. After all, the dog days are over and yet many people stay stuck with fear, and as the song describes, happiness is fraught with rushing trains and bullets. So many people struggle with their mixed feelings about letting go of suffering. The lyric “happiness hit her like bullet in the back” captures that danger in happiness.
How could something so wonderful like happiness shoot you in the back? Letting oneself feel happiness (deeply) is foreign to an unhappy person and it has a way of toppling the sense of security found in the familiar unhappiness, even if that security has been attached to something self-destructive. While I’m not aware of the original meaning of the Flo song, that lyric accurately represents how difficult it can be to embrace the good in one’s life, especially if you’ve been in pain for so long that happiness is fleeting, or altogether absent. Unhappy people don’t easily trust happiness, just as most folks don’t easily trust strangers– the unknown is typically scary. This fear happens (in part) because it is difficult for the human brain to balance the gray areas; that feeling somewhere between good and bad. For the mind it’s either happy or sad, good or evil– one or the other, that’s why the fairy tales’ happily-ever-afters never say ‘this castle is real nice but I’m feeling kinda outta my element here.‘
By now you figured out that this post is not really about helping you achieve unhappiness. It’s about embracing happiness– giving yourself permission to be happy. Sometimes the best way to embrace happiness is by recognizing how we deny it and create unhappiness. We can privately (even unknown to ourselves) be choosing unhappiness because it’s familiar and well, sometimes happiness is just too scary– when we’re happy there’s so much more to lose.
We don’t want to let you down here, so just in case you really did stop by for some unhappiness, here are five awesome tips! And if you actually want some happiness, try avoiding these pitfalls…