Happiness: Choice vs. Proactive Acceptance

There’s a lot of talk out there about how happiness is a choice- how we need to build up the strength to drown out our Negative Nancys with sheer will until we’ve practically reconditioned our impulses. But here’s what I find twisted about this message when it’s disclaimer free:

One: If you’re unhappy, you’re weak
Two: Ignoring your crummy feelings is what happy people do
Three: Strong and controlled people are happy people

I know you can’t see me, but I am cringing at this big pile of NOPE right now. To these underlying messages I say:

1) We all come by our shit honestly, and some of the strongest people I know are wrestling with big shit. While your own happiness is your responsibility, suffering over your suffering tends to zap your prospects of actually feeling genuine happiness (not just relief) more of the time.

2) Our feelings are pure reactions. They are intuition, or instincts. They quickly give us a sample of raw data before other parts of our brain start to domesticate it with previously stored information. Emotions have a job to do. So by cutting off the unpleasant voices mid sentence and saying, “You’re stupid! Go away!” we’re cutting ourselves off. It’s an act of coping and seeking relief, rather than transmuting perspective or circumstances. This also sounds like a very bad way to fall pray to perfectionism, and a very easy way to create addiction and apathy.

3) Our culture seems to have a very surface level and wobbly definition of what it means to be strong and put together. Strength and control are also often associated with success, which absolutely does not ensure happiness. So instead, aim for self-awareness, self-trust, intuitive decision making, surfing with the ebbs and flows of your raw data like a champ.

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