Yep. I said it.
Now, hold on, let me explain where I'm coming from with this. Even my husband gave me a weird look when I told him this, but I think he sees my point now.
There are loads of articles, books and blog posts on how to be happy and tips for leading a happy life and reminders of things that we can be happy about, even Pope Francis has weighed in on this topic. There are plaques for our homes and offices that tell us why we should be happy and help us remember what makes us happy.
We're told we need to seek happiness. We buy into this idea that we should be happy always. We're convinced we deserve to be happy at all costs. We measure our lives by our degree of happiness. We're told we're missing out on something if we aren't happy.
Being happy is great, but sometimes being frustrated, angry, stuck, passionate, jumbled, low, apprehensive, conflicted or inspired is better. This broad range of emotions can be beneficial allowing for growth and reflection and creativity and variety and truth.
Happiness comes and goes and changes and flows through us and around us, but I don't think it's something you can find by reading a book on how to be happy or flipping through pages of things to be happy about. True happiness is deeper than that.
I think this quest for constant happiness is a result of our culture of instant gratification. We have become a society that always wants more and better without delay. We look for the shortcuts and the conveniences in life.
We move on from good and nice homes to bigger and grander homes; we upgrade to newer and faster phones and tablets and computers with each new model introduced; we outfit our kids with all the best toys, clothes and electronics; we have a continual wish list that never runs out of entries. We are controlled by consumerism. We look to things to make us happy.
The quest for a never-ending amount of stuff can lead to depression and sadness and frustration. We can't always get that instant gratification we crave and believe will fulfill us. We can't always have what the neighbors have or go on the trips our friends do on a constant and immediate basis. And this is where the quest to be happy often comes into play…I deserve to be happy…I'm supposed to be happy…why am I not happy?
This, of course, leads to more consumerism. "What can I buy to read or follow or do to be happier?" Well, the marketing departments and publishers everywhere have answered this call for help.
And yet, we are told we can't buy happiness….so, where does that leave the person who buys the books and plaques on finding happiness and leading a happy life?
Here are my thoughts on the subject: Happiness is something that comes about through introspection and reflection. Happiness is something that builds inside of us through self-confidence and self-reliance and friendships and faith and love and joy and peace and age. Happiness is not something that happens instantly or constantly for all people all the time.
Happiness may come and go. Happiness may elude us at times. Happiness is something we can choose to accept or something we can choose to reject. Happiness is not hidden, waiting for us to find it and then hold on to it, grasping at it with two hands for fear of losing it again.
Once we have figured out who we are and what makes us tick and can fully grasp all of life's blessings and can embrace those difficult lessons learned along the way and can have patience with ourselves and others and lean back and let go with full faith, we can be happy…truly happy.
There is no magic formula for this. There is no instant, go-to-the-front-of-the-line-for-your-happy-pill answer. There is only time and life and choice.
So, choose wisely and have patience and love and forgiveness at the ready…for yourself and others…and know that it's OK not to be happy sometimes. Heck, I've gone whole years without being happy. These were soul searching years that have resulted in great fruitfulness and eventual true happiness. Over and out…
Please note I am not at any point talking about clinical depression. I am merely referring to the obsession that people seem to have about being happy, as if it's a trendy fashion accessory or new herbal cure-all remedy that has just been discovered. Depression is a completely different beast altogether and professional help should be sought.