All of us have a shared goal to be happy in life! But what does that even mean?
I am going to try to make this less of an English lesson… but bear with me. Everyone you ask will tell you that their goal in life is to be ‘happy’ and that being said, it comes with a lot of conditions. Living in a world that loves the idea of black and white, good and bad, yes and no, the space for grey is almost non-existent. In therapy, I get a lot of clients who specifically tell me how they’re here to overcome their problem. I think it is great especially since taking a step in therapy is a difficult one on its own.
With the step towards a future of happiness, I often hear a lot about overcoming the current crisis, situation, problem, etc. and it boils down further to the emotional response to the situation rather than the actual situation. There is a desire to not want to struggle/suffer even though we know it is a part of life. But hear me out. Maybe, we need to start being open to the struggle just as much as we are open to the happy things in life.
When we are on a mission to be happy, it can sometimes become so one dimensional, that it ends up becoming a void of sadness. We see it as being happy (or neutral) ALL the time. We are fine with everything good but not the bad. It’s the same thing with emotions: the positive ones we cling to and whatever is categorised as negative are seen as bad.
And let’s face it. No one wants the bad.
Pain, sadness, hurt, guilt, etc are clubbed in negative emotions but what we fail to see is that it pushes us to want better for ourselves. Does this mean we have to love them… erm no!
We can be open to them like we are open to that one dying vegetable in the back of the fridge. Which to be honest - is a reminder that we need more groceries, need to be more mindful of how much groceries we are getting, and especially the fact that we need to work with it before it gets spoiled.
We also might see them as things that are hurdles and obstacles in the way of what we want. And in order to get where we want to be, we need to overcome the massive hurdle that is in the way. Could we perceive them as things that help us gain more clarity or meet unfulfilled needs? Because they do push us to work on ourselves, or even confront our emotions and move us to a place of wanting to act. That’s half the battle won.
We’re also thought and made to feel like these emotions are bad or make us less appealing socially. But think about it, we connect to people because of these emotions. And why is that? Is it because we have a shared hate towards them or because we don’t feel alone in our pain and vulnerability with them that strengthens that connection?
Maybe then we need to show less hate to them. Maybe even see them for what they actually are - an emotional reaction. Giving space to feel all our emotions helps us validate ourselves better rather than distance ourselves from them.
Food for thought: if the goal in life is to be happy; can it have any space for sadness? Because you can’t have one without the other. And rather than continuously trying to overcome them or avoid them or move away from them, could we maybe see them, work with them and be happy at the same time?
This doesn't mean we have to be kinder to ourselves when we are hurt and rather try to overcome the hurt. Because healing from pain doesn’t mean overcoming it. What it really means is - learning to navigate through these emotions in life.
Maybe we don’t need to jump over every hurdle … just walk around them.