Finding happiness is not a novel endeavor. It is a feeling that most individuals desire to have a majority of the time, if not all the time. Often times it is being chased in borderline unhealthy to drastically unhealthy levels.
Though many seek this almost ideal state of mental-emotional being, many are missing that mark. So what is wrong? I have a take on this and some ways to alleviate the problem I perceive.
A Poll on Happiness.
In 2017 Harris poll performed their annual survey on Americans that are 18 and over, to get a gauge on how happy the average American is. Of the 2202 individuals surveyed the poll calculated that only 33% of these Americans actually claimed to be happy.
This, of course, is merely a survey and having only 2202 individuals represent the whole of the United States population is questionable. But the survey does speak to a problem that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Of course, there is much more to the world then just the happiness of the citizens of the USA. In the latest World Happiness Report, the United States was still ranked 19th. So with roughly 33% of its population saying they feel happy, for the many countries ranking farther down the happiness list a pretty picture doesn’t seem to be painted.
Very simply far too many people do not feel happy. I certainly don’t have the complete answer to this question. But a happiness fixation is certainly present for many individuals.
The Happiness Fixation in a Highly Pressurized World.
I have no problem saying that people, at least in the western world, are borderline obsessed with feeling good and don’t know how to let go of it.
The world is moving at a rapid pace, with rising pressures to perform. The middle class is shrinking, debts are growing, the healthcare, political and the world scenes seem to be going crazy.
So with all the rising pressures to perform in an increasingly fast paced world. We also are stuck on needing to feel good.
It can be easy to think that something is wrong because we don’t feel good. Maybe even feeling like we’re failing because of not feeling positive. But nobody is by any means failing because they don’t feel well. What it makes us is human.
We Cant Always Feel Happy.
Let’s face it, life flat out sucks sometimes. When grieving a great loss heavy emotions that don’t feel good may be present for many years or even the rest of our lives.
But most of life’s little inconveniences and unmet expectations, will come and go relatively quickly in the big scheme of things. When these emotions that don’t feel good are present, are we simply doomed for a crappy day, week or month? Certainly not.
Social media and others wanting to be cheerful and feeling good may make it seem like it isn’t okay to not feel okay. It is most certainly is though.
Expecting to be happy all the time quite simply isn’t realistic. But it is also possible to feel okay and comfortable with the fact that we are not currently feeling happiness or it’s close feeling good relatives.
How to be Okay when not Feeling Happiness.
It may not be realistic to feel happiness all the time. But there are some things to be done so that we can spend more time in authentic happiness, and less time fixated and chasing happiness’s shadow.
1. Don’t Chase Down Happiness.
Happiness is not always an easy target to hit. We can have it for one moment. But soon after have it disappear and leave us wondering what went wrong.
It’s obviously entirely okay to search out ways to feel more happy in times that don’t feel good. But seeking a path out of heavy emotions is much different than chasing one.
To chase oftentimes speaks to gratification as soon as possible. And used in this emotional wellness sense, it also implies running away. Running away from the current emotional state, as well as running from ourselves.
This is not ideal because to maintain connection with ourselves or connection with the present moment, we can’t be running away.
Chasing happiness can lead to an obsessive/compulsive cycle. Pain is present so we use this chemical, pain is present so we turn on Netflix, pain is present so we run away from it once again in the many different ways we numb ourselves out to life.
The first step to working through present emotion is to accept their presence and give them a little compassionate attention.
2. Know that Everything Eventually Passes.
If we are taking care of enough of our needs, as described in this needs inventory, happiness WILL find it’s way back. We do not need to find the next quick fix to mimic the feeling of authentic happiness.
Every heavy emotion will eventually pass if we let it. By letting myself know that this emotion that doesn’t feel good, is not going to kill me, and it will get better, I find comfort.
I find it to be profoundly true that when I know this emotion will pass and I will feel better relatively soon, I cause myself less unhealthy stress, and am much more gentle on my close relationships.
A powerful way I use to process emotion and get to the heart of what I need to do is therapeutic writing. Afterward, I generally find myself feeling refreshed, and receiving important information about why I am having a difficult time moving on from the current emotion.
Click here to read about My Life Experiments Therapeutic Writing Technique.
3. Be Careful When Comparing Our Insides to Other’s Outsides.
Do you ever look around when not feeling so hot, and see that everyone else seems so happy? It can be a painful activity to become caught up in.
Can’t it feel like all these other people are normal because they seem to be in good spirits? But here we are, stressed and sad. It can come to seem like there is something fundamentally wrong with us.
We must be careful with this process. If not gotten under control, we can convince ourselves that we are more messed up than we really are.
The truth is that all these people around us have probably felt this exact same way, and thought this exact same thought.
There is nothing wrong with feeling emotionally unwell, even if those around you feel great.
4. Stay Healthily Physically Active.
It can be very difficult to desire physical activity when feeling in rough emotional shape. especially if we are not used to getting enough of it. Others may use physical activity as an escape from feeling out the current emotional state.
We don’t need to use physical activity to chase down happiness, and we don’t need to allow our unhappiness to keep us from getting active. It is all about finding the balance between feeling and doing.
5. Quit Labeling some Emotions as Positive and Others Negative.
It is popular to call emotions that feel good such as happiness, joy, inspiration, and many others, positive emotions.
All of the rest that the average human would rather not be experienced like sadness, anger, lethargy and are then labeled, negative.
But the fact of the emotions that our bodies are capable of producing are for important purposes. Whether they feel good or not, they are necessary. They communicate to us whether we are neglecting bodily impulses or caring for them.
Calling those we don’t care to feel negative doesn’t make much sense at all. Whether they feel good or not, we will be better off be listening to them, respecting them, caring for them, feeling them.
6. Develop Positive Connections with Healthy People.
Other people are incredibly important in helping us work through emotions that don’t feel good.
They don’t need to be used for instant emotional gratification though, to cheer us up when feeling down. It can be just as important to have people that give us their presence while allowing us the emotional space to feel down. Allowing us to feel sad around them without trying to cheer us up or solve our problem.
It is a natural tendency to want to cheer each other up or help solve the current problem. If all you need is the space to feel heavy, communicate that. And fight the urge to complain and blame, that sends the message that we desire more than a simple place to heal.
Closing Thoughts for Working Through the Fixation.
Happiness can be elusive, maybe more elusive for some than others, but the point remains. It and the whole other world of emotions that feel good are also wonderful things for sure.
Sometimes they come in droves, other times it can feel like they are gone forever. But, remember this, the good times won’t last forever, and neither will those times where everything feels like it is falling apart.
It is okay to feel the fullness of our emotion. By doing so we make a much faster trip back to the path towards authentic happiness.
That is all we have for today and thank you so much for stopping into My Life Experiment. What is written here has come from struggle and growth.
We sincerely wish you amazing success in coping with the fixation on happiness to feel emotion, heal faster, and get back to feeling authentically good. I offer you the challenge of applying what you have read here, as well as experimenting with your own healthy ways for finding a healthy path to happiness.
We truly believe that if you take today’s lessons to heart and apply them, that you will greatly benefit.
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