Being happy and positive all the time is just not possible, it doesn’t match up with reality. We are always going to experience mixed emotions, that’s life. Sometimes we will experience sadness, sometimes happiness, other times fear, anger, jealously etc etc.
Looking for a life where we’ll just be brimming with feelings of happiness is dangerous because it’s just delusional and unrealistic. It’s unhealthy and destructive to wish this way of being. When we allow ourselves to feel however we’re feeling, we keep grounded and in a state of acceptance. This is so vital because when we try to deny the way we’re truly feeling, we move away from authenticity and into inauthenticity.
We move out of emotional balance and into emotional imbalance. From operating in this state of emotional imbalance, we will go on a never-ending hunt to try to close the gap of this imbalance. We may look to drugs, excessive shopping, gambling, social media, junk food, porn, constant sex (if that’s possible), alcohol and so on. All in an attempt to get back into emotional balance. But as we eventually find out, going down this route of chasing immediate gratification never really works, at least not for long. More often than not, it makes matters a lot worse. I also believe it’s because we live in a society that pushes happiness onto us and that any other feelings which are not positive are not acceptable.
The best way to live a healthy and balanced life is to not chase after highs but to let them come naturally when it’s the right time. When we go out of our way to create highs, we mess around with our internal systems of balance and because of this, we inevitably come crashing back down and experience lows. Whilst lows are a part of life, we can experience less of them by learning to mitigate the highs which in turn create the lows.
When we focus on keeping emotionally balanced or in the “middle-ground”, we create an experience in our lives of emotional stability and sustainability. Basically it means that our emotions don’t look like an erratic line graph which is constantly up and down without levelling out. The trick is to level out our experience of life to create emotional wellness and empowerment. I’ll write more on this later.
Back to the point. No one should have to pretend that they feel good when they really don’t. It’s not natural to do this. The only reason why this might occur is because we have been raised in a society which forces happiness and positivity down our throats.
“How are you doing today?” The woman with the wonderful white teeth smiles and says she’s “fine, just fine” when in reality she doesn’t feel fine. She feels frustrated and upset because of an argument broke out between her and her boyfriend last night.
The sooner we stay true to how we are feeling, the better we’ll be able to deal with never having to worry about putting on a mask out of fear or judgement for being true to how we feel. It’s vital that we understand it’s okay to not feel okay, that we shouldn’t have to put on a front to look happy for other people. When we do this, we feel guilty and fake because we know that what we’ve just said to that person isn’t actually true.
Instead, it’s best for us to just accept whatever way we currently feel which includes letting other people see our true state in the moment. If we are feeling sad, then we should be fully with this experience of feeling sad. If we are feeling angry, then we should just allow ourselves to feel angry. The same is true with any emotion. It’s not a problem. It just is. Emotions are never supposed to be denied or fought against because they are natural responses. Emotions are energy in motion. E = Energy & Motion = Movement.
In that case, emotions are fleeting, they come and go. This is why it’s healthier to fully embrace and express (as long as that expression doesn’t cause violence to anyone or anything) every emotion we experience. This too shall pass… that can be something we remind ourselves when we’re feeling sad, angry or fearful.
How emotions work is our senses detect something in our environment and then our senses send “data” back through to our neurology and our brain decodes it appropriately. So if we see something sad in our external environment, we will respond with the emotion of sadness and perhaps tears.
If someone tells us a joke which we perceive to be funny, we will laugh and experience the emotion of joy/happiness. When the joke has been told and the laughter has worn off, we will settle back down into balance. When the sad thing we saw on TV has finished, we will eventually settle back down into balance. Hence why emotions are fleeting, they come and go.
It’s only when we cling to or suppress emotions that we start to experience an imbalance. They are supposed to be experienced when it’s appropriate for them to be experienced. To live an emotionally balanced live, it’s crucial that we give up with the denial and suppression of all emotions. No emotion is unhealthy to experience. When people tell us that we should never have negative emotions, that’s advice we should steer way clear from. Feeling guilty for feeling a certain way is not healthy, no matter what anyone says. We should never ever have to feel guilty for experiencing any emotion.
Another healthy way to return ourselves back to balance without suppressing or denying emotions is to focus on doing the things we enjoy. As long as we don’t create any inner conflict with the way we feel, then focusing our mind on hobbies will naturally take our mind off of how we are feeling and bring us back into emotional harmony. But if we don’t accept the way we are currently feeling, then immersing ourselves in our favourite hobbies will not be an enjoyable and effective approach, it will feel like a chore, something which isn’t fun when we’re experiencing negative emotions.
This is completely different from forcing ourselves to be positive or happy. Remember, when we force ourselves to try to be happy or feel good all of the time, we become emotionally unstable because the highs have to be balanced out with the lows. That’s just how life works as we all know by now. You can’t have a high without a low. So we live in that pain and pleasure, high and low cycle where we never meet that middle zone of being centered. This might seem uninspiring or boring to some people and I completely understand that.
However, the paradox is that when we reduce the highs and the lows by creating balance, we actually have a more enjoyable and empowered experience of life. We become more resilient to stressful and chaotic events, more patient, more energised, more calmer and much less disturbed. We don’t have to rely on narcotics or any other unhealthy substances to make us feel “better”. We don’t have to buy the latest gadget to give us a quick high. There’s nothing at all wrong with buying things but it’s just that we don’t need to become dependant on stuff for our well-being. We can enjoy things more when we’re coming from a place of non-attachment.
We are always going to feel emotional pain when we attach ourselves to something, no matter what that something is. Even an inanimate object. This is why it’s so important to train ourselves to let go of everything we fear to lose.
Applying this approach where we remain in the middle zone doesn’t mean we are not going to have anymore lows in our lives, of course not. But it means that we come from a completely different place where we are emotionally balanced and that way we can deal with the inevitable sh*tstorms that happen to us all.
I think this constant need to be happy is brought about because of what society expects from us.
We see this all the time on social media. Images are constantly popping up showing people with perfect lives. All of this glory and glamour which is constantly reeling in their highlights wheel.
This is dangerous for us because we perceive that everyone’s life is constantly like this at every moment. We start to compare our lives with theirs and we feel envious, insecure and anxious as an automatic defense mechanism.
We beat ourselves up because we feel that we’re missing out as our lives don’t match up with theirs. It makes us feel that we’re broken and that something is missing from our lives. So we look at this information through lense which tell us that their lives our perfect… or so it seems to be that way according to social media. But it isn’t true. Social media just shows little bits of our lives, the best moments. The highlights. But let’s bring things back to reality… Not every single waking moment is powdered full of Ecstasy and pure happiness.
It looks like people are constantly happy and having amazing experiences every day, and again, it’s not true. This is why it’s so easy now to look at what everyone else is doing and feel low and insecure. It’s dangerous to have this ability because it really screws with our heads.
We have to face the truth which is that, yes, whilst people do have awesome experiences, scrolling through our Instagram and Facebook feeds believing that people are constantly having them is not an accurate representation of reality. Everyone has problems and challenges to deal with all the time. Everyone has bad days, days where they wish didn’t happen.
Trying to be happy and positive all the time for the sake of it actually does more harm than good. Why? Because forcing ourselves to be like this takes us out of emotional balance. If we can operate normally and function sanely in emotional balance, then why do we think we need to try and force ourselves to feel good all the time? It’s completely unnatural and unnecessary.
Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. And in fact, life would be pretty empty and meaningless if we were just happy 24/7. A meaningful and authentic life is about accepting the whole pallet of emotions. There is always room for every emotion. Simply trying to deny our emotions is not conductive to living a calm and balanced life. It might seem backward saying this but the opposite actually happens when we try to fight off low emotions and try to feel good all the time.
We also have to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to other people. Doing this will destroy us. It’s a recipe for depression and insecurity. How many times have you compared your life to someone else’s and felt negative energy arise inside you? If you’re like most people, then you can safely say almost every time.
Okay then, so if this creates feelings of doubt, insecurity, shame, unworthiness, a feeling that we’re not enough as we are, then what the hell is the point in comparing our lives to others?
Unless we feel inspired by their lives, then there really is no point if it’s going to cause us to feel anxious and broken. This is pure madness and has to be stopped if we want to live authentic, empowered and enjoyable lives.
Trying to force ourselves to be positive when we really don’t feel positive is a huge waste of time and energy. Life is up and down. Some days we feel positive, some days we don’t. We have to remain authentic to how we feel. If we feel rubbish, then we have to accept that we feel rubbish. It’s okay to not be okay, it’s not sinful to feel bad like a lot of people make out. Nothing terrible is going to happen as a result of feeling bad. We are allowed to feel anyway we like and we should be honest each and every moment.
When we deny our true feelings, we are living a lie. If we try to suppress our actual feelings this can do more harm than good. When we try to feel differently from how we’re currently feeling, we just create unnecessary resistance and tension.
I’ve read a lot of books about being positive and they indicate that feeling bad is not acceptable so we should focus on being positive all the time. But this can become a problem. By denying how we are truly feeling and forcing ourselves to block or counteract the feelings, it can actually cause more negative energy inside of us. It can also create disillusioned people.
When I went to see a hypnotherapist during my times with high anxiety, he recommended that I think positively. He suggested that whenever I had anxious thoughts, I should just block them out by thinking “happy” thoughts. I tried this for a few weeks but I actually felt far worse than I did prior to thinking positively.
I know this hypnotherapist had my best interests at heart, and yes, it sounds completely logical to think positive when experiencing negative thoughts, but it can actually do more harm than good. Especially if you’re already feeling negative. When we try and block out something, we create an inner tug of war and so we create internal resistance.
The most effective thing we can do is to take our hands off of the rope, metaphorically speaking. Stop trying to feel a certain kind of way, stop trying to feel differently from the way we currently do will help us remain in a non-resistive state. When we’re operating from this non-resistive state, we will automatically feel at peace because we will have ended the inner battle of trying to feel a certain way.
Ignore these people and books that tell you that a key to an empowered life is to avoid negative feelings and thoughts by counteracting them with positive thinking, it’s not true. Of course, positive thinking in itself is a great thing. But it should never be forced or used to escape a negative state. Changing our thinking doesn’t change our emotional responses, it just makes us feel more tense and confused. It also keeps the inner battle alive.
As an experiment focus on changing your thoughts whenever you feel internally disturbed. See if it makes you feel emotionally better when you change your thoughts. It is possible that you will feel better, if only for the short-term. However, putting all of our energy into changing our thinking is a tiresome process and will just leave us more worked up, tense and stuck in the same patterns of emotional disturbance.
On the other hand, if you have found that positive thinking has helped you in life, then ignore everything I’ve just written about it and move on. If, however, you haven’t invested much of your time and energy into positive thinking but want to, then sure go ahead and try it out. After all, we learn by trying new things out. You will learn that positive thinking is a great tool to have in your tool-box, or you will learn that it is not necessary to live a happy and balanced life.
The important thing to understand is that by convincing ourselves that we are in a positive state when we really don’t feel positive isn’t a solution. What would be far more effective and sustainable would be to focus our attention on the other aspects outlined in this guide. Aspects like gratitude, immersing ourselves in the things we love doing, working towards a goal, having a purpose that gives us meaning, not beating ourselves up, stop trying to please others, not comparing ourselves to others, treating people how we would like to be treated, avoiding people who drain us, keeping in balance, having a daily routine etc etc.
All of these things will naturally steer us towards feeling positive about ourselves and our lives, without the need for positive thinking. The paradox is that when we give up trying to be happy and positive, all of the time, we actually begin to feel better naturally without having to chase good feelings. I liken chasing happiness to chasing the horizon, by chasing it, you never quite arrive. The horizon of happiness moves further and further away from our grasp the more closer we feel we’re getting. Happiness “arrives” as a byproduct of what I’ve already mentioned above and by letting go of our endless pursuit.
So to finish this topic off, the best advice would be to spend less time on social media, stop comparing our lives to other people’s and spend much more time creating the life we want to life, by doing the things that bring us fulfilment and happiness. Oh and the most important advice of all… stop trying to be happy! Stop trying to escape negative feeling states. Surrender to them and practice shifting your attention to other things. Things which you perceive as valuable and enjoyable.