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Why You Should Forget About Being Happy All The Time

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I wrote last week about happiness and control. How they get on about as well as an extra in Christian Bale’s eyeline or a stripper at a Papal picnic.

We concluded that happiness was a choice, not an outcome.

And I left you with a question to ponder.

If you accept that happiness is a choice you can make, then why the hell aren’t you happy all the time?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Being happy all the time?

A big smile on your face, a spring in your step, a little less roof in your room (thanks Pharrell).

But yet, there isn’t a person on the planet who’s happy all the time. Not you, not me, not Pharrell. And there’s nothing worse than pretending to be happy when you just want to be miserable, right?

Aiming for “happiness all the time” drives you to create goals or pursue outcomes that you think will deliver on that promise.

It becomes a goal in itself, another fictional outcome that’s dependent on bending circumstances to your will.

It’ll make you run round in circles second-guessing which move will make you happier, while also making you feel bad for experiencing “non-happy” emotions like sadness, loneliness or pain.

Truth is, you shouldn’t be happy all the time.

We’re not built to live like that, and thinking that you’re supposed to be happy all the time is guaranteed to make you fucking miserable.

We’re built to experience life, not to force it to be a certain way

I’m not suggesting that you sit back and let life happen to you, just as I would never condone becoming a goal-hungry machine. But I think there’s a middle ground, a place where you:

  • Don’t base your worth on outcomes, but on how you engage with your life
  • Don’t grip the rudder with white knuckles, but keep a light hand on it
  • Don’t beat yourself up for feeling low, but sense that you’re okay whatever you’re feeling

This is a terrain that’s pretty darn wonderful to hang out in. It’s a place of self-trust. It’s a place of natural confidence.

And here’s where it really yanks my noodle and becomes what might just be a paradox.

Because, when you’re in that place, happiness is right there with you.

Comments

  1. This is so true, Steve.

    I think one of our biggest source of unhappiness is when we actually try to fight a bad mood and end up getting angry with ourselves for not being happy. It’s hilarious when you think about it, like trying to punch the wind, but I know I used to do this in the past.

    Just by accepting that it is OK to feel miserable, to acknowledge it and let it be, just allowing it to flow freely has done wonders for me :) Fact is, no matter what we do, life will have its bad times. There are natural laws at work here. Best we learn resilience and acceptance. It’s not about avoiding the bad times (including days when we wake up in a bad mood for no apparent reason), it’s about learning to embrace them, learn from them and keep moving on and being happy and enjoying it when it happens.

    • Steve Errey says:

      Nail on the head Keith!

      It’s kind of funny really, and I might run the risk of exploding in some kind of meta-logic paradox here, but those days when you wake up in a bad mood for no reason? It’s still possible to experience happiness/contentment/peace inside that, as long as you realise that it’s just a thing that’s passing through and doesn’t reflect what’s true.

  2. Ha Ha. No explosion at all. It makes perfect sense. Our mood is like the weather. We do what we need to to adjust to it and eventually it passes (like the weather). We are neither the weather nor our moods :)

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