For a long time, I bought in the “happiness myth.”
I thought we’re supposed to be happy. Joyful. All the time.
And every time when I wasn’t feeling great I would start thinking, “Perhaps, I am doing something wrong. Perhaps I need to change something in my life. Quit my job? Break up with my girlfriend? Move to Spain?”
After all, no matter where you look online, it seems as if everyone is living their happiest lives.
But now I see, that happiness is a pipe dream.
Instead of living happily, we should strive to be alive.
We often think of emotions as either good or bad. As if there were certain emotions we’re supposed to experience (e.g., happiness) and emotions we better avoid (e.g., regret, pain, sadness, etc.).
But no emotions are good or bad — it’s us, humans, that make them so. Animals also have emotions — some more than others — and yet, they don’t have a label around it: no emotion is good and no emotion is bad.
They just are.
The truth is, we need all emotions. All feelings are good because they are feelings — that is, they are there to be felt.
We need pain, regret, sorrow, worry, the feeling of a lost opportunity — as much as we need joy, exhalation, happiness, glee, enjoyment, the feeling that everything is going to be only better.
There’s no value in pleasant emotions unless you experience painful ones too. Life is about experiencing the whole feeling spectrum.
The worst place we can be in is fine.
As in, “How are you?”
“Oh, I am fine.”
As Glennon Doyle writes in her latest memoir, “Fine is another word for half-dead.”
“Being human is painful and hard not because you’re doing it wrong. It’s painful and hard because you’re doing it right,” she continues.
Being human doesn’t have to — but it can be — hard.
The moment you allow yourself to feel all emotions — regardless of whether they are so-called “good” or “bad” — you start to truly live.
Living = feeling.