Why You Don’t Have the Balls to Be Happy.

get elephant's newsletter

smile happy

Warning: naughty language ahead!

You say you want happiness.

We all do.

But the truth is, you’re scared shitless of it. Completely bat shit crazy of having it because lo and behold if you get it, if you experience it and get used to experiencing it, you just might lose it. Here’s a little 411 for you: so am I, and so is everyone.

That’s our first problem.

The second one is this: most of us wouldn’t know happiness if it appeared on our doorstep and introduced itself.

Happiness. What is it? We walk around striving for it, hoping for it, and looking for it in all the wrong places; but the truth is, most of us wouldn’t recognize happiness if it tackled us in broad daylight and held us down screaming: “I’m here, I’ve arrived, I am your happiness, see me, see me, see me.”

I know this one like I know the palm of my own hand.

I was a miserable child. From the outside I looked happy and carefree, but on the inside, for as far back as I can remember, I longed to be happy one day. Back then, happiness was simple in my child’s mind—it consisted of staying in one place for more than a year, escaping my mother’s harsh tongue and dodging creepy, lurking relatives. Even as a small child, I kept thinking: “one day I will be out of this house and on my own, and then I will be happy.”

The trouble is, that search and that anticipation lasted beyond leaving my childhood home. It followed me through college as I longed for graduation day and dreamt of escaping my studies—then  and only then, could I be happy and free.

Of course once I entered the job force as a diligent nine to fiver, happiness awaited me after work and on the weekends. Happiness lurked about in my mind’s eye through anticipated vacations surely delivering happiness within those 14 days of no work bliss.

But did it?

Hell no. Happiness was never in any of those end point intellectual destinations.

Happiness did not arrive when I fell in love, got married and walked down that aisle. Happiness did not arrive along with my huge bonus checks and yuppy lifestyle. And happiness certainly did not arrive when I worked my ass off to fit into that bikini and take that trip to an exotic island.

Happiness never arrived because happiness wasn’t an outside job. It was, and is, an inside one. One that we are all entirely terrified of grabbing.

Grabbing the brass ring of happiness means that we hold still for a little while and look around at the life we’re living. Happiness lies in acceptance and gratitude for what is. Happiness lives in the smallest of small things: the scent of the morning grass when the sprinkler first hits lawn against early light; happiness hangs out on the little hairs of your dog’s ears back lit by sunlight, and happiness exists in the way a lover’s arm feels heavy across your back as you struggle to claim your side of the bed.

You see, happiness is so tiny and so small that it’s fleeting if you don’t take the time to see it.

I write about happiness on my blog, and teach 40 day workshops on rebooting yourself so you can live a life you love. My entire message to the world is about positivity and happiness; but the truth is, most of the positive spin we try to put on things is horse shit.

We live empty lives searching for happiness, while touting yoga mantras and positive affirmations. Truth be told, our habit of putting a positive spin on things is actually like frosting a cake made of crap with beautiful frosting. It’s a lie and it’s not a pathway leading to true happiness.

dog smile happy

True happiness takes courage.

I’m talking the vulnerable, put yourself out there and  look like a total fool sort of courage. It’s not easy. You’ve got to be willing to break from the norm, appear uncool and stop caring so damn much about what other people think of you.

We’ve all got to take the time to slow down, break from this crazy pace in life and take a minute to sit and stare at the sky without checking for a text, listen to the birds without multi-tasking in our heads, and walk the dog without the cell phone while risking a missed call. We’ve got to shelve our egos and say yes to love, open ourselves up to being hurt beyond hurt again, and say hell yes to taking chances.

Yet  most of us aren’t willing to take a small chance on anything.

We say we do, but we don’t. We say we will, but we won’t. You don’t. You know you don’t. You play it safe and color between the lines like a good girl or a good boy. You’re afraid to open up and be vulnerable and say to someone:  “you know what, I adore you, I love you, I’m afraid you might leave me one day, and honestly I’m afraid period.”

We’re all afraid.

We’re afraid to relax and enjoy life and instead we work long hours to make that money to go on that two week vacation that in the end…ends. Then we’re left with pictures and memories that fade quickly and credit card debt that doesn’t.

If you would slow down and appreciate what you have daily, happiness might just poke her head out from behind your back and say: hey, here I am. If you would count what you’re grateful for on your fingers and toes every single morning and every single night, you might start to sense what happiness tastes like. When you realize that the fact the sky is blue, the sun rises everyday, and the beat of your pet’s heart are all miraculous, happiness might just start to let you catch her scent.

But instead, we find it easier to chase after happiness which is insanity. Chasing happiness is like trying to catch your own shadow.

It’s not possible because it’s part of you.

Happiness is inside of you. It’s not out there, it’s in there. But there’s no way to reach it unless you slow down, get quiet, and stop for a little while to notice.

They say that time doesn’t exist, and those same scientists say that when you break anything down, you’ll see a bunch of moving atoms that when you break those down, you’ll see nothing but space—empty space.

They  say that there’s no out there either. This means that there’s no time, there’s nothing but empty space and there’s nothing out there. Kinda boggles your mind doesn’t it? Well, if that’s all true (and it is), there is no where out there to find happiness. Psst…because it’s inside of you.

Ask anyone dying of Cancer, or going through hell. When life pulls the rug out from under you and you’ve got nothing to grab onto, or hope for, there’s a crystal clear clarity that comes. In those moments, you realize well shit, the smallest of things make me pretty happy right now because that’s all I’ve got to hold on to. And in those moments of hell, you finally realize lo and behold, happiness is in the way my child’s hair smells after an afternoon nap, it’s in the feel of my dog’s paw on my leg and it’s in the way my partner’s eyes look when they say I love you.

It’s not out there after all. It’s right here in front of me.

But that’s only half of this troublesome equation.

Even when we do start to recognize happiness, we’re afraid to grab onto it and trust it. We’re afraid to actually relax into enjoying it because God forbid, what if we taste it and start to like it and then lose it? What if? What if? What the F– if?

Yeah, that’s the absolute deadliest of problems we all face in this quest for happiness. We’re more comfortable wishing for happiness than we are actually noticing it and enjoying it. Our entire society is based upon anticipation and hope. Striving for what’s next, what’s better and what’s around the corner.

All that anticipation and striving delivers us right into the next moment, but you know what?

Happiness is back there behind you, like a shadow, in the now moment. Happiness is the polar opposite of someday. It’s the complete antithesis of one day, and it’s never to be found in the when. Happiness is here now if you relax enough and have the balls to accept it.

Being grateful for the job you have and realizing that regardless of how you feel today, you’re in this job for a reason. At one point you wanted it. At one point you hoped for it.

That partner of yours? At one point you wanted them, but because you’re always searching for what’s better or what’s next, you don’t take the time to appreciate what you’ve got right there in front of you. And that body of yours? I’m betting if you lost your right leg tomorrow, you’d long to have that chubby little cellulite filled inner thigh back again, wouldn’t you?

So relax and let yourself realize right now: you have everything you really need right here.

If you relax and appreciate what you’ve got, chances are you might actually slip into a grateful moment; and if you’re really brave enough to totally relish that moment, happiness just might slip over you like a soft warm blanket of goodness—so good in fact that you slowly let your eyes close and let that sweet satisfaction of happiness embrace  you for a little while.

Walk the Talk/ The Buddhist perspective on the chase for happiness:

Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!


Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Alan Cleaver/Flickr, Susan E. Adams/Flickr, Shira Gal/Flickr

is a new feature on Elephant Journal—enabling you to instantly share your mindful ideas, photos, art, YouTube videos/Instagram links & writings with our 5 million readers. Try it Now.

Write Now

About Tamara Star

Tamara Star believes happiness is not an end destination, but instead the ability to see the ordinary through eyes of wonder. Want her free tips and tricks for health, happiness and love? Click here. Receive her free 3 video series for clearing the slate for more love & happiness. Click here. She's an international best-selling author and the creator of the original 40-day Personal reboot program for women--a 6 week virtual deep dive into clearing the slate on what's blocking you. Registration is open NOW here. Tamara's global reach inspires women around the world through her programs, newsletters, and teachings. She's been featured on SiriusXM radio, Good Morning America, former Oprah producer LeGrande Green's GetBOLD radio, Dr. Brenda Wade's GoodLove Radio, Daybreak USA and News Australia. Connect with Tamara on her websiteFacebook or Twitter. Tamara's work had been translated into 6 languages and featured on The Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Positively Positive, Yahoo News, The News.com Australia, The Good Men Project, and Yoga Anonymous.


26 Responses to “Why You Don’t Have the Balls to Be Happy.”

  1. dougkzeigler says:

    "What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?" Garland Greene, from the movie Con Air (of all places!)

  2. Nabiilah Khan says:

    This is an absolute piece of happiness. I feel so relieved of all the crap inside me while I went through this article. Of course, also realizing how little I know of happiness. Lovely! I am sharing this piece of heaven.

    • Tamara Star says:

      Nabiilah, thank you so much for your comment and I'm so happy it triggered a release for you! My comment below was for Doug btw. 🙂 In regards to your comment on how little you know of happiness, I'd say we are ALL learning.

  3. Tamara Star says:

    I'd say you are RIGHT.

  4. I'm so on board with you on this one. Life is right here, right in front of us. And it feels so good to wrap ourselves up in each moment. My kiddos are my greatest teachers. They teach me presence every day. Sure I get caught up in the craziness (like we all do) but golly- I cherish those times when I can just breathe, enjoy, and laugh. Thanks for sharing Tamara.

  5. Peter Wadham says:

    I wouldn't assume we are disempowered, nor assume that this brisk delivery takes folks into those states. I sense some dog whistling about evading non-happy states, which is the classic formula for emotional blockage, or oscillation between 'good' and 'bad' feelings. I feel wholistically feeling ALL feelings is key to greater, deeper and richer aliveness. Unconditional vulnerability the gateway to our healing. You speak of vulnerability, just couldn't feel the consistent support for it in this. Thank-you for the read.

  6. Martin N says:

    Great article – plain, honest language hitting it right on the button. I think the commercialization of 'happiness' has also taken us right out of ourselves and confused our deep, inner joy of intuitive 'Being' with the ego's rampant self-indulgence of 'feelings'

    • Tamara Star says:

      Thank you Martin, I couldn't agree more. I love your line: I think the commercialization of 'happiness' has also taken us right out of ourselves and confused our deep, inner joy of intuitive 'Being' with the ego's rampant self-indulgence of 'feelings' Beautiful!

  7. Your article is a rare, earnest and priceless 'wake up' moment in cyberspace..sharing everywhere.. Thank you 🙂

  8. Jen says:

    I love this! Thank you for writing it. I’m a therapist and am rebranding my whole message/site/business around this exact thing. I call it Daring Happiness. Happiness is not something that we chase and that always looks sunny and perfect. It’s here, right now. It’s in all of your experiences, whether they be joyful or difficult. It takes courage, vulnerability, mindfulness, and gratitude. But it’s right in front of you if you want it.

    Thank you!!!

  9. Igor says:

    Well, I red the article with great interest. Thank you, Tamar!
    Actually, I wouldn't say I got a lot of new stuff but anyway this story forced me slow down a bit in order to estimate my life again. I am not sure it will solve all my problems, since I am a classic example of so called "deferred life". But anyway it is interesting and useful. Thank you again!

  10. TGP says:

    Who is that old lady in the picture anyway?

  11. stephanie says:

    Holy crap. I am totally with Nabillah. I felt relieved of all this shit I was going through the last weeks. ‘Cause this article reminds me that happiness is just around the corner. It’s my partner lying beside me cuddling in the mornings, our cats making meow when I enter the room. Our tiny, stressful dog warming my butt when I’m lying in bed. Hot, fresh coffee right after waking up. It’s the sun over the fields when I’m driving to work.

    Hell yes – happiness is not the big business we’re running in like robots.

    Thank you so much for this article! It was the slap in my face when I needed it the most!

  12. Joy says:

    You're right: I don't have the balls to be happy. Women don't have balls.

  13. StuBerk625 says:

    "…behind your back and say: hey, here I am. If you would count what you’re grateful for on your finger’s (sic) and toes…"

    It's "…fingers…", not "…finger's (sic)…"! Plural, not possessive!

  14. Rachele says:

    ” And in those moments of hell, you finally realize lo and behold, happiness is in the way my child’s hair smells after an afternoon nap, it’s in the feel of my dog’s paw on my leg and it’s in the way my partner’s eyes look when they say I love you.

    It’s not out there after all. It’s right here in front of me.”

    Excuse me, but I think this statement IS saying happiness is outside of us if it’s in your child’s hair of your partners eyes or your dogs paw. For those of us who have none of those things, this sentiment means nothing.

    • chelsea says:

      Stop being so literal and think outside the box. She is giving u EXAMPLES, use the brain that God gave u and pertain it to your own life. Hope u can find YOUR happiness
      P.S. I LOVED the article, awesome writing!

  15. Mary says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. I agree 100% with finding happiness in little things that make us smile, feel warm and fuzzy, feel safe and secure, if only for a fleeting moment/hour/afternoon. I spent the better part of my 20’s and 30’s trying to “buy” happiness. I worked harder and harder so I could “afford” to buy my “happy clothes”, have my “happy car” and live in my “happy apartment.” It never filled me up.

    Then I met a man who did not put value on “things” or “possessions”. He put all his faith in love, family, and something larger than himself. This was my answer. I realized I had been working tirelessly for equally miserable people and not finding my inner joy.

    Now, I have come to appreciate it all! A nap with my kitties, listening to the adorable sound they make as they drink water, seeing my stepdaughter smile and feel more confident than she was a year ago, and feeling my significant other’s body lying/sitting/standing next to me. None of these things require a trip to the mall or my wallet. They are life’s freebies, and I embrace them like they are pure gold!

  16. Kylie says:

    Absolutely fucking bang on! EXACT truth! Thanks for such a legendary note I’ve sent it to all my fabourite people. Bless u! X

  17. Stephen says:

    Brilliant…thank you. 🙂

  18. tammy says:

    wow very smart writer happiness is given to us at birth if we seek it…….

  19. Melissa says:

    Great article!! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.