*Warning: well-deserved cursing ahead!
Have you ever made happiness your goal? I have.
As a kid I got the message from the big people that I “should be happy.”
As I was growing up, I thought that “being happy” meant that I was supposed to feel good all the time, because that’s what other people wanted and preferred so I did everything possible to act happy and avoid expressing pain or discomfort, stuffing anything that threatened my relationships.
And this is what most kids do.
Like so many of my friends, I was doing my best to make it look like I was happy, because that’s what I was told to be (i.e. “You better wipe that frown off your face right now…”). Sure, sometimes I was genuinely happy and had amazing moments, like any kid. But some of the time I was hurting.
So being a smart little lad, I learned to stuff my hurting. All it took was being called “cry baby” or “weak” or a “girl” once or twice and it taught me to bury those strong “negative” emotions otherwise other people wouldn’t like me and I’d lose relationship with them.
And, this was my actual experience: I lost relationship when I wasn’t “good” or “happy.” People got upset and went away.
Because that sucked, and because I felt pretty inadequate at the time, and really wanted acceptance, it became easy to play the “act happy” game but it came at the expense of my authentic self-expression.
My mask, of course, was an act and it’s what most people do on Facebook, in social settings, and business meetings.
Ever notice how people just post half of their life on social media? Just the good stuff, the fun moments, the victories, the happy stuff? Where’s the dark shit? The anger, the rage? the insecurities? The greed, the selfishness, the lying?
Well, most people are like I was: They hide the “bad” stuff and only present the good stuff. Why? Because we are supposed to be happy, god dammit! And, when you are hurting, you are making other people uncomfortable.
And, this is the game most people play.
And, because most people are suckers for a good game, they also buy products and services that sell happiness. Why? Because deep down inside no one is happy all the time. In fact, as a former psychotherapist and now relationship coach, I’d say most people are miserable, scared, insecure and feel pretty bad about themselves. Look at generation Y and the mounting evidence about how entitled and miserable many of them are.
That’s why happiness sells like hot cakes.
Get the latest thing and be happy!
Even the new agers do this. “Get more spiritual and you’ll be more happy!” “My happiness destination is just around the corner after my next yoga teacher training or my next meditation retreat.” Enlightenment is the new happy.
The smart ones eventually see that this is a sham and that it’s impossible to be in a constant state of happiness.
What I notice about people is that the more they chase happiness, the more miserable they are.
So you can fuck happiness or it can fuck you. Your choice.
Remember, happiness is awesome, yes. But like any human emotional experience, it’s temporary.
Instead of buying into the happiness trap, watch it come and go like the clouds, and then be ready for a much more satisfying experience which includes sadness and happiness—love.
Author: Jayson Gaddis
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: lookcatalog/Flickr, illustration by Daniella Urdinlaiz