January 29, 2021

It Takes Courage to be Happy When We’re in the Midst of Pain.


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A post shared by Elyane S Youssef (@elyaneyoussef)

While I was playing my old playlist yesterday, a song that was dear to my heart came up.

A lot of painful memories flooded back, as I remembered what the song triggered in me at that time.

Ah, it felt so great back then. Listening to that song validated my pain and strengthened the painful situation I was going through. It was beautiful to see my heart shattering to many pieces.

The ironic part was that I liked it. I enjoyed putting that song on repeat and feeling my most irritating emotions. I enjoyed playing it while showering and bursting into tears where no one could hear me.

I loved my pain even though it made me unhappy at times.

But I never admitted it back then—I denied that my pain was a source of misery to me. On the contrary, I wanted to keep feeling it because it gave me a reason to live. All the great artists of our time used their pain to create art. Why should I be any different from them?

Of course, I was happy in various areas in my life. But I didn’t want to let go of that specific pain. It was a great challenge for me to be happy without the presence of an agonizing struggle that momentarily took away my inner peace. So I made sure to keep that painful tiny bit in my life, holding on to it tightly.

Not that it was wrong to struggle, but it was definitely wrong how I looked at my struggle: I felt that it was sufficient. For some reason, I thought that happiness or comfort could never give me a viable reason to live another day. Unconditional happiness looked fun, but it wasn’t interesting enough for me to keep me hooked.

For me, that unconditional happiness meant giving up on my suffering. It threatened the different scenarios I had weaved in my mind—I certainly didn’t need that slap.

The truth is, I was just lying to myself: I was only scared to be happy. I only realize this now. When I listened to that song yesterday, I could clearly see how terrified I was to write a new story. I willingly stayed in a doomed chapter, refusing to turn the page.

Happiness meant giving up on that chapter and letting go of all the characters involved, which was the hardest part of all.

As the song stopped playing, I realized that it took me so much courage to choose to be happy and to accept that struggling doesn’t have to be my main reason for surviving. Happiness can also be a great reason to live, and I have to let my pain be—if it sticks, then let it, if it subsides, then great.

But I wanted to stop breathing life into my pain. I wanted to stop giving it power and turning it into an essential identity that I couldn’t live without.

And choosing happiness wasn’t just an emotion I felt. It was a set of many decisions I had to take, many arduous roads to cross, and many disappointing thoughts to conquer.

It took me so much time to realize that we don’t get to choose one over the other. We don’t get to say “yes” to pain and “no” to joy. We are forever doomed to feel both. But we can choose which leads the way and dictates the quality of the rest of our days.

Happiness is a choice, and making that choice takes courage.

It takes courage to accept our pain, what doesn’t work, and not let it overshadow our entire vision.

It takes courage to see the good days that could be ahead of us.

It takes courage to say “yes” to the unknown, to close that chapter, and write a new story.

Which story do you choose to write today?

Know that pain is conditional. We always need a trigger to feel a negative or an unwanted emotion. Our pain is almost always dependent on a person, a memory, an event, or a situation. But happiness doesn’t need a trigger.

Unconditional happiness in a world that’s full of sad uncertainties is possible. It literally takes nothing to take a deep breath, look outside, look around you, look at yourself, and make a different choice that can ultimately make you happier.

Remember, for happiness to become a feeling, it first has to be a decision.

Are you making that decision?


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