Being positive is something that I tout often as something that has helped me immensely in my life. And it unequivocally has. Cultivating a positivity practice is one thing that allowed me to climb out of the depths of depression and love my life more than I ever thought possible – all without the use of antidepressants.
Positivity allowed me and continues to allow me to see beauty in the world no matter what my life is like. Being positive is why I’m able to trust in my journey and my path. It’s comforting to be able to do this and gives me faith to keep moving on when I don’t feel like it.
Being positive is an attitude towards life, which is very different than happiness.
There is a lot of talk in our world about pursuing happiness. Sometimes, I feel like the dominant dialogue in our society says that we should pursue a life that is only 100% happy. And that this is actually achievable.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s immensely important to pursue things that give us joy and meaning, for our lives are short. But, this notion of a 100% happy life is a lie.
Of course, I think it’s only natural to want to be as happy as we can be, for as much time as we can be. I think that’s still a worthy goal in life, but at the end of the day, being happy 100% of the time is just as imbalanced and impractical as being sad 100% of the time.
Happiness is an emotion. Clinging to something that is absent from your life, even if it’s just for a moment or a day can cause unnecessary suffering. Now, there are certainly things within your control that you can do to enhance feelings of happiness and feel it more often (like being positive), but the bottom line is that you won’t feel happiness all day, everyday.
Have you ever told yourself, “I know I shouldn’t feel this way”? I certainly have. At one point, my only goal was happiness. I almost became fearful of other emotions because I knew what it was like to be at the other end of the spectrum.
This is the breaking point of when pursuing happiness goes too far. When we use it as an avoidance tactic to protect ourselves from feeling true sadness or pain that must be felt as a part of life. Or if we use it as a way to invalidate other emotions, downplaying their importance and stuffing them deep inside.
In fact, in my case, I think burying pain and sadness is one thing that caused my depression to linger long after the painful events in my life were done and over with. When we bury our emotions, we essentially turn what was a painful external event inwards, directing the pain towards ourselves.
We force ourselves to carry the burden of that pain and sadness around, instead of feeling it and letting it move through us. This is sadness and pain that we bring upon ourselves. It’s ironic, by trying to avoid the pain, we only multiply it.
If we’re always pressuring ourselves to feel happy, then in times when we genuinely need to feel other emotions, it makes us feel even worse that we’re feeling bad.
Even if it’s happiness that you desire most, the best way to achieve it is to be accepting of all your emotions. To not say “I shouldn’t feel this way”, but instead, to give yourself permission to feel anything that comes to the surface.
And when you experience those moments when you don’t know why you feel the way you do, get curious. It is often in these moments where those buried emotions are coming up for a little air. You just might be able to release that buried emotion, leading you ultimately to a little more happiness.
Above all, we are emotional beings and we need to feel everything in order to feel happy. As Brené Brown says, we cannot selectively numb emotions. You numb one, you numb them all, including happiness.
The variety of emotions are important. It’s what make joy and happiness special. It’s why we should cherish moments of happiness, but not beat ourselves up when the moment brings something else. Being positive is the attitude that allows us to feel these emotions and know that everything will be ok.
Sometimes the shortest path to happiness is indeed a choice in how you’re interpreting your circumstances. Sometimes the shortest path is the choice you need to make to honor the reality of your circumstances.
Be positive. Seek to feel and your life will be full of many things, including happiness.
Much love and gratitude,