“Ever since the beginning, we have been on a quest for happiness. Everything we do has that one main purpose: to be happy.”
The unrealistic goal of every narrative ending in a “happily ever after” is no longer exclusive to children’s literature. It has become something of a cultural fixation. Ever since the beginning, we have been on a quest for happiness. Everything we do has that one main purpose: to be happy.
Although the pursuit of happiness is not new, it has become more prevalent in recent years. In our world, grief has no place. It has now been reduced to a pathological condition, a taboo—something to be eradicated. We live in a society that encourages us to “cry all you want in the restroom, but go back to the party as quickly as possible.” It is only natural for us to be joyful. Sadness, rage, and frustration are not. So, if “negative” feelings begin to seep in, we try to “fix” ourselves in a variety of ways—books, affirmations, apps, inspiring music or videos, therapy, expensive treats, and so on.
Surprisingly, despite the variety of happiness-inducing remedies available nowadays, we are now less happy and satisfied. We appear to be drifting further away from the goal we have always been striving for. It is now time for us to debunk the happy myth and establish new norms for what makes a happy life.
It’s okay to not be okay. I know you have already heard this before. But the more we normalize happiness, the more we forget that melancholy is a natural and understandable reaction to the pain and tragedies that are inescapable in the world we live in. We must recognize that emotions are not intrinsically positive nor negative. There are no pleasant or unpleasant feelings. It does not make an emotion terrible just because it is unpleasant right now. We must cease classifying emotions and allow them to move through us without resistance before we can strive for happiness. We make things more difficult for ourselves by judging our feelings.
When you place a high value on happiness above other emotions, you are more likely to conceal negative feelings. Suppression is not a good way to deal with emotions since the more you avoid thinking about something, the more you think about it. Focusing on happiness leads to the notion that long-term happiness should be our default condition. Happiness is no exception to the transitory nature of our emotions.
Every person is capable of finding enjoyment in the routine and calmness of daily life. Anything else is a bonus, not a must for living a happy life. We must also recognize one basic truth: achieving “happily ever after” was never our objective in the first place. What we want is to be able to feel all of our emotions without being overtaken by them. We are looking for emotional stability, not a life filled with joy. Happiness is not something that can be pursued. Happiness will follow after we accept ourselves as who we are. To remind you that it is alright to feel every emotion. It is what makes us human, after all.
LAYOUT BY: Sigrid Deryll Q. Dy