Does anyone else feel like we’re under constant pressure to be happyhappyhappy all the time? Find joy in every moment! Be present and mindful! Find your true calling! Kick that depression to the curb! All great ideas, but does anyone else kind of wish that it would be acceptable to sometimes be simply content. Would it be nice to have the pressure off and be able to simply to endure the down periods, perhaps with a solid coping strategy?
Sometimes life is hard. All of us have difficulties in the important relationships in our lives. Sometimes we fail to enjoy every second of our livelihoods. We go through blah periods, sometimes for no particular reason. For me, when this happens, I don’t want to go full throttle on happiness, I just want to feel OK. Isn’t OK enough?
I’m going to sound old here, but as I remember it, constant happiness wasn’t always something we aspired to. I don’t participate in organized religion, but from what I can tell, most religions teach humility in the face of difficulty. It used to be that you accepted that life would contain a certain amount of hardship and you developed ways to cope with that.
Not ways to convince yourself that every curse is a blessing, just ways to cope.
Grief, mourning, acceptance – these were all valid processes. Now it seems that people are uncomfortable with even admitting that grief is a real thing. There’s a tendency to celebrate a life rather than be sad over the end of it. There’s a tendency to see every failure as an opportunity. What’s wrong with seeing it as a failure, being frustrated and saddened by it, accepting those unpleasant feelings, and then eventually moving on from them?
This has been on my mind lately because even though my life overall is going really well, I sometimes feel pressure (likely self-imposed) to squeeze every last drop of exceptional living from every day, when sometimes all I want to do is sit and read, or watch a dopey TV show, or go for a walk. Sometimes I want to eschew the epic mountain bike ride, or the blow out party, or the visit to a place of staggering scenic beauty. But then I feel vaguely guilty for not making the most of the limited days I have been given. Then that completely harshes my mellow and makes even contentment harder to achieve.
So, I’m declaring a moratorium on compulsory happiness. If I want to stay home and read a book, and get my exercise by strolling around my neighborhood enjoying the sunshine, views, and sound of jet takeoffs, then so be it. And who knows, maybe I’ll stumble across some joy-inducing blackberries.