Ok To Not Feel Happy All Of The Time
Ok To Not Feel Happy All Of The Time
Dear Tacit,

I see so many articles about trying to feel positive and happy all the time.  My life is not bad – I am not depressed – but I am not always really happy either.  Is there something wrong with me?

Signed: Ok To Not Feel Happy All Of The Time

Dear Ok To Not Feel Happy All Of The Time,

Absolutely not!  The views we get online into other people’s lives more often show us their “highlight” reels – or how someone wants to be seen, rather than a true representation of how things are really going in the harder moments.  Many social media platforms have created algorithms that push articles about positivity to the top of our viewing reels, which also makes this search for the perpetual state of bliss look more common than it really is.  It is completely healthy and okay to not feel happy all of the time! That would be an unrealistic expectation.  Life is not perfect – disappointments and disasters happen – and things get hard.  That’s what is truly “normal”.

I do not wish suffering or sadness on any of us.  But I would like to encourage you to look at a feeling of “meh”, or even challenging moments that try our patience from time to time, from another perspective.  There are actually some really helpful and healthy outcomes from the periods of time in our lives when things are not so wonderful.  First of all, human beings are not biologically or psychologically designed to feel “ecstatic” all of the time.  Happiness requires a great deal of energy – it is not an easy emotion to produce or to experience, physiologically.  If it was a constant thing, we would burnout – it would exhaust us – trying to maintain a state of elevated positivity at all times would absolutely drain us.  And like with anything that we get too much of, we would build a “tolerance” of sorts to that pinnacle feeling of happiness if it was the expected “norm” in our life.  The joy and pleasure that we experience would become “ordinary” and not have the special, unique quality that it brings when it is more occasional.

When we feel sad or frustrated or stressed out, our brain is talking to us – it is telling us that there is some sort of imbalance or a need that is not being met that requires our attention. If we pay attention to the signals from our brain, we can make the necessary changes that allow us to be in a healthier state – emotionally, physically and/or mentally.  We connect more to our own self, and we can live a more balanced, symbiotic life (which often prevents bigger and scarier issues from developing, like anxiety or depression disorders or chronic health problems).

When we are not gloriously happy, we develop a more open mindset (a growth mindset) and are willing to take chances and do things differently.  We are motivated to look for solutions to problems or fixes for annoyances.  We can be introspective and get creative with how we wish things “could be”.  And we look ahead to what path we want to take next in life, propelling ourselves forward (so we don’t get stuck in a rut).  When we embrace these new perspectives, they bring us new experiences and opportunities in life.  We build coping skills and resiliency.  We develop trust and confidence within ourselves, to know we can manage more difficult moments with success.

What many people discover (and science backs this up) is that true happiness (a positive feeling that can be maintained over the long-term) is actually more about the contentment and peace we find in each step of the journey that we are taking, rather than in the thrill and high that comes as we achieve a specific goal.  Don’t get me wrong – those bursts of true happiness are sweet when they happen.  There is nothing wrong with embracing them and enjoying them fully.

But a regular state of satisfaction and fulfilment is something we can maintain over a long period of time with no harmful side effects.  It is a balanced state of calm that is created when we weather the little ups and downs of life and find a flow that feels comfortable and smooth.  Feeling “okay” or level/on an even keel might actually be more of a reflection of a state of serenity than a worrisome indicator of unhappiness.  But only you can tell.  You will have to spend a little time truly thinking about your life – without the expectation of a state of bliss as the goal you are striving for.  If you change the measuring stick you are using and make it more realistic and healthier, you will see that there is nothing at all wrong with you.  And in fact, you may discover that you are much closer to that feeling of true and realistic sense of positivity and happiness than you even realized!

Take care!

Do you have a question you would like us to address? Please feel free to reach out to us at counsellors@tacitknows.com. Your answer will be provided confidentially. 

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