As I dived into the task of writing the last chapter of my book I thought about our obsession with happiness.
Lately I feel that I'm a pretty happy person. My life is more then stable, and outside of writing my book I'm incredibly happy about the job that I have. My relationship with my husband is better then ever, and watching my kids grow and learn makes my heart swell with pride at all that they accomplish.
But, I haven't always been this happy. In fact, this happiness is a relatively new concept for my life. When I think about my own happiness or talk about it I realize that, wow, I didn't know anyone could feel this way about their own life.
What I know, is that most people never get to this point and if they do it can be fleeting. I'm one of the lucky ones.
Shawn and I started reading a book together called: Solve For Happy
Something gifted to him from his employer. We haven't even close to finished it, and sure what we have read has been enlightening, like all self-help/motivational books it's full of advice on how to create your own happiness and live in a state of low expectations so that when you are pleasantly surprised by life, well, it feels pleasant.
I've read a lot of self-help. I've felt that I've needed a lot of motivation to push myself forward. I've been witness to many motivational speakers who have all of the empowering words to share and afterward I've felt incredibly inspired and like I can accomplish anything! I LOVE that feeling! It makes me feel happy! They've done their job well. I aspire one day to be one such motivational speaker, but...
I have a feeling that my message will be quite different.
Never before have I ever been told that it's OK to feel anything other then happiness. Now, I have two children of my own and have just finished my first year teaching 4yr old preschool students. I see the world quite a bit differently, and I am so grateful for the children in my life who give me a new perspective. At such an age they aren't being handed pills to overcome their emotional pains in life, but as adults, we are. Children are told to embrace how they feel, at least mine are, and the dozens of pinterest ideas floating around on the internet tell me that both parents and teachers are helping children realize that their emotional pain is OK to feel. But again as adults, who's telling you it's OK to feel that way?! You feel depressed? Here's a pill. Here's a self-help book. Not to mention the endless fights people have with one another because we don't understand each others feelings in any situation and as we grow into adults, and circumstances grow more complicated, we are taught to supress how we feel, and fight it with medication, or just don't talk about it.
Our society is obsessed with happiness. If you don't feel happiness, let's figure out how to solve that problem. It's a problem to feel anything other then happiness.
Why is it OK for children to embrace their pain, but not adults? Why as adults do we switch that message?
Without spoiling too much of what I've written in my book I will go ahead and tell you that I grew up surrounded by people in pain. People who used a myraid of methods to suppress that pain and pretend it didn't exist, thus creating more pain because no one understood what they were going through. We desperately want other people to see it and to understand it, but for whatever reason that either we've told ourselves, or has been implied by our surroundings, we keep it bottled up.
I am by no means a psychologist, but this seems wrong.
I can't say what the answers are to solving this problem, but I do believe that in trying to solve our saddness problem we are creating a bigger problem. We live in a world that is teaching our youth to be perfect, and unless we manage to become so, which no one ever does, our lives are worthless. What an awful feeling to have. To feel worthless.
I personally want to change this. I don't know how yet, but I want to contribute my voice to this cause. We are wired to feel a huge range of emotions, happiness shouldn't be the default expectation.