Being unhappy

This is one of those days where I feel really uninspired. You know… That kind of a day where you feel that you just cannot be happy. The sort of days where the universe seems to conspire against you to ensure that you are further away from being happy than what you thought you could be.

Then you look at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever media that counts as social these days and see everyone smiling, having a great time, moving on up in the world. And you wonder why you can’t be like them. Why can’t I just be happy?

But I remind my self that life is full of ups and definitely downs. There are bound to be things that do not go the way we think they “should”. It is normal then that there would be times when things happen that make us upset and far from being happy. And that is ok. To quote Rocky, “Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.”

But all of us want to be happy. Not being happy is not a good feeling. It is uncomfortable. The irony is that by focusing on how bad not being happy feels will actually make us even unhappier. Humans are strange in that we suffer that we suffer. We are unhappy that we are unhappy. Being unhappy worries us, vexes us, frustrates us.

Our fear of being judged certainly does not help. We seem to have been made to believe that that being unhappy is something wrong. With most people posting happy, smiley photos on social media, we are worried that we would be the laughing stock if people knew that we are unhappy. And so we try to put up a brave front. We force ourselves to appear happy, to smile and laugh even though we are actually unhappy. All these things taken together creates a dangerous vortex of unhappiness that sucks us down into depression, draining us, paralyzing us.

There is, thankfully, good news. There are things I think we can do to get out of the rut.

The first thing that we can do is to accept the state of unhappiness, accept that Murphy is quite right, that anything that can go wrong will go wrong and Forrest Gump’s wise words are as true today as when he first said them, “Shit happens.”

Yes, we would rather prefer NOT to be unhappy. But being unhappy that we are unhappy is not going to help. So why not just accept that “unhappiness feeling”? And stop being unhappy that we are unhappy. Be mindful of the state of unhappiness, but not judge. Just watch it calmly and kindly, as we would watch our breath.

The second thing is to remember that our state of unhappiness, like everything else, is probably transient. Nothing lasts forever. Not even our state of unhappiness. With the passage of time, everything, even our state of unhappiness, will end. This too, shall pass. And the sooner we are at peace with the transience of everything, including our state of happiness, the sooner we would be able to move away from our state of unhappiness.

And because state of unhappiness that we may find ourselves in is transient, we should remind ourselves that we are more than our state of unhappiness. The state of unhappiness that we are experiencing is but a single transitory aspect of the myriad emotional states that we go through in our lives. We can be happy too. Chances are, we have been happy before. Why not count our blessings to remind ourselves then that we are more than just a single state of unhappiness.

Lastly, don’t bottle it all in. Misery seeks company. Not so that we are out to make other people miserable and unhappy too, but more because of the talking it out to someone we can trust to be empathetic, compassionate and non-judgmental provides an outlet for the negativity. It would be helpful if that friend can also play the role of a coach/mentor. That friend can then help you look at things from a different perspective. He might even offer you practical assistance or advice to solve the issues that put you in the state of unhappiness.

But even if that is not the case, simply talking to a good friend is great catharsis. Talking about things that we are unhappy about with close friends (and family) can also strengthen the relationship. It allows us the opportunity to form deeper connections with them. In fact, unhappiness (or sadness) can help make us happier eventually.

So. If you are currently in a state of unhappiness… don’t beat yourself up over it. Be kind to yourself. It will pass. You are more than just that single state of unhappiness. Talk to a (few) good friends. And you will be happy again. In fact, handle it well and the unhappy episode can serve as a foundation for greater happiness.

So. Breathe. All is well.

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