Why You Should Remove Happiness From Your New Year Intention
We live in a society that praises happiness and positivity. We compete for happiness and pressure ourselves to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts and negative emotions with positive emotions. We have created a culture that looks at struggle with shame and mental health with stigma. We hear in our workout classes to “Ignore those thoughts… push through… don’t listen… be strong.” And so we go about our days with this tough shield on protecting us from being perceived as “weak.”
What we really need to be teaching our children, our selves, our friends and our loved ones is that happiness is not the answer to living a fulfilled life. If we are constantly striving for happiness, comparing our lives to others who may appear "happy" and feeling as though there is something we are lacking, there is only room for disappointment. In a world where so many of us face struggles, how is it that so many of us often feel alone in our struggles? How is it that so many of us feel silenced and ashamed of our struggles? And yet, the person sitting next to you at the restaurant, in line behind you at the gas station or driving next to you in traffic has probably felt feelings of deep loneliness, sadness, shame, guilt and anger at some point or for most of their life.
Every single emotion we experience serves a purpose, especially the most painful ones. They tell us so much about what we value. The truth is, we cannot experience the positive emotions without the negatives. We cannot know love without knowing grief from loss. If we pressure the children in our lives to “stop crying” and “suck it up,” where is the room to learn and build resiliency? Often times our struggles are ten times harder because we don’t want to experience the negative emotions that come along with it. We tend to avoid them by covering up with positive thoughts or insisting "I'm fine." If we don’t fully allow ourselves to experience emotions as deeply as they can be experienced, we are stripping ourselves of one of the most beautiful privileges of humanity: feeling. The next time someone asks you, "how are you?" don't hold back. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and willing to be honest about what you're truly feeling. Take the time to sit with your negative emotions and get to know them. If you're willing to experience them, you will at the very least decrease suffering. Suffering happens when we resist what "is." Feel it all. Let it be. Love all of you, not just the good parts.
“Contentment” and “gratitude” are better alternatives to be considered in your New Year intention. Try replacing the word "happy" with "grateful" and watch yourself light up a bit more. I'm so ̶h̶a̶p̶p̶y̶ grateful you're reading this. All my love to you.