The Happiness Myth
In the pursuit of being human many of us believe that happiness is the ideal state of being. This comes from the pervasive myth in our culture that our natural state of being is “happy”. Our culture insists that humans are naturally happy. That if all our food, safety, shelter, love and belonging needs were met that we would just be happy all the time. This is categorically untrue. The reality is, the normal state for a human being is an ever changing flow of emotions. Emotions are like the weather, continually changing in the same day. This is the same for emotions. In the space of the morning we may move through 5-6 different emotions. You expect to feel anxious during a challenging situation like running late or missing your alarm, or feeling sadness when something doesn’t work out, like you don’t get the promotion you were hoping for or a friend lets you down with a plan to meet.
We often believe that we are defective if we are not happy. The reality is, if your not happy you are normal! Life is difficult and can be challenging, as well a rewarding and joyful. It is the balance of life. However, we often see ourselves as different to others. We look at other families or friends and think they must be happier than we are and that there must be something wrong with us. We don’t need to pathologise our normal emotions! It is these myths that lead to us feeling unfulfilled in our lives and anxious about ‘fixing’ our emotions. Emotions are normal, they naturally fluctuate. Not only does this myth effect us in the way we live our lives, but it can influence the way we raise our children and the messages we send to them, which can then effects them as they become young adults.
We live in a culture that is dominated by superficial ideas of what emotions are and what they mean, this causes children to be disconnected or overwhelmed when sensing their own feelings. Emotions are very important for everyday life. Our emotions are the energy force that drives things like the decisions we make and the how we manage and interpret the world around us. When an emotion is triggered in your brain, the nervous systems responds by creating feelings in your body (what many people refer to as a “gut feeling”), this then will create or link back to specific thoughts in your mind. A great deal of our decisions is informed by your emotional responses because that is what emotions are designed to do: to appraise and summarise an experience and inform your actions.
As a society it is time we stop perpetuating these unhelpful beliefs about emotions. We need to begin to collectively normalise and share our emotional experiences and realise true strength and bravery is being vulnerable. There is nothing wrong with you when you feel your emotions, this means your body and brain is working in-sync. It is time we all began listening to our internal systems and communicating and sharing this with others. Imagine the lives we could live if we just connected better to ourselves. Imagine the world we could create if we were all aware, accepting and able to listen to what we needed on an emotional and mental level.