Thank you for being here. I'm sure you're wondering, "what in the world does this question even mean?" I hear you, and I'm happy that you are choosing to investigate a little bit.
This is actually not meant to be a question, but a phrase, and it is one of my favorite phrases. I find that people are under so much pressure to be happy.
Now this may come as a surprise to you, because I'm constantly evangelizing happiness, hopefulness, optimism, and skills and strategies that will help you to experience more energy, inspiration and motivation.
So consider this statement a strategy that will actually bring about more happiness.
I find that today people are under so much pressure to be happy, to act happy, and to present themselves as being "fine". It's as if Happiness is the only emotion in the market, the only one that we should be feeling.
Not only that but somehow people function under the illusion that they have to be in perfect control of their emotions and their thoughts. It's certainly true that we can influence what we feel, but to assume that we can just say "just get over it!" or "can't you just be happy?" is just plain ignorant.
Happiness, peace, and contentment are great. When we are happy, things have a tendency to run smoothly. We are more relaxed, more approachable, more hopeful, and the data clearly shows that we are more likely to succeed and act effectively. We're more likely to experiment and try new things, we worry less... It's great and easy!
I definitely prefer it. But I don't engage in the silly and erroneous notion that we have to be happy every moment. It's not helpful; it's damaging! It promotes emotional immaturity.
What is emotional maturity? Emotional maturity is the ability to experience the full spectrum of emotions, while retaining a worthwhile and purposeful direction... while remaining rooted, aligned, and moving forward in meaningful ways.
Most of us can handle happiness, but how many of us can handle the really challenging emotions of life, namely anger, sadness, grief, fear, disgust, shame, regret, loneliness, to name a few.
"I'm happy till I'm not," communicates an acceptance and a willingness to experience other emotions other than happiness. Funny that when I'm willing to experience the full spectrum of emotions, that I feel happier more of the time.
It's interesting that when I'm accepting of my other emotions, willing to look at them, be with them, and examine what is in them for me, that I shift away from them much quicker, and find myself at peace, content, and experiencing more joy.
In psychology we have a short adage that we use to summarize this interesting phenomenon, "what we resist, persists," the opposite might also communicate some truth "what we experience with willingness, and a humble and open heart, heals quicker and more effectively."
Imagine a piano keyboard. It has 88 keys of limitless possibilities. Imagine that the piano keyboard is a representation of the possible emotions you can feel, ranging all of the way from the high notes, all the way down to the dark, full, rich tones of the lower notes.
I can understand that some of us only want to play the high notes of life, and yet, is there not a beautiful depth that is added when both hands are played together? Is there not a wonderful contrast, that in a way makes the other notes of life more real and meaningful?
If we are truly honest with ourselves, is it not true that much of our growth has occurred as a result of experiencing the low notes of life? Look, i'm not trying to say that that's the only way to learn, and yet, think of the powerful lessons in your life, and see if you don't recognize those low undertones surrounding that process.
All that I'm suggesting is a willingness to experience fear, sadness, discomfort, anger, grief, shame, boredom, loneliness, anguish, among others. If you ever notice fear walking into the same room and taking a seat next to you, sit with it. Look into it, and wonder what it is telling you.
I'm reminded of a quote from one of my favorite movies of my teenage years, Dune. "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
Perhaps your current relationship with your emotions is one of avoidance; wherein you avoid difficult emotions at all times. Perhaps it is one of shame or guilt, where you feel ashamed that you are feeling sad, or angry, or resentful.
Look to learn from your emotions.
Remember that most of your emotions are a manifestation of your internal ideologies and philosophies.
Become an observer, and a student of your emotions.
Receive them as you would a child.
Teach it if you must.
Increase its understanding; soothe it, as you would an alarmed child.
You will find that as you change your relationship to your emotions, then they will begin to feel differently.
The fact that you are no longer freaking out, about freaking out, will allow you to shift from those emotions in a much more desirable way for you. We fear, fear. Panic about panic. Feel ashamed about shame. Feel depressed about being depressed.
Resisting and hating our emotions, will only contribute to their power over us. Accepting them, listening to them, will increase our ability to experience them while still maintaining our chosen direction.
As you become a student... a scientist of your emotions and thoughts, they will become less rigid and oppressive. Instead, your sense of contentment will grow. Your ability to experience joy and growth will ensue more naturally.
You will stop fighting yourself, and instead, begin learning from yourself. So when you're happy... lovely! When you're not... great, lovely! When you're not then stay, listen, learn and be grateful.
I know that may sound like a stretch, and you are absolutely right. It is a stretch away from a previously condemning philosophy, which has held you hostage. So remember, don't worry, and be happy... till you're not.