CAROL'S CORNER : Is Happiness Overrated?

Carol’s Corner

Is Happiness Overrated?

It seems to me that happiness has received a lot of attention lately. I have noticed an uptake in the number of spiritual gurus and self help speakers dedicating themselves to help us become “happy”.

I’m not sure I buy into all the attention. I believe in happiness and it is way better than being sad or angry and I do try to be happy as much as possible. However, the state of happiness is not always possible. I don’t think you can “will” yourself happy and I don’t think you should necessarily be happy all of the time.  It seems both irresponsible and impossible to be happy all of the time or to try and create “happiness” when there are no external stimulus providing the circumstances.

We are born with a full array of emotions for a reason and it is extremely appropriate to use them, to be sad, remorseful, angry, upset, or grieving. I believe it is healthy and necessary for us to experience grief, and anger and all the rest of our emotions so we can better manage them. I believe if we don’t let the stress, anger and grief out, it manifests inward causing disease.

I don’t know if we should even look to be “happy” all of the time or even the majority of it. How will we truly know the difference? We need to experience the full spectrum of emotion. The antiqued notion that men shouldn’t cry is a great example of repression and an unhealthy outlook toward emotions and their functions.

Sometimes we are at a point in our lives where we cannot be happy. Something in our life is making us unhappy. For some reason it is no longer acceptable to grieve or to be upset.

“Get over it” is a familiar response. We try whatever we can to avoid negative feelings. They have to come out somehow, otherwise they fester from within, we cannot erase them.

I don’t wish to be misconstrued that I expect or want people to be depressed or not to try and alleviate their sadness.  What do we do if we do want to focus on our happiness? Do we really think that daily affirmations can“will” us happy?

I believe there is too much emphasis on working on one’s own happiness within the context only of one’s self.  Perhaps, if we turned our gaze outside ourselves we might find it quicker.  

For instance,  look at holidays and celebrations; Christmas morning for example, isn’t it far more joyful and exciting to watch others open your gifts and see their happiness, then when you open your own? How many of us feel the joy and happiness within when we do something for someone else? We increase our own opportunities for happiness and self worth when we are in the service of others, it happens organically, without us even paying attention or seeking it as the means to our happiness end.

It is my contention that in order for us to truly be happy and to experience more of it, we just need to give to others, to be of “service” to others, and in that giving we will find our own happiness and contentment. Focusing less on ourselves and opening up to others in need give us more chances for our own happiness. Sometimes the act of giving is an even greater gift for the giver than the recipient. When we step outside of ourselves we free our mind and expectations, we become more available to naturally let the light in. Perhaps the best recipe for happiness is letting go of“self” and just being. Interaction with others, helping others in need and just smiling and making contact can lead to happiness within. A smile is a powerful tool in the pursuit of happiness, if you use it as much as you can, I believe it lends itself to creating happiness far more readily than spouting affirmations.

Of course, I don’t’ expect you to just follow my opinion, I offer you the challenge to try this yourself.

Try both, use affirmations and the “tools” of self soothing, and then try the more altruistic, outward approach of forgetting about one’s self and doing for others, and let me know which brought more immediate and longer term happiness?