Before I get to the subject of this post (i.e get to some serious writing), I'll say a few words about the location and the casual outfit styling I'll also be sharing. The outfit I'm presenting today is dominated by two colours: purple and blue. I'm wearing a vintage striped sweater, topped with a navy statement sleeve blouse and a pair of jeans. Thick sweaters can be tricky to layer so I was a bit surprised this combo worked out so well. It was certainly a very comfy outfit. Who says you can't look cute while hiking, right? These photographs were taken not too long ago, during one of my typical weekend trips. I always say that weekends are the perfect time to get out in the open and/or spend some time in the nature. The location for these photographs is another of my happy places, a hill named Planinica (literally translated it means a small mountain). Being one of the hills that surrounds Mostar city, Planinica often serves as a hiking destination for me. Speaking of happy places, today I want to talk about happiness.
Today I want to talk about an interesting topic: the pursuit of happiness. It's everywhere around us, this idea that happiness is something we can earn, buy or trade. The problem with this idea is that it doesn't work at all. Still, the smiling face is the one that sells. I feel that it sometimes leaves us with impression that we need to try to achieve happiness at all times and with every means. Is that really a good idea? Can trying to be happy can have the opposite effect?
Much has been said about the value of positive thinking. While I do agree that the ability to think in a positive way is and can be a skill of utmost importance, especially in this day and time, as with most things there is a danger of taking it too far. I’m not in favour of forced positive thinking. Not at all. I feel that these days there is this massive pressure to be happy all the time. We are told we should be able to rise over everything. It’s not only unrealistic but also more than a bit insane. This obsession with happiness in my view only makes people unhappy. There is such a thing as trying too hard. I remember reading somewhere that we have never had so many happiness books and manuals published and so many deeply unhappy people. Not to criticize self-books as such, but clearly they are not enough.
WHY PRETENDING TO BE HAPPY NEVER WORKS OUT IN THE LONG RUN
What is enough? Well, that’s a complex questions, and there is no such thing as one size fits all. Everyone must find what makes them happy- and when they do, they need to realize it’s something that is subject to change. I’ve been thinking about this subject for the last few days. I might not be able to say what is enough to be happy, but I can tell you what it is not enough. It is not enough to wish for something for it to become true. It is not enough to keep convincing ourselves that everything is fine when it isn’t. It’s not enough to expect to be perfectly happy all the time. It’s rather childish, really. Being frustrated at ourselves and the world because our visualizations aren’t becoming reality and the things aren’t going as planned. Things almost never go as planned, and even when they do, when we get exactly what we wanted and dreamed for, we still can end up unhappy.
I sometimes wonder who come up with this idea of being super hyped, enthusiastic and energetic all the time in the first place. What was wrong with understanding that humans are complex beings who experience a whole array of emotions? When has sadness become a taboo topic, an enemy of our modern society? Yes, today we have some opportunities that we didn’t have in the past. Yes, we can connect with others through social media and so on. However, technology really doesn’t make a profound difference when it comes to our happiness. It’s still very much a personal pursuit and no button or gadget can fight this one for us.
YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT
Let’s take, for example, our relationship with other people. Let’s say you have one person you’re deeply connected with. It might be your mother, a friend, a relative or a love interest. When somethings good happens to that person, you’ll be over the moon but when something bad happens to them, you’ll be heart-broken. You can have the one without the other, you either care about the person or you don’t. If you care, than you’ll be emphatic and share (to the degree at least) that person’s emotions. When we look at this example, we see that happiness and sadness can be two sides of the same coin. Similarly, many words are today portrayed as negative, and we tend to forget that words achieve their meaning only within the context. In other words, you can have the dictionary definition but until you string a sentence together, you’re not really saying anything.
WHEN BEING UNHAPPY ACTUALLY MAKES SENSE
I find this modern paranoia of every kind of negative feeling ultimately destructive. It’s not good to live in fear of anything, negative feelings included. Sometimes being unhappy is not only a learning experience, but one that is absolutely necessary. Trying to suppress the blues at every cost can end up costing us dearly. Our emotions can tell us so many things about ourselves. In addition, we cannot really suppress them fully- not unless we want to turn into robots. Sometimes unhappiness can tell us more about ourselves than any happiness ever could. Look at it this way, if you were perfectly happy with where you were, then you wouldn’t be really motivated to work on yourself, would you?
OPTIMISTIC THINKING TAKEN WITH A GRAIN OF SALT
Optimism has clear advantages. As somebody said, being an optimist is simply more fun. People often perceive me as a very optimistic person. I'm not sure what to make of that. The older I get I tend to see both the advantages and disadvantages of pretty much everything. I think I'm neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I do see how being an optimist is more fun. It really is. However, being overly optimistic can cause us a number of problems. Like with everything in life, it’s all about finding balance. I’m all for optimism, but I aspire towards developing a realistic kind of optimism.
What do you think about this subject? What is more important, being happy or being authentic? Is sadness really that terrible? Have you ever learned something from those emotions that are often deemed negative? I know I have. Moreover, I learned a great deal more than from those so called 'positive' ones. I feel like there are so many emotions that carry a stigma of being negative, that we forget that any emotion can make sense in certain circumstances. We shouldn't live in fear of being unhappy. You can't force happiness. Not really. Check out this article for a scientific explanation of difference between pleasure and happiness. They're really not the same thing. You can buy pleasure but you can't buy happiness. So, we might as well relax and try to get to know ourselves. Because getting to know ourselves is where it all starts. Thank you for reading. Your comments are always appreciated.