May 29, 2017

The Idealization of “Happy.”


These are all beautiful little hashtags.

They look super cute on our super spiritual social media pages. These are also trendy words: Buzzwords. Words that are easy to punch into a keyboard. We’re throwing them around now, and people “like” and “follow” these words. It makes us feel really good for a moment, when we can self-proclaim how happy we are, or how authentic and vulnerable we are.

But are we? Do we really know what it means to be vulnerable?

Do we know that it’s okay to not be okay? That the darkness we feel from time to time is just as important as the moments of happiness? That one emotion is not more important than another? That we can’t really choose how we are going to feel—we can only observe, and choose how we will respond?

We don’t know this. We think only happiness is important.

We can choose if we are going to be reactive or not. This part is the choice. Happiness and sadness flow in without choice. Both of these emotions are important to feel. It’s the light and dark, the ying and yang. We just value happiness as a culture. We don’t value all the other very normal emotions that are an undeniably part of being human. Happiness is the safest one to feel. But we really should be valuing and experiencing all feelings.

There is also the idealization in the spiritual social media community of inner peace. There is this concept of only allowing happy people in your life, keeping inner peace. Manifesting love, manifesting abundance. Being positive. Positive mindset. Choosing how you feel. I’ve seen a lot of, “Whether it’s people, jobs, or circumstances, if it isn’t serving you, let it go.”

Everything that happens is serving us.

I get the concept. There are parts that ring true. I have had to close out many toxic people from my life. People who were trying to hurt me, because they were hurting. People who were hurting me indirectly, even though it wasn’t their intent. These are the people that are not aware of their emotions, or the impact of the reactions they have to their feelings. These are the people who aren’t growing. I agree, sometimes we need to let go.

There is a difference between letting go of these people, and letting go of anyone who feels emotions other than being happy. We can always work to vibrate at a higher frequency so more goodness can flow into our lives. We realize that the energy we put out there, comes back to us. I’m all about working on finding that inner peace, being careful that my wording and thoughts are positive—rewiring my thinking with affirmations, grounding, and forgiveness, and love, and happiness, and the shiny, sparkly Instagram beach picture perfection that we call “spiritual.” I’m not saying that feeling good is not a good thing!

However, we tend to idealize only happiness. We think if we aren’t happy all the time, we are doing something wrong. We are always chasing after happiness. But guess who is going to keep knocking on your door? Sadness. Because sadness needs to be chased and chosen from time to time too. Sadness is part of the equation. Sadness is just as important. Because of this idealization of happiness, many self-proclaimed spiritual gurus and motivational leaders are saying, “Close out anything that doesn’t bring you peace.”

You know what really brings us peace? Being able to work through moments of anger, sadness, despair, fear, hate, and jealousy. These normal, human emotions that we try to avoid ever feeling—the feelings that we run away from, and, therefore, form addictions in order to avoid feeling them.

Working through these emotions—without people giving up on you for having them—that is the true path! This is what it means to allow for vulnerability. Feeling what it is we need to feel at each and every moment, without fearing that it isn’t “happy enough” or “peaceful enough” or “good enough” or “positive enough” and, therefore, we are not going to manifest the best things in life. We fear that we won’t be spiritual enough—that our inner peace can never be shaken because if it is, we have somehow failed.

We manifest the best things in life by doing the hard work of allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is we need to feel, and not running away from these complex and, sometimes dark, emotions. Rather, we sit with them and observe what we are feeling, allowing ourselves to feel them, even if those feelings suck or hurt—allowing ourselves to feel the emotions that are associated with negativity, like anger and resentment.

We manifest the best things when we give people in our lives space to feel what it is they need to feel, even if it disturbs our inner peace temporarily.

Being human, we can’t always avoid the darkness that wants to flow in from time to time. Allowing for that darkness, allows for more light, and love, and goodness. Instead of running away from people who are feeling sad, so we can stay in our “always happy place,” how about we try to sit and feel with them? How about we hold some space for them?

It’s in these moments that we find happiness. It’s in these moments that we vibrate higher, and attract more. This is the way to living large, living loud, vibrating higher, being authentic, being in the moment, healing, elevating, growing, empowering, evolving, and all those other buzzwords we like to toss around. This is the way!

We can’t force our own happiness, or choose it every day. We can only be an observer of our feelings, and choose how we react. There is a difference. How we react to our feelings is our path to growing. Being able to feel what we need to feel, and then let go is the path to growing. To be gentle and loving with ourselves and others, regardless of the emotions that are being felt—without trying to fix, without abandoning.

Feelings are not good or bad, right or wrong. They just are. Our awareness and reactions to these feelings determines our level of happiness and growth. That’s positive mindset.

Happiness is in sadness. Sadness is in happiness.


Author: Kathryn Kos
Image: Tom Sodoge / Unsplash
Editor: Leah Sugerman

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