It’s true. Positivity isn’t happiness. Sometimes people say to be they hope to be most positive, but I get the feeling what they’re actually thinking of is ‘happy’. Positivity doesn’t really have a lot to do with happiness, other than the fact that positivity might create a little more room for the good stuff. It’s more important than happiness. You don’t have to be happy all the time. In fact, you are not going to be happy all the time. That is normal and healthy and okay.
Particularly in the USA, but subtly pervading elsewhere too, happiness is practically your expected ‘default mode’. People grow up thinking they’re meant to be happy all the time, and that every second they aren’t blissfully happy is some kind of failure. It’s not. This standard has been set because it’s impossible to reach. Happiness has become a prime commodity – companies can package it up and sell it to us, knowing full well constant happiness is impossible. When we fail to be continually happy, we wonder what is wrong with us, regard ourselves as failures, and find ourselves once again buying things we think might ‘fix’ us. The process may not be so obvious, but it’s there, ingrained in our culture and getting in the way.
As a healthy human being, you are meant to experience a variety of emotions. Ranging from anger and sadness to happiness and joy. Too long in either end of the spectrum often isn’t pretty – ‘dangerous risk taking’ and irrational behaviour are attributed to both high and low moods. However, somewhere in the middle there is contentedness. I always strive to be content. It is a solid middle ground that you can always come back to after feeling some of those stronger emotions, while still being in the ‘positive zone’. When content we feel grateful and calm and rested. It is relaxing and natural, and the best state for productivity.
Positivity isn’t about forcing yourself to feel happy and joyous about everything. If you are prancing around with a giant smile saying “HELLO FLOWERS! HELLO SUN! HELLO WORLD I LOVE YOU!!!” all the time, you’re probably just going to get tired and bored. We feel a range of emotions because they help us stay safe and healthy. Some days the sun is just way too hot and it makes you grumpy. Some days everyone is annoying you because you need some peace and quiet. You might cry everyday after a break up or a loss, because you are sad. It’s all normal until you’re spending too long in the extremes, having trouble controlling yourself, and a bunch of other things that are the Beast of Possible Mental Illness (see a doctor if possible in this case).
Everyday Mindfulness recently said on Twitter:
The things we do to avoid or try to cope with feeling negative emotions may be more counterproductive than the emotions. #mindfulness
— Everyday Mindfulness (@mindfuleveryday) February 15, 2015
I really agree. You must never force yourself to feel anything. Life is going to make you feel lots of different things, and positivity simply helps you cope a bit better by ensuring you have the coping skills to stay on task and feel confident. Happiness is a false ideal, dreamed up by people who want to sell it back to you and, ultimately, ensure your continued misery. Swap this ideal for contentedness, remain self-aware and practice being grateful, letting go, patience, and kindness.