Happy for Happiness Sake

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about happiness lately and just wanted to share a few brief ideas.

I’ve come to realize that my perspective is largely my own doing rather than something I entrust to others/ the external world, to provide (see an earlier post on Taking Back Happiness).

I also watched this recent clip from the Ellen Show where Ellen interviews Colin Farrell. While they talk about a bunch of things (yoga, his girlfriend search, etc.) they also discuss how he has been sober for 7 years and he talks about how he feared sobriety because he “was terrified that whatever my capacity as an actor was beforehand would disappear.” He then went on to say that he used to subscribe to the idea that “to express yourself artistically you have to live in perpetual pain – that’s nonsense…there’s enough pain in the world that you don’t have to live it to represent it in an artistic way.” This commentary really struck me, because I think I too, have thought that nurturing a wound would help me be more creative/expressive/ a better writer, etc., but that it would also somehow help me better empathize with others. Plus, nurturing wounds certainly provides ample fuel to the internal victimology fire, and well, there can be power in being a victim. It’s actually a bit liberating to realize that you don’t have to continually hold yourself to a negative state of being in order to find inspiration, relate to others, and just be. I can be free to be happy in my day to day AND still acknowledge and empathize with the struggle, pain and hardship that exists.

Then a friend recently sent me a post to this article on 15 Things To Give Up to Be Happy, and wow it struck a chord with many of the topics I’ve been considering, as well as many of the items I’ve discussed herein. Not surprisingly, almost every item on that list is something I need to work on, particularly: giving up control, self-defeating self talk, limiting beliefs, fears, the past, attachments and other’s expectations. Letting go in and of itself is scary, there’s no road map and of course there’s fear that things could go awry. It’s hard to tame the inner mind and psyche that want so badly to maintain the status quo – however potentially harmful that status quo might be.

I remember as a kid being told that without struggle/pain, one could not appreciate the joy in life. If all we knew was happiness, then we’d take it for granted.

I will say that going through a tough time does help one appreciate the lighter moments, BUT similarly to what Colin Farrell mentioned, I do not think that therefore means that one must experience significant struggle in life in order to “be grateful” for the happier times. I’m not suggesting a hedonistic lifestyle, I’m simply offering that I think it’s possible to be happy, live an enjoyable life AND appreciate and revel in the great moments and memories. I don’t think I have to “put in my time” in the doldrums in order to know joy.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this topic going forward. (Not to mention all the empirical research on happiness that I’ve been perusing. In fact, here’s a quick TED talk by professor Dan Gilbert, on the topic.)

It’s great to know that I’ll find happiness no matter what, and even better to know that I don’t have to nurture sorrow in order to appreciate elation.

Thanks for reading, S


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About regulardaze

Hi, I'm Sarah. I enjoy photography, dancing, travel, theatre, delicious food, and learning (constantly, about almost everything imaginable). I currently live in Austin, TX. Thanks for sharing in my thoughts and adventures! :)

2 responses to “Happy for Happiness Sake”

  1. Kristin Barton Cuthriell says :

    In my counseling practice, I work with many people who have stayed in the most miserable situations just to avoid the anxiety that comes with change. Most people tell me that the pre-change anxiety is much worse than the actual change itself. I enjoyed your article.

    • regulardaze says :

      Thanks so much for your comment Kristin! I can definitely appreciate pre-change anxiety; when you’re not sure how things will turn out (even if they may turn out better), it’s easy to stay put with the “devil you know.” Hope your clients have made it through the emotional thicket to their futures!

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