Well Hallelujah – It's okay to be unhappy

Ah, vindication. If you know me at all you know I really dislike the happy-happy people. The lemonade from lemons people. Those self-righteous little party poopers, when you are having a well deserved, well earned pity party. There is a name for the snake oil these imposters are selling (and I say they are impostors because  deep down I think these folks are really depressed as hell and they doth protest too much) – it’s called toxic positivity.

And I quote: “While cultivating a positive mind-set is a powerful coping mechanism, toxic positivity stems from the idea that the best or only way to cope with a bad situation is to put a positive spin on it and not dwell on the negative,” said Natalie Dattilo, a clinical health psychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It results from our tendency to undervalue negative emotional experiences and overvalue positive ones.

So promulgating messages of positivity denies a very real sense of despair and hopelessness, and they only serve to alienate and isolate those who are already struggling.

And this:

“We judge ourselves for feeling pain, sadness, fear, which then produces feelings of things like shame and guilt,” she said. “We end up just feeling bad about feeling bad. It actually stalls out any healing or progress or problem solving.”

Perhaps I should just copy and paste the whole article, it’s in today’s Washington Post and if you click on the link in the first paragraph it will take you there.

I have often written ‘upside/downside’ posts – wherein I whinge and whine about something and then try to look on the positive side. The thing is, I never deny the downside. I never deny how I am feeling, and I will wallow as long as I need to. Wallow as you will and need to but just don’t live there. (Clinically depressed people are exempt from that caveat.)

Why is it that people think happiness is a constant state of being? My own take on happiness is that it is measured in moments, not hours, days, weeks, years. It may be that what I call happiness equates with what I call joy – a feeling, an emotion that washes over you, often in a split second, and lasts just that long.

Perhaps contentment is what we feel in the long run.  “To be content does not necessarily imply “happiness” or “satisfaction” – it means that you are at peace with the circumstances.”

If I had to define happiness for myself then I would say – I was at peace with myself and my world. And that feeling is fleeting, it is momentary, it is a cozy feeling. It’s like snuggling down into a warm bed on a cold night – that whole body/whole mind Ahhh.

I suppose each person must define happiness for themselves but please know that it is okay to be unhappy.