Unhappy Being Happy

Sometimes I fear happiness.

I can’t be the only one, right?

Try this thought experiment. Imagine tomorrow you will be a thousand times happier than you are today. Does something about that sound frightening? My first reaction is that anyone that happy would become unhinged.

Sometimes I skip meals, stay up until 3 am for no reason, or forego a social event that I know will be fun. These things are all trivial, but trivial things are vital to my happiness.

Why do I do these things to myself? Do I worry that, if I “achieve” happiness, I still won’t feel fulfilled? Do I feel bound by sense of duty to be somber? Can I not have too much fun since that’s not what busy adults do?

Disclaimer: some people literally cannot be happy (or fulfilled, or at peace, or well, etc). Perhaps they suffer from chronic depression. Perhaps their spouse has just died. If that’s your case, then ignore this post.

I believe part of the reason we snub happiness is that our culture associates sadness with nobility and humanity, and happiness with naiveté.

We work eight hour days – and we think of ourselves as slaves, because everyone hates work, right? That’s “normal.” People whose lives seem too perfect? We call them goody two shoes. People whose lives are in shambles? That’s “real.”

Think about literary archetypes and our most beloved fictional characters. Unhappy figures are intelligent, complex, mysterious, and insightful. The happy ones are fools characterized as goofy, silly, or giddy, all words connoting a lack of control.

I agree with Ayn Rand’s observations: “Happiness is not the satisfaction of whatever irrational wishes you might blindly attempt to enjoy. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values, and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions…” Ayn Rand is part of my motley crew, if you didn’t know.

So we have to work for it. What else do we need? Barring professional psychological help, we need a safe, comfortable, and controlled environment. Can you really lose yourself in a good book if you’re anxiously awaiting a text from your crush? Not really. Turn the phone off. Can you be happy and worried what others think of you? No. Figure out how to stop worrying. Make a plan, if you want (Asana can help you make a plan – I love Asana, because I love planning).

Sometimes my posts have a call to action. I’ve decided those are dumb, at least coming from me, in this medium. You might think this post is the most asinine thing you’ve ever read, and no one likes being told what to do, anyway, so my call to action today is for myself. Tonight I am going to play a video game I just bought. And tomorrow I’m going to read a good book instead of checking more items off my to-do list on Asana.