The truth about happiness

Here’s the real truth about happiness. It’s temporary.

It is as temporary as every other emotion. Sadness,anger, overwhelm, confusion are all temporary.

When I used to work in suicide assessment and crisis intervention back in the day, my job was to give people hope and a reality check that, whatever was making them feel so desperate in this moment, was temporary. Everything is temporary. Everything.

We have a cultural weirdness about the pursuit of happiness and the complete avoidance of pain. Maybe it’s Constitutional. Whatever drives the happiness compulsion, it’s not healthy.

There is a big industry around the issue of “being happy.” We have books, websites, motivational speakers, workshops and classes all about how to be happy.

You don’t need to spend the money. You can be happy. You just can’t be happy 100% of the time.

Happy is an emotion. And like every emotion, it comes and goes. Happiness is temporary.

The life we live is temporary. Our relationships are temporary. Our pets are temporary.

I know this is unpleasant to think about. Which is why we work so hard to control every little piece of our lives as  a delusional denial tactic to the fact that our existence is temporary.We think if we can control every food we eat, our children’s lives from birth through adulthood, measure every step we take on our FitBit that we will somehow control the biological and time-space continuum.

Temporary, friends. All of it.

I accept temporary. I don’t like it, however. I don’t like change and my loved ones aging. It sucks.

I can choose denial, overcompensation and constant angst about that reality, or just breathe and accept it and live each day with meaning.

Which brings us back to happiness. You can be happy. You will be happy. You can recall times when you were happy. That time was awesome and special and will be again. But it won’t  last forever.

What we can work on is becoming content. Content is a nice equilibrium. When we are content we accept that life has ups and life has downs. We can look at what we have and graciously accept that it is enough. And if it is not enough, we can make choices about how to feel about that and what to do about it, too.

The real truth about happiness is that it’s special. When we feel happy we should enjoy it, savor the time, be fully present. Then we times aren’t so happy we have a memory that matters and hope for better days ahead.




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