The art of happiness. Friday November 14, 2014
At a recent counselling appointment I was asked to explore the times when I am happy. I sat and thought for a moment and then reported that I'm not sure I'm ever really happy. Afterwards I found myself being troubled by this. Is it really true that I am never a happy person? I didn't actually think so. I love spending my time with my children and am generally very happy in their company. I go to work and am fortunate to really enjoy my role. I am generally a really happy and laid back person to be around in the office and can often be heard chatting and laughing (as opposed to working!). When I am with friends I am a positive and upbeat person. Yet at that moment in time, when asked, I considered that I wasn't a happy person.
I know the times when I feel my lowest, it's when I'm on my own and my thoughts begin to wander. I have a tendency to let this happen rather than take positive action to keep my thoughts in check. In the situations I describe myself as happy in, it might not always be genuine. There are times when I just want to hide myself away but I can't so I put on a front to disguise my inner feelings. And it can be exhausting, pretending to the world that I am immensely happy when I feel nothing like it. I suppose if I really wanted, I could not pretend on the days that I do, I could show the world my sadness and grief. But actually I don't want to. This would lead people to enquire as to the source of the depths of my mood and it's a story that I don't want to share.
So faking my mood acts as a shield to protect me. But also I find that faking happiness can lead to genuine happiness. When I act happy, those around me are more likely to feed off that and in return the happiness is perpetuated. Likewise, when I allow my negativity to flow, this impacts on those around me. I only have to look at the days where it's been like a battlefield with the kids and it's clear that often they have just fed off my mood for the day. But also, sometimes I feel genuine happiness, but then perhaps feel guilty for being happy. I am in a difficult situation right now, I am finding it a struggle and I think somewhere, deep inside, I hold a message that tells me if I'm at all happy at any point then I can't be going through an inner struggle and therefore admitting happiness in this time would be like declaring that I am free of my struggles.
So, on full reflection, I do have many periods of happiness. These periods sometimes run alongside my darkest days, sometimes they are genuine, sometimes they are forced. Experiencing happiness doesn't mean I no longer have troubles, it doesn't mean I don't engage in negative thinking, it doesn't even mean I don't need guidance and support. It simply means that I continue to be able to experience a range of emotions, or at least remember what happiness is like in order to fake it until I make it!!
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