Truth Byte #32
“It’s okay to be happy.”
I come from heartbreak.
If your parents divorced or you had some family tragedy before you turned 20, you can probably relate. Most of us who have pain in our childhoods have marinated in the jagged shards of heartbreak. The happily-ever-after got snatched away by the realties of life, and imperfect partners, and difficult situations, and heartbreak was in the air, but worse, in our veins.
In my family story, a new Prince Charming showed up, and saved the whole family, yet that bitterness of lost love stayed with me most of my life.
As I grew, I came to see the pain of lost love was not actually my mother’s story anymore. She found love again and moved on with her life. The person who was left pining was me.
I pined for my father.
Even years later after we re-connected, that ten-year old girl who waited by the window for him to come home lived on inside me.
And so I was always a little suspicious when things got too happy.
Today, I am making a different choice. Today, I realized that it’s okay to not have problems and complaints. It’s okay for all in my life to be well. It’s okay to be pain-free, physically and emotionally.
Here’s 8 clues which show you that you are getting used to being unhappy:
- You laugh hard and long on time, and then think: I can’t remember when I have laughed like that before.
- Happy/optimistic people annoy you.
- You point out other people’s flaws, either to their face, behind their back, or in your own mind.
- Happy endings in movies irritate you because you don’t think they are “realistic”.
- When people laugh too loud, you judge them.
- You choose dramas and meaningful films over romantic or mindless/silly entertainment all the time. No exceptions.
- You feel smug and self-important on a regular basis (but would never admit that out loud).
- You think happiness is over-rated.
(P.S. The more items you picked, the more stuck you are.)
I know, it’s tough to admit that you are stuck in a rut of unhappiness. It’s easier to blame your spouse or your professors or your colleagues or your parents or your kids or your job situation or your health or…..and on and on. It takes courage to admit that you are just getting used to being unhappy. I know it’s hard to figure out how to get out of it.
I had a client say to me once: “I can’t just think my way out of this feeling.” And within four sessions, she had actually achieved just that!
So what I am trying to say, in a scenic route kind of way, is that you are allowed to be happy. Actually, you are supposed to be.
It’s your birthright.
At times like these (when I am trying to drive home a point, that is) I look to Nature for supporting evidence. So let’s look at puppies. They just arrive happy. For no reason. Happy. Unless something bad happens to them or they don’t have their basic needs met, they generally stay that away.
Most of us humans come in generally okay. Even babies who are born with extreme health conditions can recover pretty well and become smiling toddlers. Where it all goes wrong is when we start drinking in the heartbreak and judgment that is all around us. Because so many adults for so many generations have not had the space or know-how to be emotionally expressive (unless that emotion is anger or disappointment), the children coming in to families learn that expressing joy (or any other powerful, uncontained emotion) is not really okay.
But that is changing.
I am watching my friends and peers approach parenting in a whole different way. They let their children feel their feelings, and they give them tools to navigate those feelings. They teach them how to express their feelings while remaining socially appropriate. These little boys and girls are saying “let’s take a deep breath” to each other on the playground, and “we hurt Sally’s feelings” before they rush over to apologize. They are asking for help from caring adults and older children when their feelings overwhelm them, and their joy is so big, so bold, that it magnetizes everyone in the vicinity.
My children are part of this cohort. And I want them to know it’s okay to be happy.
It ‘s okay to be happy.
It’s okay to be happy.
It’s okay to be happy.
(How ridiculous that I even have to say that?!)
I need other adults to help me role-model this to them, and all the little ones growing up in this new world of frontier-less friendship. If we can claim our happiness, so can they. And that could actually change our world. So will you put down your unhappiness today and join me?