I feel like our cultural places a huge importance on being happy all the damn time. It’s exhausting. I’m sure that there are people out there who can accomplish this. They are just naturally happy, and even when things go wrong they eventually bounce back to happy without much work. I really want to believe that people like this exist. However, I am not one of those people. In fact, I would say I go for days at a time without being truly happy. My status quo is not set at happy, it’s set at content. Or satisfied. When I’m not actively depressed that is where I hang out. I pop up into happy, but it is truly work to maintain happy.
For years I did that work. I tried my damnedest to maintain happy at all costs. Because of that, I often went from happy to flat out exhausted, followed by depressed because I failed at my endeavor. It’s only been a recent epiphany of mine that there is nothing wrong with being content or satisfied. There is nothing wrong with visiting the land of happy, but not setting up camp there. It’s like vacationing at Disneyland, but booking the Holiday Inn a mile away to save some money. It’s not the same, but there’s also nothing wrong with it. Ironically, it’s actually better in some ways because it removes the stress of an over-expenditure, allowing you to enjoy your time there more.
This is what I have come realize, and I’ve embraced it. It works for me. However, I’ve discovered that there are still certain situations where I forget this. My birthday was this past weekend and I had a great time celebrating with friends. I had brunch with some friends, then later in the day met up with a different group to grab dinner and then go see a movie. Brunch was great. Dinner was a hoot. The movie, not so much. In fact, I hated it. And it came close to causing me a panic attack.
#1 – It was my birthday, and apparently my epiphany does not hold true on birthdays. If it’s your birthday, you are to be happy and like everything all damn day. No matter what!
#2 – I’m the one who chose the movie, so why in the world did I choose a movie that I hated? Clearly I am a moron who does not deserve to be happy.
#3 – See #1
Instant recipe for a panic attack! In my defense, I truly did think I would like the movie, but honestly, that is so far beside the point! Because I had set this insane requirement that I be happy with everything all day, instead of merely being disappointed that I didn’t like the movie, I practically had a mental breakdown, ruining the entire day. Now that makes sense! Looking back now, I can see that this is what happened. At the time, all I knew is that I was really upset, and all I wanted to do was go home before anyone caught on to how upset I was. If I wasn’t actually happy about everything, I wanted to at least maintain the illusion that I was. I didn’t succeed.
People caught on to the fact that I was not happy with the movie. So I failed on that front completely. However, I think it’s a good thing that I failed. Because while everyone was bummed that I didn’t like my birthday movie, the world didn’t end. It didn’t take away from the fun we’d had earlier that evening and it didn’t damper the big hugs that everyone gave me upon leaving. I was not happy for my entire birthday, and that was perfectly okay. It is okay if you aren’t happy all of the time. Even on your birthday.