Trying too hard to be happy leads to. . . sadness?

Throughout my eighteen years of living, one thing I’ve concluded is that being happy isn’t easy. People in this world say happiness is a choice, but if it truly was that easy wouldn’t everyone simply just choose to be happy?

As humans, we have this innate quest to find these so-called feelings of joy and elation. Yet, we spend so much of our lives searching that we forget to enjoy things or better yet, we just reside in a perpetual state of misery because we don’t know how to help ourselves to the capacity that we need to. Maybe we don’t like talking and opening up, maybe were in denial, maybe we just don’t know what the heck to do.

As simple as it seems, the feeling of showing excitement or contentment is rather more elusive than what appears to merely an observer. For me, hand in hand with happiness is finding and determining meaning. While meaning is arbitrary, it has the power to lay the foundation of a person’s opinion and outlook; the way the cement base is the heart of a house supporting the skeleton of walls, windows, and hallways. I live my life searching for meaning in everything, sometimes getting me into trouble because every so often, some things just don’t have a meaning.

Despite this, without meaning, it is near impossible to find even a glimmer of happiness. How can one find themselves ‘happy’ skipping the crucial step of knowing the impacts of their actions or words on both themselves and others? The definition of ‘meaning’ is unclear in its own nature: what is the intended effect and significance of the text, concept, word, action, or idea in question? A person can become so preoccupied with defining the meaning that they lose the true essence of why they were involved with said action or concept in the first place. But is it this lack of meaning that leads to lack of purpose which leads to lack of happiness?

One may never truly know. As we continue to move through life and beyond, sometimes we lose sight of the things that are most important or the things that truly matter. In my experience, the hardest part of it all is determining what these ‘things’ are. To each and every individual, it’s different. Whether a person admits it or not, we are all dealing with things that aren’t always visible at first glance. It may be an invisible chronic illness, drama with friends or a significant other, a learning disability, depression, academic hardships or simply life shattered in pieces in general.

Whatever it may be, it impacts you and your outlook to the world despite if you admit it or not. And that’s okay. Everyone’s entitled to be biased, to feel sorry for themselves. But, it shouldn’t get in the way of life in any way, although it may be easy to just admit defeat to the problem and not fight against it. However down on the world you may be, trying and forcing to be happy may just be making you sadder and more miserable.

Instead, focus on the little things that are good. The things you may have that the rest of the world may not be as privileged to have access to, such as an education. Step outside and appreciate the grass that lines the lawns, or the clear sky on a sunny day. Revel in the immense opportunity there is in the world to experience. The future is out there, the future is bright no matter how dull it may seem. And if you don’t believe it right now, if you keep telling yourself that, maybe someday you’ll believe yourself.

If a person continually focuses on trying to be happy, they will be perpetually miserable. Happiness is something that has to happen organically. No matter how stressed or miserable a person may be, there is always a silver lining. So, you did terrible on the midterm? Work harder and get as close to perfect on the next test as you can. Use it as a learning experience. So, you didn’t do as well in sport you practice as you were hoping to? Train with finesse and show everyone how much they should’ve taken you more seriously.

In any situation, take a step back. Look at the situation holistically for what it is, rather than what it should or could or would be. Instead of looking back to the past, look forward. Through all of this, ask yourself one question: why am I doing this? If the answer is something you don’t agree with, then don’t do it. Find motivation to do something that’s never been done before.

When happiness isn’t searched for, it finds you. And the minute you stop wondering when you will be happy, slowly and steadily things will turn up and you will become happy no matter how long it takes. But for now, when life seems absolutely horrible, you just have to sit tight and get through it any way that you know how. You’re stronger than you appear, smarter than you believe yourself to be, and underestimate your own abilities. As with everything, this too shall pass. And when it does, the feeling of optimism and positivity will be irreplaceable.

xox,

M

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