Happiness is overrated.
The highlight reel that is social media has somehow given us the impression that we need to be happy all the time.
We are sold happiness all the time, with ads convincing us that we need to buy their products or services to feel only happiness. Forever.
Well, I’m tired of buying into the lie.
The truth is we need negative emotion.
We need to feel something other than happiness to be alive. To be without stress, discomfort, or sadness is to be dead.
Only dead people don’t have to feel negative emotions.
And I want to live while I’m alive.
The misconception that we should only ever feel positive emotion is what so often holds us back from doing big, important things.
If we’re afraid of failing, it’s really because we’re afraid of feeling something.
We’re afraid of feeling sadness, disappointment, discomfort, anxiety, shame, insecurity, etc.
But if we can come to accept negative emotion as a normal, even valuable, part of life, we’ll find we have nothing to be afraid of.
Think of all the things you would do if you weren’t afraid of what you would feel.
When we don’t want to feel negative emotion, we use other things to stop us from feeling. Food. TV. Sleep. Alcohol. Social media scrolling. Gossip. Porn. Shopping. Drugs. Work. And so many other things.
This concept has been incredibly enlightening to me in my struggles with food, which I’ve been open about in the past. I had already come to grips with asking myself, “Why am I eating?” I’ve now been able to take this a step further by asking, “What feeling am I avoiding?”
I’m learning to stop and ask myself, “What do I not want to feel right now?” when I pick up my phone and start scrolling through Instagram.
When Netflix asks me if I’m still there, I need to check in with myself and see what I’m stuffing away while I’m binge-watching.
Because as much as it seems easier to stuff negative emotion away, it’s always there waiting at the other side of whatever way we choose to numb.
And unfortunately, when we’re not willing to experience negative emotions, we can’t fully experience positive emotion.
If we’re not willing to feel grief, hurt, and rejection, we can’t fully experience love and acceptance.
Coming to grips with the fact that true living requires a balance of emotions is the first step to greater happiness. Happiness comes through knowing sadness. Joy comes through knowing mourning.
Negative emotions are actually a gift from God. Experiencing the balance of negative emotions and positive emotions is part of the having life to the full that Jesus offers us in John 10:10.
So, yes, I don’t want to be happy all the time. Because without contrast, there is no true happiness.
The next time you start to feel something negative, remind yourself that it is a normal, necessary, beautiful part of life. It won’t last forever. Lean into it. Experience it. You’re alive.