You don’t have to be Happy

At least not always.

I read a book a few years ago that proudly stated “Happiness is the goal of life! Everyone wants to be happy!” Though I forget the book’s title, I do remember being highly sceptical of this claim.

Happiness is thought to be this place of absolute joy, where nothing ever goes wrong. An idyllic state. Much of our strife is justified with this nine-letter word. It’s an easy answer to the dreadful why.

Why should I do this? — Because it will make you happy!

Why should I buy this new product? — Because it will make you happy!

While the above examples are an obvious simplification of our reasonings, it’s safe to say that much of our motivations are pushed forth in the hope for happiness.

But happiness, like any other emotion, is only a shade in the palate.

A single hue in an infinite spectrum.

Ironically, the struggle to achieve a constant state of inextinguishable happiness breeds frustration. In a world as chaotic and complex as ours, to only pursue happiness seems like a bit of bland choice. You don’t have to deny what the world offers you.

And as a matter of fact, the world doesn’t always offer you happiness.

Personally, I prefer melancholy. It seems like a safer, purer place to be in. Happiness seems like an ephemeral spirit that always remains out of reach. Even if I do manage to momentarily capture in, moments slip away in the fear of losing this coveted feeling.

But melancholy? It comes when it wants to. It staggers in sometimes when I listen to Hozier. It is always pleased to show up in moments of despair. Bittersweet in its stance, I always welcome it and it morphs into something beautiful.

Something so beautiful, that happiness with all its pretentious grandeur could never hope to achieve.

“ It is better to be whole than to be good.”

~John Middleton Murray

Don’t mistake me for a proponent of ‘anti-happiness.’ I enjoy a few shots of serotonin just as much as the next person. But it is the nauseating overdose that makes me cringe.

When you could experience an infinite number of possibilities, do you really want to confine yourself to a single emotion? Positivity is great. Toxic positivity isn’t. You don’t have to mask your emotions. No cloud in the sky dictates you to be happy. You are allowed to be sad, in pain, anxious, numb, ecstatic, jittery — or all of that at once. It’s absolutely alright.

Because in this world of masks, we could do without a facade of joy.

You don’t have to be happy.

You just need to be.

Be whatever the moment asks you to be. And more often then not, the answer is anything but happy.