Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fear of Happiness

Are we afraid to be happy? 

Rolling around like a lost pinball, this thought has been refusing to go away. I don't have any answers yet and I doubt I ever will, but I have my suspicions. Being a happy person comes with a certain sense of responsibility to remain happy. If a generally happy individual admits to being in a bad mood aren't we (the sad and envious) a little disappointed? Dare I say angry? If someone asks you how you are, and you respond that you're doing "great!" do you have a tinge of fear that they will expect more of you? They might expect you to cheer them up or to have a sunny outlook all the time. A bad day isn't allowed. 

What if every morning you say to yourself "I choose happiness" and find that by mid-afternoon you have hidden under the covers and decided to sleep through the rest of the day rather than deal with crippling depression? Fear of failure, even just in your own eyes, can be immobilizing. 

I have only just begun down this trail of choosing happiness. I've spent so many days of this life blanketed by fear. It's only now that I realize I've been afraid of happiness and all it could mean for me. Depression is not something I'll make light of. I don't even want to delve into it in this post except to say that I do NOT believe you can just choose one day to snap your fingers and wave goodbye to depression. What I do believe is that everyone deserves to be happy and without being scared that they won't be allowed to be sad ever again. We should feel safe asking for help on the path to happiness without fear of letting down others or ourselves. 

I'm starting to think some are afraid to be happy because of our culture's idea of what's "cool".  Let's face it, the cool kids wear black, scowl a lot and listen to music you havn't even heard of. They drip with moods that are dark and considered deeper than the cheerful folks. If someone in marketing wants to sell a product based on it's "hip" factor, I doubt they show a smiling monk or a bubbly child in their advertisement. Does our society view happiness as a clear sign that one is unintelligent and boring? I suspect so. 

If you have a lifetime built up around a certain identity it can be terrifying to let that identity go even if that mask is one you hate. It's still how you identify yourself and who would you be otherwise? That may be the most terrifying thing of all: loss of self even if it is a loathed one.  

For me, the biggest fear of this quest for happier life is that I fully believe I will always struggle with depression and I may face entire decades where happiness eludes me completely. Someday I hope I don't believe this anymore. For now, I'm choosing to start small and admit that I'm happy at this moment. Aside from all of the worries I have today, I can still choose to be positive right now. Now is all I have.

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