Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is it a sin to be unhappy?

Have you ever been sitting in your room alone, ready to burst into tears, or possibly already in tears and no one knows it. No one even knows that anything is wrong because you don’t want them to know. You walk through your life with a smile that hides the frown in your heart, hoping that no one guesses because you don’t want to seem unhappy?

Our society has made it almost impossible for anyone to be openly unhappy. Look at the way we treat those who have come out of the “unhappy closet.”  They’re seen as bad luck, as if being unhappy is a disease that spreads to others, they are often ignored, and in many cases asked to just get happy, as if they are choosing to be unhappy. 

What we’ve been taught is that if we’re going to be unhappy, do it on our own time where no one else has to deal with it. Thus the 14 year old who is battling depression struggles on their own. The 30 year old business man who is grieving has to leave his sadness at the door and the elderly woman who feels alone has to find a way to just get over it.

What’s more, being unhappy  is thought of as so taboo that one must cure it immediately, eat something, buy something, and leave the country if you have to, but fix your unhappiness. But the problem is, if I can’t be open about being unhappy, how am I going to get happy again?

The problem with happiness is it’s become synonymous with joy. It’s not. Joy is a great spiritual feeling that sits inside of you. Happiness is an emotion. And like all emotions it comes and goes. You may wake up one morning feeling happy, but by the end of the day enough has happened to make you unhappy. Happiness is always linked with something external. We fall in love, we’re happy. We go on a great vacation and we’re happy but if we lose that love we naturally become unhappy. Because happiness is not something that is meant to be experienced consistently we as a society need to stop pressuring people to always be happy. Negative things happen that make us unhappy and allowing ourselves to just feel unhappy actually helps you to heal from it faster.

But when you are forced to grin and bear it, you actually prolong your unhappiness. For one, you’re keeping a secret that causes you stress. It would be easier to say, I broke up with someone and I’m having a hard time with it, instead of pretending to fine.

Two, you are forcing yourself to be in an unnatural state. Can you force yourself to be angry when you’re not? Probably not, and you can’t force yourself to be happy when you’re not. But when we can’t admit our unhappiness that’s exactly what we’re doing. It’s like living two lives, the fake happy one and the real unhappy one. 

Three, you become target to more unhappiness. When one thing is wrong it seems more follows. Because you are trying to suppress all that unhappiness, you’re actually very sensitized to it. All it takes it is one word or action and it all comes back up. You’re more vulnerable. It’s like carrying a large stack or plates, you’re so focused on keeping it under control, but even the smallest nudge can make it all come down.  The littlest things start to get to you, and the simple unhappiness becomes a deep depression.

Being unhappy isn’t a sin, it’s a perfectly natural reaction to negative events in our lives. It’s to help us know and understand what we don’t like and what to avoid. It’s an emotion, like anger and sadness and it comes and goes.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Adelaide, really like the way you look at unhappiness - "Being unhappy isn’t a sin, it’s a perfectly natural reaction to negative events in our lives". I'm normally a very happy person, I'm even surprised at how unhappy I am not, and how much more unhappy I can get... I tried to shut everyone out because I don't want them to see this unhappy me. I always want to make people smile, make them feel good about themselves. And when I feel unhappy, I am just incapable of doing that. So I just be with myself. I realize this is very unhealthy, when I feel unhappy I should talk to friends and family instead of keeping everything to myself. Cheers.