V Happy: A Midweek Reminder That Happiness is Always There (#12)
Art piece of the week: The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson
This column, by title, is inherently focused on the shiny and bright side of life. I do find it sort of funny because happiness can be the most illusive, impermanent feeling in the world and it seems to be misunderstood. Or perhaps, over-emphasized, maybe unjustly demanded. We started this series with the idea that more of us need reminders of hope in our daily lives. While that sentiment may be true, the other end of the emotive spectrum exists, of course, and I’m not in the business of pretending it doesn’t.
What if, in our quest for an ineffable exuberance that is beyond satisfaction or contentment, we have forgotten to honor sadness? The thing about life is that it would be unnatural to feel happy all the time. That’s simply not how the human body works. Forcing it to be otherwise won’t change the boundaries of the body’s natural rhythm. Pushing yourself to be happy in all moments would be like demanding that your body feel well-rested after only 6 hours of sleep. Like, I’m sorry Marge, but your body doesn’t care what you think — it needs 8.
I do think it’s our human nature to seek out the sensation of aliveness, through adrenaline or emotional thrills or, in a more stable approach, true fulfillment. At the same time, highs and lows are normal. They are more than normal — they are perfectly natural. Highs and lows are equal parts of life’s emotive cycles and it couldn’t be any other way, unless you were a robot. And again, Marge, I really don’t think you are.
Many people who are raised in high-achieving environments are taught to believe that there is one path to follow in life. People who are raised in low-achieving environments are also taught to believe that only certain ways of life are possible or even accessible to them, but both versions of these ingrained beliefs are nothing more than false limitations. It could even be argued that the value placed on “achievement” and “success” in our Western society isn’t cohesive with nature, but that’s a longer conversation for a different day. The point is, each sensation that arises within you is trying to tell you something important. If you listen closely, you’ll hear clues that will guide you towards your true path, the one that can’t be laid out for you by someone else. If we really are on a mission towards true fulfillment, then we must include both ends of the emotive spectrum in our experience. We cannot shun the guides within us and expect to reach the promised land. Whatever you’re feeling, feel it fully. Feel it big. Get to know it. And sleep a little more.