Have you ever had someone say “cheer up” or “smile” to you? Did it annoy you at the time?
Have you ever wondered why you can’t constantly be happy and peaceful? Why do circumstances always come at you and change your happy perspective for a bit? Why can’t you get back that peace you felt a minute ago or yesterday or last week or last year?
I used to think, “all I want is to be strong all the time. And I feel strong when I’m positive and happy. So I want to be positive and happy all the time. I wish I could figure out how to always be peaceful and happy every moment of every day.”
Or I’d think, “I don’t know how so-and-so does it. He/She seems so peaceful/happy/blessed/lucky all the time on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter. How is He/She always so happy/magical/overjoyed in His/Her status updates? If only I could be stronger, I could hold onto this kind of happiness/blessedness/unicorn-ness all the time!”
The older I get, the more I have moments of clarity about this kind of happiness and strength. I actually think that true strength doesn’t lie in holding onto smiles and cheer all the time, but in recognizing that feelings come and go in waves. And waves go both up and down.
The other day, I was saying to a friend of mine “I just want to be strong, and I’ve been so happy lately. But today I feel shaken by outside circumstances, and I can’t hold onto the strength I felt yesterday. What do I do?” But as I said it, I realized that in a way I was stronger than ever. And I didn’t really need to do anything. I’ve begun to recognize the waves and ride them, even when they’re occasionally jarring and scary.
Constant happy-joy-joy positivity, especially on social media, annoys me because it seems fake. There’s a notion that ‘putting on a happy face all the time’ is the absolute best thing to do. I don’t really agree.
Not that I think being negative is good. But as I enter my thirties, I think the best spot to be is ‘positive but honest.’ You can still be positive and admit you’re scared. You can still be positive and feel weak. You can still be positive and cry. And you can also be positive and happy.
Life happens. Circumstances outside you happen. It’s okay to admit they get to you sometimes.
Ironically, the more you can ride the low feelings and let them be, the better you’ll ride the high…and the happier you’ll be anyway.