Okay to be unhappy

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In keeping with my recent focus on happiness and passion, I want to let you know that it is perfectly okay to be unhappy.

Really. I promise.

If you’re unhappy, you have every right to feel that way AND to express your unhappiness.

Social pressures

We live in a society that is terrified of unhappiness. Our consumer ways are designed to give you everything money can buy to be happy.

When we see someone who seems unhappy, we try to get them to smile. We ask them what’s wrong.

And in more extreme cases, we try to medicate the unhappiness out of them, the premise being we would rather that you be an emotionless zombie than unhappy.

And rather than face being unhappy, many take to self-medicating whether through narcotics or alcohol, food or sex, or other social mechanisms to display an artificial happiness to the world.

We can be afraid to express our unhappiness with the world for fear the world won’t accept us, that they will take offense at our unhappiness as though we were blaming them for it.

Will my partner think I am blaming him or her? My family members? My co-workers? My friends?

If I tell them I am unhappy and can’t explain why—and often we can’t immediately see it—will they abandon me?

In some cases, with some individuals, the answer may be yes, and that is unfortunate. But in my personal experience, the answer is no.

My unhappiness

I worked for several years with friends on a sketch comedy show. It was a labour of love all the way around, but at a certain point in the project’s development, long after my creative contribution culminated, I became unhappy with my involvement in the process. But I was afraid to say something.

How could I tell my friends I didn’t want to do this anymore, that I didn’t want to participate in our dream project? Would they hate me? Would they tell me to fuck off and die?

I eventually worked up the balls to discuss this with them, to lay out my dilemma. They saw that I was serious and that I was struggling. They asked a few questions for clarification. And then they accepted my decision and continued to love me (and do to this day).

Knowing I was miserable working for one company, another friend got me a position in her company (we had previously worked together). My new coworkers were wonderful, the job was what I had wanted. But six weeks in, I realized I didn’t want to do this job anymore…I wanted to move on to a different dream.

How could I turn away from a wonderful job? How could I betray my friend who introduced me to this company? How I slap these amazing people in the face?

I told my friend I was unhappy and wanted to explore my new dream. She was delighted for me and knew I would be brilliant. I told my new bosses that I loved their company but had to follow my heart. They were thrilled and agreed that I had to pursue my passion.

We often don’t give the people in our lives enough credit for wanting what is best for us. We let fear get in our way; fear of rejection, fear of the unknown.

It’s okay

We are repeatedly told and have come to believe that unhappiness is wrong; it is an aberration; it is an affliction.

It is none of these.

It is a feeling, an emotion, a sign. And we must give it the same respect that we give our other emotions, from anger to joy, from sadness to elation, from frustration to fulfillment.

There are not positive emotions and negative emotions. There are no good feelings and bad feelings.

IT IS OKAY TO BE UNHAPPY!

Until we accept and embrace that we are unhappy, we can never figure out why we are unhappy or what we want to do about that feeling and those circumstances.

Love yourself enough to listen to yourself. Feel what you feel. Share what you can.

Ironically, being unhappy may be your first step to being happy. And if it isn’t, that’s okay, too.

See also:

Happy as a verb

Living happiness

Tales from the Other Side of Freedom (Effortless Alpha)

The Expansion Project

Beyond happy

SONY DSC

We spend a lot of time in search of happiness, which I define as a blissful state of satisfaction. Being happy makes everything a little easier—work, family, life—and even where there are hard tasks ahead, happiness seems to make them less daunting, less onerous, less tasking.

When I am happy, I can roll with whatever punches life throws at me, and nicely have found that life throws fewer punches when I am happy.

And although not perfectly so, I find happiness is infectious. When I exude happiness, I am no longer perceived as a threat to those around me and therefore allow others to stay in their own happy place, or in some cases, make it easier for them to experience happiness.

alison_me

Although happiness may initially have an external source or motivation—a job you love, good friends—it is very internal. It is a state you choose to be in. And any external impact it has is purely passive; a choice others make in its presence.

Thus, I believe, there is another level beyond happiness that is more active, more empowering, and if taken wrong, possibly more intimidating.

Joy.

Where happiness is about contentment, satisfaction and peace, joy is the embodiment of love, laughter, engagement and play. Joy takes happiness and dials it up to 11.

me-and-duke-1

Joy is the ultimate expression of freedom, and as such, it cannot be easily contained. It exudes from every pore, every movement, every thought. It is an aura that precedes your entrance into any space and remains a gleeful echo long after you have moved on.

Joy changes how we see the world around us, finding glimmers of light in even the darkest of moments. It is not about self-delusion or selective memory, but rather a complete reframing of the question of the moment.

Like happiness, joy is a choice we make as individuals. But it is a more difficult choice to maintain because it ultimately demands an expanded consciousness to what is around us and an eternal openness to the possibilities in life.

agah-me

As such, joy demands more faith than happiness, which is more easily rationalized.

Happiness, when you choose it, makes sense. Joy doesn’t have to make sense. And perhaps, the less sense joy makes, the more joyful it is.

To embrace the irrational is to truly be open to the possible.

Because it is difficult or impossible to suppress joy—not sure I know why you would want to—joy can be seen as obnoxious or intrusive to those who have yet to find their happiness or joy. That is unfortunate for those individuals.

For those in joy, however, this is another opportunity to explore, understand and exchange. In this way, joy begets joy, even if not always from person to person.

All this to say that while I continue to explore happiness in my life, I have chosen to embrace joy and hope to share it with as many people as I can.

It is my gift to myself and to others.

vic

12 Days of Gratitude – Honourable Mentions

13 days

I have the great fortune to be surrounded by love and support from a variety of sources. But with that boon comes the curse of trying to select only 12 people for whom I am grateful.

And I failed…because I now present you with the handful of souls who didn’t make the original list but who I cannot NOT thank and honour. You all mean the world to me.

Mike & Lee

Mike & Lee: Truly devoted friends who ask nothing and offer everything.

Victoria

Victoria: Always quick with a supportive smile, heart-warming giggle and welcoming spirit.

Marlies

Marlies family: Collective chaos and maniacal wit with as many facets as faces. (not all members shown here)

Asmara

Asmara: A glowing spirit who befriends all.

Mike & Nana

Mike: The buddy for when you need to bury a body, no questions asked. Devoted friend, father, husband.

agah

Agah: Debate master and brother-man from another motherland, all packaged with devotion and dedication

12 Days of Gratitude – Leela

Leela

This is Leela, a woman who could easily have occupied all 12 slots in this countdown.

A woman of many passions and indecisions, she easily ranks as my best friend, my confidante, and likely the only one who truly understands my soul…probably better than I do. No matter what I accomplish in life, in times of my greatest darkness, or when I simply need a soothing voice, Leela is the person to whom I turn first. And I hope I offer even a smidgen of the same to her.

It can take some effort to get to truly know Leela, but the rewards of doing so make any effort seem insignificant.

 

(Part Twelve of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Me

I’d like to introduce you to…well…me. I’m a true Renaissance man…and by that, I mean someone who under the best of conditions feels about 500 years old.

I’m a writer, scientist, photographer, comedian, puppeteer and hockey fanatic; and yet, despite having a lot in common with me, I have not always been my biggest fan. No matter how well I succeeded in life, I always thought I could do better, or that I would be discovered and shunned as a fraud. Well, screw me!

Now, I recommend that as many of you get to know me as possible…I’m pretty damned cool!

 

(Part Eleven of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Alayna

Alayna

This is my friend Alayna. For every reason that I told you Ned was a good man, Alayna defines what it is to be a good woman.

Friend, mother, wife, educator, nut-bar, science nerd: all qualities that make Alayna a very special woman, someone who blesses my life with every witticism and wise-crack. Buried behind a veneer of sarcasm is a passionate soul who is both demanding of and deeply dedicated to others.

To know Alayna is to have your life enriched, your mind expanded and your passions empowered (and sometimes your ass kicked).

 

(Part Ten of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)

12 Days of Gratitude – Kevin (different one)

Kevin

I’d like to introduce you to my friend Kevin…no, not Sweetums from a couple of days ago…this is a different Kevin, although just as loving and sweet.

Despite not knowing each other for more than a handful of years, Kevin has welcomed me into his life, opening his heart to me in a beautiful sign of trust. Playmate, jokester, nerd-boy, gentle crusader; Kevin’s gifts know no bounds.

It is well worth trying to get to know this gentle soul who offers so much love and understanding to an oft hardened world.

P.S. If Kevin is reading this, he just raised an eyebrow and smiled.

 

(Part Nine of my 12 Days of Gratitude…because the rest of the news sucks)