The Happiness Myth

It isn't humanly possible to be happy all the time, and it's not your fault.

Posted Apr 01, 2020

Every year, more and more books on happiness are published, and every year, more and more people go deeper into their depression because they do not see themselves as happy. They don’t remember or know what it feels like, and instead, they now feel guilty that they aren’t as happy as everyone says they should be. This is really a sad state of emotional affairs.

The books, blogs, YouTube videos, and advice columns will tell you that if you meditate, visualize, exercise, journal, stay busy, help others, eat healthily, read, and increase your intimacy every day, then you too can be happy. For me, that list would take the whole day, and I wouldn’t have the energy at the end of it to even contemplate sex.

The simple truth is that no one can be happy all the time. That doesn’t mean you have to be sad, angry, or depressed the rest of the time but that you can find a middle ground called contentment. This middle ground is a good place to be mentally and emotionally, and spending time there is a healthy choice.

Contentment is someplace between satisfied and peaceful. It isn’t giddy or overflowing—it simply is there. When you are in that place, the stuff of life can be going on around you, but you don’t need to allow it to get you twisted up inside. You can be at peace when you pay your bills or deal with something that broke or a child who has forgotten their homework—and take it all in stride. And that, my friends, is a very nice way to go through life.

I find contentment in walks and in writing, in talking with my partner and reminding each other that our life is good, despite temporary setbacks or scary moments. I can overreact to just normal life stuff, and because I know this about myself, I can temper my reactions and respond differently. Doing this relieves a lot of stress and will keep you from losing your state of contentment.

Right at this moment, things around me are still a little out of my control—such is life—but I am feeling pretty darn good because I am actively living my purpose and I can quietly revel in that. The files and folders that need organizing for taxes are still going to be there, laughing at me, when I finish this piece, but I will laugh right back. This is because I am now content, and that feeling will last the whole day through. You can do the same.

If there is even one thing that puts you in a state of contentment—and you do it regularly and early enough each day—it will help you through any challenges you may have to face later. I don’t want to make my life any more difficult than it already is, so I choose contentment, knowing that from time to time, I’m going to get pulled out of my peaceful place and into the muck of reality. What gets me through the icky parts is knowing that I can eventually return to that place where I know it really is all okay.