“I should feel happy all the time”

Life is 50/50.

I want to offer that life and our human experience is 50/50 – 50% “good/positive” and 50% “bad/negative.” 

I think we’ve been taught incorrectly that our lives should be good most, if not all, of the time. So when something happens that’s in the “bad” 50%, we think something has gone terribly wrong. But if that 50% is supposed to be there, has anything really gone wrong?

If you felt happy all the time, you would have to feel happy even through things like the death of a loved one, an accident, an illness, someone betraying you. And all of these things, my friends, are part of the human experience. Things we basically sign up for when we’re born. 

In our effort to feel happy all the time, we stay away from discomfort that could help us evolve and motivate us to make our dreams come true. If we can accept that emotional balance means that 50% of the time, we’ll be on the other side of happy, we might be willing to fail epically and try courageously. That is the normal human experience.

Our emotions are an indicator of what’s going on for us. To be authentic, to have a true relationship with our life, is also to be willing to experience negative emotion 50% of the time. If we’re willing to do that without trying to escape it, we’ll remove all the buffers in our life, and at the same time, we’ll remove all the negative consequences that come with them.

What are buffers? When we buffer, we use something to distract ourselves from feeling an uncomfortable emotion. A buffer could be over-eating, over-drinking, over-Instagraming, over-Netflixing, over-spending, over-cleaning. We do these actions instead of allowing and processing an uncomfortable emotion like boredom, loneliness, shame, fear, jealousy. 

We avoid doing the harder things (like processing our feelings), and instead, we gain weight, we get hangovers, we go into debt or don’t meet our savings goals, we throw away time consuming other people’s content when we could be creating our own, or doing something to take care of ourselves, like going for a walk, run, doing yoga, meditating, or cooking a healthy meal. 

When we allow ourselves to feel discomfort, we will decrease our buffers and the negative consequences they produce. In fact, when we allow ourselves to really feel our emotions, we get to know ourselves in a much deeper way.

What happens when we get to know ourselves in a much deeper way? We start finding the causes of our unhappiness, and then we can start to change them, if we want to. 

This is sustainable, unlike engaging in the false pleasures we’ve been using to buffer before and bearing the consequences that come along with them. 

For example, when you limit your drinking, you don’t experience hangovers and get to feel good in your body. When you watch your eating, you get the pleasure of not worrying about your weight. These results are real, ongoing pleasures. 

Your turn: How would you think about your life differently if you accepted that life is 50/50? What if nothing has gone wrong when you’re in the other 50% that’s not “good”? What would you be more willing to do for yourself if you embraced the 50/50 of life?

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What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

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