“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?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

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.

Just knowing something doesn’t make it easy

The work is always here.

When we’ve been doing the work for a while of growing and expanding ourselves, learning concepts and tools to help us evolve into who we want to become, sometimes we may think, “I should know this already. I should be better at this. Why am I still reacting this way? Why is this still hard for me?”

Why, friends? Because we are human beings with human brains.  

Just because we know the work, the tools involved, and the ways of thinking that can benefit us, doesn’t mean we no longer have human emotions and human experiences. That we no longer have to do the work. 

We learn the tools and beneficial ways of thinking in order to help us navigate our human experience on purpose, consciously and deliberately, with compassion and grace for ourselves and others. 

There isn’t a point where we get to stop doing the work–unless we choose to be stagnant and stay exactly where we are. It’s possible to do that, but also as human beings, it’s unlikely that we’ll want to choose that for ourselves.

We will always get to do the work. And that’s not a “bad” thing. It means that we’re continuing to expand ourselves and grow beyond where we currently are. That we want to be even more of who we are becoming.  

Our primitive brains evolved to want to be efficient (to do “easy” things), to avoid pain, and to seek pleasure to help us survive.

When we’re wanting to live a fulfilled life where we’re not just surviving but thriving, we can’t always choose the easy things, we will likely be uncomfortable facing new situations and experiences, and we will delay immediate pleasure/gratification in order to attain our long-term well-being.

So we do the work in order to overcome our primitive brains and utilize our sophisticated brains (our prefrontal cortex) to their fullest potential. 

Some thoughts for helping us continue doing the work:

  • I’m getting better at this, even if it’s not easy yet.
  • This is still hard for me, and that’s okay.
  • I’m learning something from this and that’s why I don’t already know better.
  • I’m reacting this way and catching myself instead of being unaware.
  • My awareness is helping me through this.

The work is always here. No matter how much we know, we don’t get to escape the work. And it’s worth it to see who we become.

Your turn: Are you willing to keep doing the work to become the best version of you? What are some thoughts that can help you when you feel challenged by doing the work? Instead of thinking “I should know this by now,” what is a more compassionate and empowering thought? Are you open to remembering that you always have a choice to do the work or to not do it, and to confront the consequences depending on what you choose?

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and get to show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.