Monday, June 10, 2013

Happiness Pressure

When I'm depressed one thing that makes me feel even more depressed is that constant feeling of "I should be happy" or "I want to feel happy." Despite being really sick, for some reason I have this ridiculous expectation that I'm miserable because I'm not "happy" and that because happy is the exact opposite of unhappy that's what I should be striving for.  It occurred to me though that I don't put that same expectation on myself in any other area of my life.  When starting an exercise program I don't assume that after day one I'll be running a marathon.   When starting a job I don't expect I'll be an assistant and the next day CEO.  In my romantic relationships, I don't assume I'll go out on a first date and be married to the guy on date two.  And I've been sick for years, knowing that I didn't go from sick one day to well the next.  It was a long process.  So why this pressure when it comes to happiness?

I think it's partially being an American, a Westerner, generational and living in a society with a very high expectation of the success=happiness equation.  So if I'm not successful right now, whatever one's definition of that is, not working, not in a relationship, sick and living at home of course it seems I would be unhappy. 

But I discovered that if I changed what I was striving for it would create an equation I could live up to for myself.  Meaning, instead of striving so hard for happy and being more depressed when I fall short of that, I could strive just to be one click away from depressed.    My equation could look like this...not in any pain today=less depressed.  If I work this like a muscle, less depressed might eventually equal content.  That makes me happy.

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