Is Happiness Highly Over-rated?

by Patricia on

I’ve been having discussions recently with people about happiness, as clients have been saying “I just want to be happy.” This peaked my curiosity and I started asking the question “What does that mean to you? How do you define happiness?”  This is what I heard…

It means

  • I won’t be sad anymore
  • (some other person) won’t (some action/attitude) anymore
  • I won’t worry anymore
  • I won’t be afraid anymore
  • (some other person) will (some action/attitude) so I will feel they care about/love me
  • I won’t be angry all the time
  • I will feel glad/joy/good

It became clear that either these people were not safe with all of their emotions or they saw their emotional state as being dependent upon another person’s actions or attitudes. It also struck me that there was an expectation or belief that happiness is the desired state, all the time.

I recall a 1970’s teaching I heard from one of the Eastern gurus, I really no longer remember exactly who, to “celebrate your sadness.” At the time, I first thought that was really crazy. Why would I celebrate my sadness? I eventually learned that when I stopped resisting any emotion and just let it flow, it was no longer painful to experience. When I released my judgment about an emotion (as being “negative” or “bad” or wanting to hold on to what was “positive” or “good”) and simply felt it, breathing into it, it flowed through fairly quickly and without pain. Celebrating my emotions meant to feel them fully and let them flow through, choosing what to act upon or not. Celebrating my emotions meant appreciating that emotions are part of being human. Most of all, it resulted in finding peace deep inside, flowing with life as it happens and not getting stuck. Misery became optional.

I invite you to ask yourself what happiness means to you and to challenge the thought that it is the ultimate desired state. Share your thoughts and questions on the blog. Is happiness over-rated? I’m looking forward to our conversation!



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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

George August 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

I don’t think feeling happy can be referred to as overrated. Though we certainly underrate the other feelings if and when we don’t appreciate their equal value and usefulness. I believe we must become aware of our feelings; and whether they relate to actual reality, memories, habits, or other states. I often observe people who claim to feel very unhappy; even though the moment appears rather exceptional. They’re not in any physical pain; they’re enjoying beautiful weather; they’re feeding on high quality food, etc. When pushed to describe their “unhappiness” they describe past events in; and their habitual thoughts about those events. They seem to choose to live poking around in their “unhappy” thoughts; rather than in their actual experience within the real NOW moments of life… literally missing the opportunity to feel happy…

The notion of “Pursuit of Happiness” may cause some of these problems. That “idea” suggests that happiness needs to be chased after; or sought in some way. I suggest that if we don’t have a reason, in this very actual moment, to feel sad, angry, frightened, excited, compassionate… we may as well enjoy the moment as a happy moment… joyful to be alive… glad, fulfilled, pleased, satisfied…

The backache, hunger, tension, and other “feelings” will come and go. Enjoy happy happy NOW.


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