It’s been quite a pandemic, hasn’t it? The relentless unpredictability, separation, and uncertainty lingers in the sticky, summer air. Behind our masks, we can almost smell the fear, frustration, restlessness, and agitation among both strangers and loved ones. And as we enter the 5th month of quarantine, needless to say, we are seriously missing the simple pleasures and daily routines of life. We desperately want to feel like ourselves again! It’s easy to notice in certain moments, how immensely unhappy we feel. But, who says you need to be happy?
Happiness is merely one in hundreds of emotions we experience in a single day. The meaning we attribute to this emotion is subjective. Yet, we often make happiness a priority. We’re constantly seeking it and are scared to lose it. We perceive happiness as an end goal or state of being, which in turn, sets us up for an unrealistic outlook on life.
Let me tell you what happiness is and what it is not. Happiness is: a word that reflects feelings of pleasure. Happiness is NOT: an indicator of success, strength, or accomplishment.
So, let’s change the narrative. What if instead of assuming that lack of happiness is sadness, or that sadness is weakness, we instead viewed these emotions for what they are? Emotions. What if instead of seeking happiness, we sought peace, gratitude, or contentment in each day? These emotions don’t receive the same shine and recognition as happiness, but they are equally as essential. Allow me to explain.
Peace is a state of tranquility or calmness. This emotion frees us from any worries, intense emotions, or judgments. It is a state of stillness and relaxation. Happiness may be able to tune out negative emotions, but peace soothes them. There will always be painful moments in life that we cannot avoid. Rather than pushing these moments away, it would benefit us to work through them. Through the lens of peace, we can learn skills to comfort our negative emotions and give them the space to process.
Gratitude is a state of thankfulness and appreciation. This emotion helps us to see the bigger picture. When feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to zoom in on what’s going wrong. We become hyper focused on the flawed parts of our lives. Instead of noticing what we have, we highlight what is missing, or what we lack. Why can’t it be this way? It’s not good enough. I’m not good enough. Gratitude gives us space to accept what is out of our control. Perfection is a mindset, not an objective. Gratitude reminds us that though we may not always get what we want, there will always be an abundance of just enough.
Contentment is a state of fulfillment or satisfaction. It is OKAY to be satisfied with where you are right now. Although society urges us to stay ten steps ahead, in rushing to the next checkpoint, we neglect to notice how far we’ve already come. Stop a moment and take in the satisfaction of your progress. The pressure to strive for more, robs us from enjoying what we’ve already earned and have now. The only time that is guaranteed and can be controlled, is the present.
We must learn to ride the waves of our emotions as we coast the currents of life. All emotions are temporary, so hang onto your board and rest assured that with the changing of the tide, you will be brought to new waters and new sights. However you choose to handle the rapid waters of this pandemic, I encourage you to be gentle with yourselves. Seek moments of peace within your day, practice gratitude for what you have, and pause for moments of contentment, taking in how far you’ve come. Life is meant to be lived. Happiness is overrated.