Screw the pursuit of happiness

Screw the pursuit of happiness

It's as if a seed of searching for happiness is planted in us at a young age.  

"Do what makes you happy." 

"As long as she/he makes you happy."  

"Don't worry, BE HAPPY!"

You know what I say now?  

Screw happiness.  

Not the entirety of happiness, but the PURSUIT of finding it. 

What is it? Are we suppose to continue longing, looking, or searching for some metaphoric place, some source of comfort "out there," maybe a person or situation that is to provide us this said "happiness?" And until we are "there," well, do we just keep looking? All the searching has done one thing for me- made me unhappy. So if looking for happiness makes me unhappy, well, then I'm done pursuing it. 

So now instead of incessantly (and unhappily) seeking out this place of happiness, I've began the process of learning to accept and welcome unhappiness. Stick with me. 

I consider myself a genuinely "happy person," most of the time. But before recovery I often masked unhappiness out of fear of not belonging, seeming ungrateful, or disappointing others. I never wanted to stir the pot or express my feelings that may cause discomfort or confrontation (unless I was tanked, then watch out!) But seriously, I felt unworthy of this allowance and buried any "unacceptable" emotions deep down. I lived a false sense of happiness, leading others to believe I had it all together. Think the "picture perfect social media type" happy if you will. 

But that's a lot of pressure, and a lot of work; the constant covering up, faking, pretending. We just aren't comfortable with being unhappy, nor are we willing to welcome the unhappiness of our friends and family.  

I often over hear mothers telling their children to "cheer up!" or "be happy!" Kindhearted friends saying "get over it!" And "there's so much to be grateful and happy about!" There's not a lot of room left for sadness or unhappiness in today's society, and all can be fixed if we just turn that frown upside down. Or worse- we numb. Or run. Or avoid. Or try to control. Or live in excess or worry or anxiety... and, well, you get it. 

The truth is, no one can be happy all the time. And no person, job, item or circumstance brings everlasting happiness. No outer thing can do that. It may be appealing with it's instant gratification, but it's continuously fleeting and unfulfilling. So I'm done searching. You know why? Because my happiness lies within. I've discovered that it's never been "out there" in the first place. 

Today I give myself permission to be unhappy, to grieve, to frown. I give that same permission to my friends and family too. I don't try to fix or avoid it. I don't try to go around it. I just feel it.   You know what I've found by not pursuing happiness? In not avoiding pain, running, or numbing?

It's pretty fascinating actually.  

Just on the other side of pain, of sadness, anxiety, or disappointment... is THAT happiness after all. Unrefined, pure, authentic happiness. It's hidden on the other side of everything I had always avoided.  

I often reflect back after a personal trial and think... wow. I did it. I felt. I didn't run. I didn't escape. I didn't push it away. I looked right at it, and walked right through it. I may be battered and bruised, or a bit scraped up, but that beats faking it every single time. 

It's in that place, that lies a deep rooted, untouched source of authentic happiness. One inside of me, ever flowing and always available and waiting. No searching necessary. No person responsible. No outside effort or circumstance. Only my willingness to push through the present discomfort in honesty and vulnerability and reap the benefits of it's purity just on the other side. 

Keep showing up friends.  

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The alcoholic who owns a bar

The alcoholic who owns a bar

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