Should Happiness Be Our End Goal?

Have you ever been alone with your thoughts and questioned if you were truly happy? In today’s society, happiness is preached as the ideal state of being. If you’re not happy, then you must not be doing something right. However, what we rarely hear in the media about happiness is that you do not need to feel happy every moment of every day to be “truly happy.” If that were the case, happiness would be unattainable.

For a while, I thought that if I was not in a constant state of happiness that I was not truly happy. I viewed any minor sadness as a setback on my path to “becoming happy.” This soon turned into a vicious cycle where I constantly went back and forth between feeling extremely happy and extremely sad.

But I have learned that you cannot live in a constant state of happiness because happiness is a feeling, not a permanent state. However, you can live in a permanent state of sadness: that is called depression, and it requires a great deal of support and help.

While I have worked hard on coming to terms with my own bouts of sadness and finding ways to overcome them, I have also been developing an ever-present fear of any kind of sadness. In a time when my end goal was to stop feeling constantly sad and depressed, this was not much of an issue. I only realized this disconnect after I had stopped feeling so down and started to have much more regular emotions. These emotions sometimes felt bland and boring, but I was grateful they weren’t antagonizing or painful. I started celebrating each moment of happiness and rejecting any moment of sadness, no matter big or small.

Now that I have recognized my fear of sadness, I want to eradicate it. So, when I find myself feeling frustrated or upset, I don’t try to cover up these emotions. Instead, I practice a technique called mindfulness, which involves looking at a situation or an emotion objectively. I classify my emotions and emotional situations by how they make me feel, being careful to not make assumptions about why they make me feel this way. Through this, I avoid spiraling into disastrous and counterproductive chains of thought. After I’m done with this, I try to get a breath of fresh air by taking a walk or writing in my journal. This has helped me face my less-than-happy emotions head-on without letting them control me.

Next time you find yourself unhappy, don’t let it discourage you. Just like happiness, sadness is a normal emotion that we all have to confront, and you simply need to practice mindfulness.


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