In today’s society, there appears to be the push for “true happiness.” If you’re not happy, then let’s talk about it and implement various measures to make sure you are happy. While in theory this doesn’t seem so bad and could potentially open up conversation about mental health, we seem to have forgotten there is nothing wrong with being neither happy nor sad, but just alright. This is problematic.
When people ask how I am, I tend to say that I’m alright. I don’t say it to avoid further questioning, I say it because on a day to day basis, that’s how I feel. Yet, the response I tend to get back from friends and family is, “Just alright?”
Why is being alright not acceptable anymore? Why does society seem to pity those who are feeling just okay?
My theory is this has to do with the commodification and capitalism of happiness. If you’re having a good day, chances are that you’re likely to reward yourself with some sort of purchase. It could be something small like a treat from a café or maybe you indulge yourself in a bit of a shopping spree. With phrases like “treat yourself” being tossed around, we’ve been taught to reward our happiness with materials and objects.
On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, if you’re feeling unhappy you will also likely buy yourself something to provide you a sense comfort. This could be comfort food or goods that are marketed towards relaxation like bath bomb. It falls under this belief that not only will the simple act of purchasing release endorphins and increase your mood but also the materials themselves will help with that increase. When you’re happy you spend money and when you’re sad you spend money. There is no money made when you’re just alright.
There is a lot of pressure to be happy and to have great days. This can be rather toxic because if we don’t feel happy, then there’s this sense of failure. This disappointment can drive us further into our negative emotions. Eventually we might forget what happiness is. Just a quick reminder, happiness is a feeling, an emotion and it is subject to constant change, based on a number of factors.
I would argue that being alright is the most optimal place to be. When I’m alright, I’m in a head space where I can embrace happy moments and appreciate them without taking them for granted. I don’t expect happiness all the time, so when I do experience it to whatever extent, I’m grateful. If something bad happens, yes of course I might be upset about it but for the most part it will not ruin my day. I’m not in this euphoric high where the slightest inconvenience will feel like the end of the world. I can handle it better because I was at a grounded state to begin with.
If you’re feeling happy and having a great day, I’m happy for you. If you’re choosing to celebrate those great days with trying out a new restaurant or placing a hefty order at your favourite store and it’s fulfilling to you, again I’m happy for you. If you’re feeling like complete crap and need that pick me up, do what you should do to get yourself in place you want to be. If you’re like me and you’re alright, from my experience, know that you’re not in a bad place.