Saturday, January 26, 2019

The Unhealthy Pursuit of Happiness

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By: Sarah K.

It feels like mental health is the biggest buzz on the news, and that basically everyone has been concerned with it. It is important, but it seems to me that people in medical and other health-related professions seem to be a little fixated on feeling well mentally.
            Happiness is about balance, you might wake up feeling neutral, nothing bad, nothing good. As the day goes on, good things happen and so do bad things. The more good things or bad things raise or lower you from the neutral point. If you were happy 100% the neutral point might go up, which would make you have to work harder to keep it being happy. If you're sad all the time, the neutral point might go down.
            I went for a well-visit to my doctor's office recently, they gave me a quiz-like paper with questions about my mental health. I answered the questions honestly, saying that I was sad sometimes, but not an unusual sad, just the day to day ups and downs that a person would experience. Then, I was told I was borderline depressed. I told her that I felt completely fine, there was nothing wrong, but it didn't seem like she heard me, she kept pushing on. This made me feel like there was something wrong with me, which I thought could lead to actual mental health issues.
            Happiness is a positive emotion and yes, you should feel happy, but I think some people take it a little too far. Finding stuff that makes you happy is important, but not so much that it takes over your life. Being happy all the time isn't good, just like feeling sad all the time isn't, you should feel a range of emotions, not just one.
            You've probably heard from many people that you should be happy. Finding things that make you happy should be something to strive for, but I think there is a point at which it becomes unhealthy. Pursuing happiness also shouldn't stop day to day life from happening. Cleaning your room or taking out the garbage might not make you happy, but it still has to be done, it's part of life. Seeking out happiness is good, but it probably can’t be your entire life.
            It seems like there is a common belief that negative emotion should never be experienced and that you should always, always be happy. If you mention feeling sad at times to almost anyone, you will most likely be told there is something wrong with you. The thing is, there isn't. Feeling some negative emotions is normal, and healthy, as long as they are in balance.
            It seems, many people have a very strange view of being happy. The goal, to them, seems to be being happy all the time, never feel sad or angry. And when someone isn't always happy, well then, they must need mental help.
            Being sad, or angry, sometimes doesn't mean you need help, as long as it doesn't take over your life, it doesn't mean you're broken. Even the happiest person in the world is bound to have those days when they are angry at something or someone, or feel sad because the world seems to hate them, or just simply feeling even, neither happy nor sad. 
            Being happy with yourself means accepting these emotions, not pushing them away. Emotions are part of being human. Being happy is important, but every day, every moment cannot be devoted to being happy. Otherwise, we would never know what real joy is!

If you or someone you know struggles with feeling sad in a way that doesn’t feel balanced, please see a healthcare professional who can help out or talk to an adult you trust. 


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