Life is not an elevator. It is stairs all the way, and sometimes you go up a few and then back one or two.
It’s one of the things we humans all have in common. You may think you can name people who are so happy they’re floating in the clouds, but, trust me here, even they get stuck in the rain every now and then.
Here are some reasons why it’s OK when a little unhappiness darkens your day.
1. Happiness is never constant. And that’s not so bad. If we don’t have a little sadness or upset come our way, we’d never know what true happiness really is.
Even so, many people get angry when they’re unhappy, which makes everything worse. It’s best to accept a difficult situation and know that this too shall pass. Your discomfort comes from not really knowing what’s happening around you and not feeling like you can get through it. Just remember that you always have before and that you will again.
2. Some people are constitutionally incapable of feeling happy. They have a disorder called anhedonia. Others suffer from a constant low-grade depression called dysthymia. If you have one of these biochemical imbalances in your brain, happiness will be elusive. We all might have a drop or two of a “sadness bearing” chemical in our very complicated brains.
Understanding that our body chemistry has as much to do with our level of happiness as our circumstances gives us more power to deal with the uncomfortable moments — and, for most people, they are just moments. Having difficult feelings from time to time is totally normal.
3. Everyone has their own “happiness quotient.” Your HQ is the amount of happiness you are capable of feeling in your life. People with higher HQs have a greater ability to brush things off than people with lower HQs. What could send you into a tizzy doesn’t faze them. If you get to know your own HQ, you will have much more control over bad moments, and they will be less likely to run you and cause you to feel badly.
4. There will always be tough times. Some of us are more prone to feeling down, especially when things are stressful, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some happiness in your life and even decrease the amount of time you’re feeling down. You have more control than you realize here. You can use your willpower and tools like visualization to make the tough times easier and to reduce stress in your life — and who doesn’t have stress and want to get rid of it?
5. Our whole world has been tilted on its ear. We are still in a pandemic, and although it seems to be getting better in some places, it’s not going away. That alone will chip away at your happiness level, and it only makes sense. We are all searching for ways to compensate for the loss of our social lives and connections with other people. So don’t take it personally.
I’d love to be happy all the time. Who wouldn’t? But I know that’s not possible. I have learned to take the bad with the good, to really enjoy my happy moments and try not to wallow in the sad ones.
Sometimes it’s all about the choices we make within ourselves that are the difference between happiness and discomfort. Understanding this will help you deal with life’s difficult circumstances and find your own balance while we are getting through this.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., is an award-winning therapist and humanitarian. He is also a columnist, the author of seven books, and a blogger for PsychologyToday.com with nearly 27 million readers. He practices in Santa Barbara and is available for video sessions. Reach him at email@example.com. His column appears Sundays and Tuesdays in the News-Press.