Happily Ever After but After What?

“To offer no resistance to life is to be in a state of grace, ease, and lightness. This state is then no longer dependent upon things being in a certain way, good or bad. It seems almost paradoxical, yet when your inner dependency on form is gone, the general conditions of your life, the outer forms, tend to improve greatly. Things, people, or conditions that you thought you needed for your happiness now come to you with no struggle or effort on your part, and you are free to enjoy and appreciate them – while they last. All those things, of course, will still pass away, cycles will come and go, but with dependency gone there is no fear of loss anymore. Life flows with ease.” 
― Eckhart Tolle

Is it really all or nothing? One has to be constantly happy, every day, all the time, 7 days a week. Is that what most people expect, and by expecting this constant joy, are they really fooling themselves into a dark hole? For me, happiness is overrated. Not that it is not attainable, yet, like living happily after seems to always be at the end of a story, then we can only expect to be happy when we meet whatever goal we think will bring us joy?

Bliss, Joy, Serenity and all those happy feelings!

Not so. Think of happiness as moments, moments of laughter, of contentment, times of peace. Those are the moments I’ve been waiting all my life. Those times, when nothing else matters. When I am standing in the street allowing the snow to fall on my face, no cars are passing, and I can hear the dead silence muffled by the precipitation. Those times when my children and I are acting silly, watching movies, or just laughing so hard our sides hurt, or when I am taking pictures of anything and everything which catches my eye.

I hear too many people say: “I just want to be happy!” yet, what I have learned with my illness (depression) is that you cannot be happy all the time, and what about all those other emotions? Would you tell a person who just lost a parent or child “just be happy” “suck it up” or “cheer up”? I really do not think so. Whatever grief this person is experiencing needs to take its time. No clown, or circus act will make that person smile, and he/she should not feel shame or pressure. Just love, compassion, and understanding.

We could make this world a happier place if we had a bit more compassion to give, and when I say compassion, I mean the deep unconditional love and understanding a mother gives her child. Compassion towards ourselves, when we do have a setback, or when we are tired, or when we need a nap. Why not give ourselves the respite we need? I truly believe self-compassion leads to compassion towards others which in turn, brings us happiness. Happiness in spurts of 100 times over, more than if we ignore what we truly want or need.

“I really need a massage” says my friend. I say “Bring the kids to me and go!” she yells “I have no time for a massage!” all the while staring at the gift certificate on her bulletin board her sister gave her a year ago. What she is really saying is: “I have no time to love and care for myself!” What she is expressing is a dire need to fulfill what everyone else wants or needs or desires, no time for what she needs. Does that make her happy? I think not, and in turn, the people around her will silently watch her fade away.

This was me, only a few years ago. Never time for me, no writing, no walking, no new clothes. No dancing, no photography, no life. I just wanted to be happy, yet I ignored all the things which brought a smile to my face.

When I fell into a deep depression, my creative soul got lost. There was no more interest in anything and all I wanted to do is escape. Go away so far that no one could bother me. Some people it is sleep, or eating, or drugs or alcohol, yet I wanted to disappear, because happiness was nowhere to be seen, and to top it all off, everyone around me seemed to depend on me for their smiles while I was categorically depending on them!

Not healthy – not happy!

In reality, like enjoying a nice meal, happiness is that, enjoying periodic moments of true bliss, joy and laughter. It is when all feels in alignment, and really, the soul is shining. In between, there is anxiety, nervousness, sadness, grief, anger, and even at times, desperation, yet now I know to savour the moments, take time for myself, and really breathe into each and every single thing I feel. Nothing is wrong if you are authentic and loving towards yourself. Wearing a “happiness” mask only makes things worse. My motto for the past year is: “ride the tide”: It could be a Tsunami of panic, or a flooding of cheerfulness, tornadoes of fear, or heat-wave of love. It could be beatitude, enchantment, bliss, anger, resentment or gloom. Yet, what I know for sure is all these emotions well up and then go out like the tide, and back again.

There is no shame in feeling blue. There is only strength when one acknowledges its presence, because it’s in taking the time to breathe into the unpleasant emotions, talking or writing about them, letting someone safe know exactly what we are feeling, that we leave room for gratitude. There are ways to release the negative emotions by inviting the good ones to stay longer and more often, but we cannot deny that they are there just in the name of “happiness”. Set backs will be harder to take if one thinks being happy is thing we must attain at some moment in our lives, instead of a slew of moments dispersed evenly during our day.

I think I am finding the grey in the middle of black and white. In return, I can see the spectrum of the rainbow, thus living a more authentic and happy life.

Further reading on compassion:  The Power of Compassion by Kim Larocque

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6 Comments

  1. This was wonderful, Kim! I so-o agree. I remember thinking that being happy meant being HAPPY! every day; void of sad feelings, set backs, or heartache. As I came to understand that I was a “depressive” I realized that happiness was not about that at all. As someone who wouldn’t have known joy if it fell out of the sky and hit me on the head, I began to take notice of joyful moments. Those moments add up and when I’m having a depression episode I know that I am capable of happiness and joy and can let it ride its course.

  2. That’s marvelous! I agree with you, there is no happy all the time. If there wasn’t the opposite in varying degrees, how would we appreciate happiness? It makes those moments all the sweeter.

  3. What a fantastic read, I nodded through it all the time.
    I have been in a deep depression too, and sometimes it tries to come back at me, especially in winter.

    For me the key is knowing joy is at my center and acceptance. I accept every emotion that comes up in me and let them flow through me, like a river flows through a landscape, or like a wave on a calm lake. I just cry when I feel like crying and grump when I feel like grumping. Then, before I know it, I am back to my calm, joyful self.

    It all comes down to accepting yourself, Kim, and from what you write here, I know you do. Much love!

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