This is something that I've been wanting to write about for a while now. There are a few reasons why too. One is that I grew up hearing that happiness is an emotion — and a fleeting one at that; that's why the focus should actually be more on being in a state of joy. Secondly, I can't tell you how many times I have looked a husband or wife in the eye as they told me they were leaving their marriage — not because of infidelity or abuse; it was simply because "I'm not happy anymore" (more on that in a bit). And three, I also can't tell you how many times a day will go by without me hearing or reading some variation of "do whatever makes you happy". LAWD.
Am I anti-happiness? That would be borderline ridiculous. What I will say, though, is because this is a topic that isn't addressed nearly enough (at least, in my opinion), I do think that happiness has become an idol for a lot of people — one that is causing a lot of folks to lose sight of what should be more important: being healthy. Holistically so.
So, let's knock it out. I've got six reasons why this obsession with being happy all of the time should be redirected into getting and staying healthy. Even if that means not always being happy in order to get there. And while that might sound like a concession at first, trust me, this kind of life approach is a great flex. Here's why.
1. A Ton of Toxic Ish Can Make You “Happy”
Shellie Reneè Warren? If there is one thing that she — who is I — is all about is a good orgasm. And y'all, when I was out here throwing my legs back, something that made me extremely happy was sex. Not just sex with any man but a fine, chocolate and super tall Black one who had a real freaky side. And y'all, while we were in the newness of the situationship or while we were having sex, I was extremely happy. Oh, but when the positive sign on a pregnancy test, when I had to go to the doctor to treat chlamydia, when I found out that some of them were lying to me for weeks or months on end — do I need to go on? — none of that made me very happy at all. And the unhappiness? It typically lasted longer than the happiness did.
That said, a definition of happiness is pleasure. You know, when my father was drunk or high, he used to say that made him happy. He's gone now. Intentional overdosing from substance abuse did it.
Point is, do you know how much toxic BS out here can make you temporarily happy and yet not be good for you at all? So many spouses that I've worked with have cheated on their partner with someone who, according to them, "makes them happy". Yet what they are really saying is the person brought them pleasure. Noted. Still, at what cost? Making decisions solely based on what tickles your fancy at any given time isn't a sign of maturity — it's actually quite the opposite. While pleasure is cool, it shouldn't be a main motivator in why you do — or don't do — what you do. Mostly because, like an orgasm or a high, it's very momentary.
This brings me to my next point.
2. Happiness Is Temporary and Circumstantial
If you're currently in a serious relationship and are contemplating marriage (check out "Please Be Clear On These 7 Things Before Getting Engaged"), I'm gonna just put it right on out there and say that if your main reason for doing so is because your man "makes you happy", you should definitely pump the brakes.
For one thing, it's too much pressure on anyone to expect them to make you happy. You need to figure out how to do that for yourself because humans (including the love of your life) are fallible which means they are going to disappoint you from time to time which means that there will be times when you are totally unhappy with them. Next, happiness is fickle AF. It's totally based on circumstances and since circumstances are constantly subject to change, that means relying on them to make you happy all of the time is futile.
Again, this is a very valid reason for why so many marriages don't last. Folks don't take all of what I just said into account, so the moment that they aren't delighted in someone, ecstatic over the relationship or in a state of bliss about their commitment, they take that as their cue to bounce and find someone else who will get them back to their "happy place". Problem is, eventually the next person will disappoint them too. Now what?
Is it wonderful when you can feel happy about your life? Sure. Know what's better? When you can understand that like all things in this world, happiness has peak moments and also times when it's not nearly as present. That way, you won't find yourself making poor choices, all because you're chasing the happiness feeling rather than doing what's actually best, long-term, for you. And speaking of that…next point.
3. “Happy” Can Be Rooted in Selfishness and Irresponsibility
Most of y'all know that I am a marriage life coach which is why marriage examples are what I provide a lot. For this particular point — whew. There is a former client of mine who cheated on her husband (among a lot of other things), her husband wanted to make things work anyway, she filed for divorce and then a few months later, she came to me about wanting to reconcile with him. We did over a year of counseling, they got married again and then, after a few years, she filed again (this chick). Her reason? She wasn't "happy" anymore. And as if that wasn't draining enough, a few weeks after the divorce, she came to her ex-husband talking about wanting to get married for the third time. Hmph. I'm pretty sure you can just about guess what her ex had to say about that.
Twice, this woman blew up her family (they've got kids). Yet because she's so addicted to "feeling happy", she didn't care. In fact, she's so self-consumed, immature and irresponsible that she allows her emotions to sway her like a kite on a windy day — whatever she thinks will make her happy at any given time, that's what she wants to do, regardless of how her choices will affect other people.
Self-aware and emotionally mature people know that sometimes, you've gotta do things that don't make you happy. How do I know? I mean, does going to work every day always make you happy? Does paying bills always make you happy? Does doing things for others when you'd rather focus on yourself always make you happy? No. That doesn't change the fact that they are still the right and responsible things to do. That doesn't change the fact that you know that you need to overlook your current feelings about what needs to be done, so that you can feel more content in the long run.
Oftentimes, happiness is so euphoric that it doesn't care about using foresight. That's why it's far more beneficial, in the long run, to allow healthy rather than happy to be your guide.
And this brings us to my next point.
4. “Healthy” Can Help You to Make Wiser Decisions
A part of the reason why I'm so passionate about this topic is because, I know that the moment when I started saying to myself, "Forget what makes me happy. What will make and then keep me healthy?", the quality of my life, overall, drastically began to improve. That's because, rather than looking for the people, places, things and ideas that solely brought me pleasure, I sought out what would help me to achieve being what healthy, by definition, does.
To be healthy is to be sound. To be healthy is to be mentally strong. To be healthy is to be energetic, stable and powerful. To be healthy is to have a full life.
Now just think about it. If all you're looking for is what can bring you pleasure (one definition of that is "frivolous entertainment", by the way), can you see how that could result in you ultimately making all sorts of impulsive and/or reckless decisions? On the other hand, when you're out to do what makes your mind, body and spirit healthy, can you see how that can totally shift your energy and focus? By doing what makes you healthy, that can bring you so much more than temporary happiness; it can cultivate lasting joy. Next point.
5. “Healthy” Typically Lasts Longer
Interestingly enough, one definition of happiness is contentment. To me, I think this is the spiritual approach to the word because you've got to be in a pretty good space, spiritually, to even understand what it means to be content and how to embrace it as a total life goal. To be content is to be "satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else" — and geeze, how many people do you know who live like this?
For the record, being content isn't about being stagnant (check out "6 Questions To Ask Yourself To See If You're Stagnant (Or Not)"). Being content isn't about settling either. However, it does mean that you are not out here, refusing to take accountability for the choices and commitments that you've made — whether personally or professionally — just because you "feel" like it.
Contentment is about being "adult enough" to understand that always looking for immediate gratification or the next thing to tickle your fancy isn't the wisest way to move. Contentment reminds us all to think ahead and factor in as many outcomes as possible when it comes to the decisions that we make; it reminds us that it's not solely about what will make us feel good now but what will be the smartest thing to do that will last for the duration.
And when you approach things from this angle, you've got a far greater chance of your marriage, your relationships, your money, your health…I could go on and on, being in a solid and stable state for years to come. One more point.
6. There’s Growth in Being Happy About Getting Healthy
While in an interview not too long ago, someone asked me what I thought a sign of true internal evolution is. My reply was, "When you can learn to want what you need, you have truly evolved." Something about children is they couldn't care less about wanting their needs. In fact, it's almost like they see their needs as their nemesis. Teenagers are quite similar because they think they are so "grown" that they know what is best for them and oftentimes, whatever that is, it still falls into the "want" category.
However, when you've really become an adult — and by that, I mean more mature not just older — you really do start to take note of what is the right thing for your overall health and well-being. And, whatever THAT is, it is what you start getting "happy" about…because you know that it will be as good for you as it has the potential to be good to you (check out "Question: Is The Man In Your Life Good 'TO' You? Good 'FOR' You? Or...Both?").
I already know. This was a "big girl panties" kind of piece. Yet I can guarantee that if you start shifting your focus from happy to healthy, you really will make smarter choices which can help you to become full of lasting joy in the long run. Maybe not immediately but definitely eventually — and that's a good thing. For you. Literally.
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