The Precariousness of Happiness


Do you ever feel that blissful wave carrying you up, up, up in moments where you feel joy from the inside out and then later riding on crashing low or feel yourself getting pulled back into negative thinking and a more pessimistic view?

First, we need to realize that maintaining a sustained state of happiness is not realistic. Happiness arrives in moments. 

There is also something that we could be doing that is actually a happiness BLOCKER. It's when we begin to notice that we are actually happy and this can also feel downright scary, so we start to shift our focus away from the good feelings and begin to focus on things in our life that bring us pain or put us in a lowered energetic state so we (feel) we have less to lose. If we are at bottom, we can't get much lower so the pain of a drop off is much less. Being in a lowered energetic state can be way more familiar than a precarious state of happiness.

We might protect ourselves with all sorts of unconscious strategies such as focusing in on something that is not working - problems at work for example, frustrations at home or a troubled relationship with family, quickly snapping us out of enjoying how wonderful we are feeling in the moment and sabotaging our happiness as well as the happiness of others around us. If we are more used to being in a low, depressed or hopeless state, as soon as things start to go well or we experience fulfilling intimacy, happiness or inner alignment, we may get scared and default to focusing on any negative aspects of our lives to distract and protect ourselves from future pain.

The good news is that with self awareness you can notice if this is becoming a habit or a default setting. If life has been one struggle after another for an extended period of time, happiness may start to seem out of range and terrifying when it does arrive and can even invoke anxiety. 

We may ask ourselves: Could it really be true this time? Will this last? Could this person actually feel the same happiness I feel when we are together? This fear can also cause us to cling to people and experiences for dear life, afraid that the happy feelings will disappear if we lose the person or experience associated with the happiness. We can push others away reactively or reject experiences that may bring us joy out of fear of potential loss. The more happiness we feel when with someone we love or doing something we really enjoy, the more emotionally invested we become. There is potentially more risk involved to get hurt.

It's possible to experience more moments of happiness though and stay there longer, learning not to quickly react to fear and flee from intimacy or cling to the things and people who bring us joy. We can keep a lighter and brighter overall perspective when we realize that these are habits we have created to protect ourselves from feeling a harsh crash or feeling of loss after feeling times of bliss. 

Taking it all one step further is putting less of a focus on chasing our happiness and instead shifting to co-creating a true inner alignment with ourselves and others. This happens when we are connected to our purpose, are aware of and communicating our needs, and are actively living with our values in a positive way. This kind of alignment leads to a peace from within - which is less flashy, but a more sustainable kind of happiness.