There are few things I find as frustrating as the obsession with happiness. Or, perhaps better phrasing would be, with the appearance of happiness. I’m not saying that we should not strive for happiness in life. And it’s always good to avoid negative self-talk or other behaviors that propagate an unbalanced, negative world view. However, tough times happen. Negative emotions happen. And I’ve always felt that it’s horribly invalidating to be told to “just smile.” People should feel what they feel, and be able to express it without being shamed for it, as long as they’re not doing so in a destructive way. Sometimes it’s important to honor the dark. It’s not particularly fun, but sometimes sorrow can have an almost beautiful quality to it. It’s aching and bitter, but often somehow…sweet? At the very least, a melancholy kind of meaningful. It feels important, to dwell sometimes in that feeling. To give it space and time. To listen, and to talk, and explore.
In general, I’ve found that emotions of all kinds are far less damaging to one’s self and others when we just acknowledge them and ride them out, than when they are fought.