The Myth of Happiness

Hello Dazzle! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today, I’m glad that you are here. Today I want to talk about the myth of happiness. This is a topic that is really dear to my heart because I wasted a lot of years trying to be happy. And the truth is that I never found any kind of semblance of peace in my life until I gave on the myth of happiness.

So the first thing that I want to address is directed at the hundreds of comments that I have been getting about how I am always positive or always happy. I am not. You guys are coming into my life at a really good time. I am a virus. I am blowing up on social media and I am getting an insane amount of traffic on my social media accounts. Especially on Twitch. And that feels really good. It has made me happy to have people to talk to. I have been excited to see people engaging with my content in a meaningful way. All of this has, understandably, provided a huge boost to my baseline mood. However, regardless if this increased engagement proves to be sustainable or not, my mood is not.

If the engagement declines, then I will no longer receive the mood boosting benefits and might even face the challenges of dealing with feelings of rejection. If this sustains, then at some point this will just become my new normal, every day life and will no longer provide the huge hits of dopamine and serotonin that I’m getting from it right now. But either way, this fairly consistent happy and excited state will not sustain. It can’t. We as humans are not designed to exist that way.

Being happy all the time is not attainable in a healthy way. Our emotions serve as signals and regulators in our bodies. They are cues that tell us how things are going in our environment. Feelings of anxiety and fear exist to alert us to potential danger. Anger is a warning that our boundaries are being crossed or that justice is being violated. Sadness is the signal of loss and the need for a change in our way of engaging with the world. Because they are telling us very important things, we will never exist with out these more uncomfortable emotions.

We often think of our emotions as being a response to external stimuli and in a way, that’s accurate. But, let’s do a little bit of a frame shift and instead think of them as an internal status report. When we have an emotional response to something, it is a report regarding our personal needs. If our personal needs are being met, we have emotions like happiness and contentment. If our needs are being denied, we experience emotions like sadness and indifference. When we are being threatened, we have feelings like fear or anger.

When we consider emotions in this context, it is impossible to consider any of them as good or bad emotions. After all, they are simply communicating our status in the same way that hunger or fullness is communicating a status. Our emotions are no different. Like hunger, some of our emotions indicate that there is a lack that needs to be addressed. While, like fullness, other emotions are a report that the needs are being met. Hunger and fullness are not good or bad. It is a way of our body giving us information about how best to safely navigate our environment and meet our needs.

It is important to understand that attaining happiness as a constant state of being is considered pathology. The name for that pathology is mania. The reason that it is considered pathology is that a constant state of happiness is proven to be destructive to the person who is feeling that state. They loose perspective of what is safe behavior and take risks that often lead them to a great deal of harm. They loose the ability to gauge what is really happening in the world around them and their perceptions of reality become distorted. Sometimes so severely that they become full on delusional. The most damaging thing about mania is the person’s lost of insight into their own state of being due to how good it feels to be in a manic state.

Alright, so if a constant state of happiness isn’t a realistic goal, what is? Contentment. This isn’t a state that implies you aren’t feeling all the messy things that make us human. Rather it is existing in a state of being where you feel satisfied with what you have. It is about feeling that you as a person are enough, just as you are. It is about feeling that you are making enough money and doing well enough at your job. It’s about feeling that you belong to a part of a community that gives you meaning and purpose. Contentment is an attainable goal and is sustainable in a healthy way. Because you can be content and still get angry or anxious or sad or happy. It is about feeling like life is ok most of the time and accepting that it is going to be perfect.

The other thing to understand is that social media distorts our perceptions of reality. This is because you will never see the full life of a person on social media. Even though I try to present myself honestly and in a genuine way, you will never see me at my worst. You will never see me when I am so sick that I cannot get out of bed. You will never see me when I am struggling with despair. You will never see me fully grappling with my darkest demons. I will not stream or make posts on any of those days. It’s not because I wish to hide those part of myself from you. It is because I am so busy fighting to simply survive that I have no time and no spoons to get on social media.

I understand that for many that will sound melodramatic. And that’s ok. I am so glad that you have never had the life experiences that allow that perception to readily make sense to you. But there are also many who related with that statement deeply. There is no way that I can present to you what those days really look like after the fact. But I need you to understand that I am no different then anyone else. I have just as many struggles as you do. I have fought the demons of depression and inadequacy my entire life. Those demons have brought me to my knees. I have a history of self harm. I am often suicidal. There was even once in my life that the demons pushed me so close to the edge that I went as far as making a plan, making the preparations and then sitting there looking at the option before me with real consideration. That is a darkness and a battle that you will never see on social media.

So, I need you to know that I am not some special unicorn. I am just a human. Just like you. I am a human that has made the choice, every day, to live my life with kindness and compassion towards the people around me because I am terrified of being the thing that pushes someone off that fragile edge that I too have stood on. And just maybe, my kindness and compassion can help pull them back so that they can fight one more day. I am not doing anything remarkable. It is a choice that every human can make. You can choose to wake up every day and make the commitment for kindness and compassion.

Because kindness and compassion are skills that you can learn and get better at just like riding a bike. Because I wasn’t always a kind or compassionate person. There was a time in my life when I was a very hateful person. When I was young, I was so wrapped up in my own hurting that I lashed out at everything around me. There was a time that I desperately wanted everyone around me to hurt as much as I did because somehow I thought that would make me feel less alone. I believed that the only way to protect myself from being a victim was being the strongest and the scariest person that no one wanted to fuck with.

But then I was given kindness and compassion for no reason other then I existed. It was like feeling rain for the first time and I made a choice to change. I became a different person. Now I am the person that dedicates their life to helping other people. Every day I wake up and renew my commitment that I will be as kind and compassionate as I can be for just that day. You can make the same choice.

Well, that’s about it for my rambling today. Thanks for coming and spending some time with me. If you like what you read, click on that like button. It really does help! Until we talk again, you take care of yourselves!

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