Brandon Sweat, a freshman computer science major from North Carolina, chooses to be happy and surrounds himself with things he loves. Things such as the new rock climbing gym in the Human Performance Center. Photo by Cammie Johnson.
If I told you I was happy about the topic of this article I would be lying.
When I originally decided to write this article I was excited. I thought of all the ways happiness affects me and how I can use my own happiness to lift others up. I came up with an endless amount of possibilities and ideas to talk about. I looked up quotes and sang happy tunes as I planned my article.
When I sat down to write, I ran into a problem. Today, I am not happy. In fact, I am rather frustrated. As I sit at my computer typing a recurring thought pops into my mind: How does one write about happiness when they aren’t feeling it?
I am a woman with strong emotions. I feel deeply, laugh loudly, love quickly, and I always cry during sad movies. For a long time, I tried to fight these emotions. I thought crying was a sign of weakness. I thought showing my emotions as strongly as I felt them would leave me vulnerable and small. I thought expressing feelings of anger and frustration would make me an unpleasant person.
Roman and Uliana Lushch, bloggers on individual happiness, compare emotions to a pendulum – one side of the pendulum being a positive emotion and the other being a negative emotion.
Everything that triggers an emotion has both a positive and negative feeling attached to it, Roman and Uliana explained. For example, reaching the end of a workweek usually places people on the positive side of the pendulum, experiencing happiness and excitement. When Monday hits, the pendulum swings to the negative side when feelings of dread and sadness arise.
Roman and Uliana wrote, “It’s natural to want the pendulum to loom closer to the positive side. But is it truly possible to make the pendulum freeze in place and feel pleasure and joy forever? The answer: obviously, it is not. Even if we want our pendulum to just stay within our comfort zone, we cannot. Why? For one simple reason: the existence of an unavoidable and inexorable force called circumstance.”
As I have grown up, moved out and gone through college, I have been forced to accept the fact that life isn’t going to be perfect. School is difficult, money doesn’t grow on trees, and my hair isn’t always going to have that perfect curl. While I would consider myself a happy person, I have realized that it is unrealistic to assume that everyone is going to be happy every day. Life isn’t always going to be full of rainbows and sunshine. Cloudy days are bound to occur. In fact, they are necessary.
In order to fully appreciate happiness and positive feelings we have to experience emotions on the opposite side of the pendulum. Understanding this has led me to appreciate the full spectrum of my emotions.
I no longer think showing my emotions as strongly as I feel them leaves me vulnerable and small. I have realized that my emotions have value and meaning. I am not afraid to express my feelings.
Negative emotions are going to happen. It is inevitable. It is a natural part of life that affects everyone, but it doesn’t have to affect you. Happiness is a choice; however, frustration, sadness and anger are choices as well. It is important to recognize that everything we feel has value and purpose. Sometimes we have to embrace the emotions as they come.
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