Why it feels easier to be unhappy and what to do about it
by Cindy Myska, therapist and DailyHap.com co-founder
The most perfect thing about being unhappy is the safety. Safe on the ground, no where from which to fall. No one to hurt you. Yes, “unhappy” hurts, but it is a known quantity, and it is something you can do perfectly. That is no small accomplishment, to do something so perfectly. No skinned knees, no broken hearts, no fall from grace.
Already perfectly there, you live in jeopardy, sometimes wishing for just a taste of happiness. What would it be like to be happy? What would it feel like? How different would life be with just a smidgen of happiness? People, books, and articles call out to you saying that happiness is real and possible. But you shy away, because in the Land of Safety, happiness looks like a treacherous trap.
Take a look at your safe knees, your safe heart, your safe reputation. Consider one by one if you really want the safety. See if you can dare to smile at the next person who walks by. See if you can dare to express gratitude to the person who often breaks your heart. See if you can risk that person not smiling back, or breaking your heart one more time. See if you can trust yourself to bandage some skinned knees like they were a badge of happiness.
In the Land of Safety, each person believes that his happiness, if he had it, would come from the outside, from something or someone else out there. And in the Land of Safety, each person also believe that the “someone or something” that could bring in happiness would also bring in the virus, the virus of hurt, pain and more unhappiness.
In the Land of Safety, it is difficult to muster up a questioning spirit, but you can do it! Question whether it is true that your happiness is dependent upon another person or thing. Question whether you need to protect yourself any more. Question whether you would rather live in the Land of the Present, or the Land of Safety. In the Land of the Present you are allowed to choose happiness even if it is only for a moment. In the Land of the Present you are allowed to smile at a skinned knee or cry if you would rather cry.
The Present is a powerful place to live and as such can be frightening, particularly to those who have never lived there. So if all you can do is go visit the Land of the Present from time to time, then go visit. And smile at yourself for daring to leave the Land of Safety. Even if you like visiting the Land of the Present, you will most likely go back to the Land of Safety for quite some time. Just smile as you go back.
The biggest question is whether the Land of Safety really keeps you safe; and the real question behind THAT is whether being Perfectly Unhappy is enough for you.
For me, being perfect at unhappiness is not enough, although the Land of Safety is really tempting sometimes, with its promises of security. I will go there sometimes thinking that I have wounds, and thinking that I need to nurse my wounds in safety. But it is not enough. I long to live more and more in the Land of the Present and only visit the Land of Safety now and then. I long to choose happiness in each present moment, as imperfect as it may be.