Monday, February 8, 2010

Why is it so hard to be happy?

Sometimes I feel like I have to put a lot of work into being happy, and I don't think I'm alone in this. I think we have all experienced a time when it's just easier to wallow in sadness and complain rather than change the circumstances that are bothering us. Staying with a bad job, for example, is easier than searching for a new one. Putting up with a friend's annoying behavior is easier than confronting them and asking them to stop.

In an article titled Why Happiness Is Such a Struggle, author David blames this struggle on some hardwired instincts that have been passed down it us through our ancestors. But, he adds, there is hope: We also posses the abilities to re-wire our minds and teach ourselves to be happy.

David is not alone in this thinking. This article on recognizes Eckhart Tolle's idea that we sometimes hold on to our problems because they make us feel like we have an identity. This attachment to sadness can be combated by "letting go" and allowing ourselves to feel peace.

My therapist told me that people have a tendency to recreate painful situations in their lives in order to help themselves work through feelings they haven't yet conquered. In other words, we create pain in an effort to try to work through pain. Though I'm not sure I completely agree with this idea, I can see how I might have done something like this in my own life. I can see how I've become comfortable in my own sadness.

I too, however, believe that I have the ability to change my patterns of thought and change my actions to focus on peace and contentment rather than pain. Over the past few months, especially, I've been making a conscious effort to rethink the things in my life that are painful and stressful.

I am choosing to be happy even when my body is telling me that I should be sad, and I am exhausted.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't think I'm alone in the belief that it takes work to be happy. Happiness can't be found in a 40 point list of ideas or a daily choice. It's like lifting weights to build muscles; it takes time and effort and struggle and repitition, and it is easy to give up and stay with the status quo.

I've wanted to give up so many times! I've relapsed into self-pity more times than a life-long alcoholic trying to sober up. But everytime I make the choice again to change my mind and be happy, I notice that it becomes easier than the last time.


  1. Hi Emily,

    I saw you on the "Kind over matter" blog and I came here to your blog. Congrats on the win!

    I really like what you wrote on this post. I have been thinking this past week, "why is it so hard for me to be happy?, "it's just easier to give up". I am supposed to be happy. I find myself looking for recognition anywhere, only to find I am invisible. I will re-read your post and check out your link(s). thank you for the information. I am glad that I am not alone. thanks for letting me ramble.

  2. Well hello! And thank you! You are my first non-family member or friend who has commented on here- how exciting! I'm glad you could relate to this post.