Enough with the constant need to be happy

Therapist confession:

When I have a client walk into my office and say their goal is to be “happy”… I have no intention to help them be “happy”.

I know, the horror… I am a horrible person. But wait, let me explain.

What is happy anyways?

We are surrounded by a society that is selling us this concept of “happy”… buy this dress, order this supplement, join this yoga studio, sell your home, downsize, upsize, upgrade… you name it. There is always something to do and the reward that is always promised is


Maybe you make changes in your life and you really do feel better, the sun is shining, you have money in your bank account, you like your job, and are confident in your body. Happy! You found the magic formula for happy! Congrats!

But that formula never lasts long. Maybe you get injured and can’t go to the gym, a family member dies unexpectedly, you break up with your significant other. In flash you are back where you started. Why? because life happens.

The problem is…

Life is constantly moving past us while we are trying to chase a singular moment of happiness.

So here is my alternative to “happy”…

Let’s change our perspective on what “happy” really means. Does it mean life is perfect? That is where I struggle with the word happy, I can’t help someone make their life perfect because perfect doesn’t exist.

Take the pressure off of yourself, you cannot keep up. It’s impossible.

Just live your life. Today, right now, the way it is.

Embrace the ebbs and flows.  The highs, the lows. The good days and the bad days.

What makes music beautiful is the range of notes. If you are constantly hitting the “happy” note. That’s going to be a boring song. just saying.

Here is another analogy for you…

I live in Kansas. I don’t see the beach often, but when I do get to see the beach. It overwhelms me with this feeling of joy and peace. Am I going to move to the beach? Ehh, not anytime soon.  I probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much anyways, but I am going to absorb every last wave of joy when I am there.

And when I am not there… I am going to enjoy the rolling hills of Kansas.

If you aren’t picking up on my super unoriginal beach analogy… the moral of the story is to embrace each season. Don’t fight the ups and downs of life. Sometimes you find the most beautiful moments in the “sad”. You find your strength in the “sad”.

“Sadness” teaches us empathy and empathy helps us love one another.

If you never experience the range of emotions in life, you won’t really understand how beautiful the happy times are.

So no, I my goal as a therapist isn’t to make you happy… it’s more then that, it’s to give you perspective and skills to navigate your way through a full and dynamic life.

Depression can be a complex and serious topic.  If you feel as though you can’t experience the ebbs and flows of life and are constantly living in the place of “sadness”, reach out to a mental health professional near you to help you through this challenging time. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please call.. 1-800-273-8255 for support.

  1. Kelsi Grove says:

    LOVE this. I’m learning everyday to “sit” in whatever I’m feeling (lots of sad/stress of late) and then move on. It’s helped me process the “lower” ebbs and made me more fully appreciate the higher ones! Great post 🙂

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