Self, Sex

Happy: Don't Be It! Do It!

Many of us probably still remember the most popular kid in school. More than likely, this was the kid that everyone wanted to be around. Maybe they were the most outgoing, best looking, smartest or most talented. Perhaps they were a combination of all these things.

Year after year, their picture is in the school yearbook, with the caption underneath: "Voted Most Popular." Maybe you were that kid.

Most of us also remember the other kid. The one who did not have many friends. Maybe not a complete loner, but more introverted. For whatever reasons, most tried to avoid this kid. This kid may have been the topic of gossip or maybe hardly noticed at all. This kid may even have been a sibling of the popular kid.

One thing for sure. This kid likely did not seem to have it as easy as the popular kid, but for some reason (if you think back) seemed to persevere more and be more resilient. Perhaps you were this kid.

Nietzsche said, "Happiness and unhappiness are twins that grow up together." Everybody wants to be happy. Everywhere you turn, there is something or someone emphasizing the importance of being happy – television commercials, songs (Pharrell's "Happy" spent ten consecutive weeks at number one). And let's not forget about those inspirational postings encouraging happiness that fill our social media time lines.

Why wouldn't someone want to feel happy? After all, for most, feeling happy means experiencing pleasure and we all enjoy being pleasured. We want to feel the essence of being in the vicinity of the popular kid. But do we have it wrong?

Do we want to be "happy" or do we want to be pleasured? We not only want to be happy, but we want to stay happy.

What we often times forget is that happiness, especially when rooted only in pleasure, is temporary. Eventually, we are faced with its sibling, the unpopular kid, and what that kid represents to all of us: life challenges and all the emotions that come with it — sadness, disappointment, misery, pain, anxiety, hate, fear, grief, stress, hopelessness, guilt, etc.

What we fail to realize is that, both the popular kid and unpopular kid are part of our lives and in order to appreciate one, we must honor and appreciate the other.

Happiness is relevant. Though it means different things to different people. Typically, when people say they want to be happy, they are saying they want a better life. After all, isn't that why most people come to counseling? They want to live better mentally and emotionally and in some instances physically, spiritually and financially. But one cannot live better on pleasure alone or challenges alone. It takes doing both. It takes living well.

What does it mean to live well?

When one seeks to live well, they go beyond happy to create reason and purpose for their lives. In doing so, they discover their value and self-worth. Their life becomes justified and they live with efficacy.

Christopher Gardner's The Pursuit of Happyness is a perfect example. At almost 30, he was a single father, living homeless and working in a training program that offered no salary. Most of us can probably agree that this does not sound like a "happy" life.

Needless to say, he was not the most popular kid, but the kid who persevered. He was resilient. He was the kid in school we would have avoided but likely learned from the most. Though he experienced pleasurable moments, he experienced many more challenges during this time in his life. Nevertheless, both his challenges and pleasurable moments were justified based on the purpose he identified for his life.

You see, when one seeks to live well, they become conscious of happiness as more than a feeling, but as a way of life. Rather than "be" happy, they consciously "do" happy. In other words, they engage in the world as it is, taking life as it comes.

So let's not just be happy. Let's consciously do happy. Live well. Think about your life's purpose. What are you called to do in the world? You may have to discover it. You may even have to create it. But it will lead you beyond happy to authenticity, integrity, love, honor, truth, beauty, loyalty, courage and freedom. You're worthy! You're worth it!