The One Thing It's More Important To Feel Than Happiness

Happiness is great, but it isn't everything.

happy woman smiling Ground Picture / Shutterstock

We all want to live happy, fulfilling lives, but figuring out how to get there can be tough. What does it even mean to be truly happy, and how do we become our happiest selves?

And while happiness is great, it shouldn’t be the only thing we aim for. Dr. Amanda Hanson, a psychologist, explains why focusing solely on happiness might not be the best approach and suggests one thing we can strive for to make our lives more meaningful.


“I don’t want to sit in rooms with just happy people,” says Hanson. “I wanna sit in rooms where people tell me the stories of how they overcame their heartbreak.”


The stories of people who rise after being knocked down, who own the darkest moments of their lives and turn them into something beautiful.

But let’s be honest, most people don’t want that for themselves, especially those with children. “I just want my children to be happy,” parents say to Hanson.

And on the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this. Yes, we want our children to lead happy and fulfilling lives, so what?

Hanson continues, “But toxic positivity bypassing real emotions, difficult emotions, is not the goal here.”

What's more important for your emotional well-being than happiness?

If you truly want to succeed in life or heal from emotional trauma, you need to learn how to feel. How to feel the sadness, the anger, the shame, the resentment.


You need to learn how to feel the regret. To understand what it’s like to say, “I wish I could’ve done things differently.” Yes, we need to sit down with our emotions and consider it all.

Hanson ends, “The end goal in this lifetime is not happiness. The end goal is to feel everything,”

But how do we permit ourselves to feel? It might sound silly, but many of us were raised to suppress our emotions, leaving us unsure of how to connect with them on a deeper level.


So, how do we get in touch with our emotional side? Therapist Kim Egel discusses how to tap into your emotions especially if you’re new to that kind of thing.

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How To Feel Your Full Range Of Emotions

1. Take a break

As we rush through life, jumping from one activity to another, we often forget to take a breather. And this constant busyness leaves us with little time to process or understand our true emotions.

Which is why we need to learn how to slow down. Egel writes, “In order to tap into how you’re feeling you need time to ‘sit with and process your emotions.’”


Create room and time to allow yourself to feel your emotions. When you return from work, take 20-30 minutes to walk.

During this time allow yourself the room to sit with your emotions. Start with your day and then go from there.

And always remember, experiencing emotions, both the good and the bad, is what makes us human.

2. Name the emotion

As you’re processing, try to put a name to what you’re feeling. This can be tricky if you’re not used to it, but give it a shot.

Start with understanding if it’s a positive or negative emotion, suggests Egel. Then, see if you can match your feelings to one of the basic emotions we’re familiar with, like anger, sadness, or happiness.


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3. Feel it physically

Ask yourself where you feel your emotions. Is it in your throat or eyes? Or is it in your chest or hands?

Be curious about those sensations and explore them, summarizes Egel. Ask yourself if the sensations you feel are pleasant or unpleasant.

Feel these sensations for a minute or two and allow yourself to sit in the uncomfortable.


this video is a love letter to everyone who feels very heavy sometimes but especially to all my fellow bpd babies :-) we’re just humans out here!!! feelin human emotions!!! havin human experiences!!!!!

♬ original sound - Sabrina Flores

4. Be compassionate

Always be kind to yourself, no matter what emotions you’re going through.


Egel writes, “If this is difficult for you to do, think about what you would say to your best friend If they were feeling your specific emotion.”

You might find yourself saying that you understand their struggle and that things will get better. You’ll reassure your friends that you’re there for them and that you support them.

And when we start talking to ourselves like we would to a friend or loved one, we slowly begin to treat ourselves with more kindness and respect. Which can help us appreciate and respect our emotions more.


Feeling your emotions isn’t a walk in the park; it can be pretty tough and uncomfortable. But by facing both the good and bad, you can start taking control of your emotions.

This can lead to a healthier relationship with yourself and those around you.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.