Why Wanting To Be Happy All The Time Actually Makes You Sad

Photo: Svitlana Sokolova / Shutterstock
smiling woman

For most of my life I've been considered a pretty happy person.

Teachers commented on my positive energy, friends speculated that I could never be sad, and bullies told me to "stop being so f***ing peppy."

While I never disagreed that my attitude was more optimistic than the norm, I hated the pressure of feeling like I had to be happy all the time.

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Friends and family called me "a light," and would often tell me how much of a difference my good mood could have.

At my retail job in high school I was constantly brought up front to talk to the angry customers because my boss felt like if anybody could make them happy, it was me.

Having people see you as a positive person is awesome, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

But there's an unspoken pressure there — mainly created by myself — that I'm not allowed to be in a bad mood.

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I felt that way for a really long time, and as a result I was constantly hiding my emotions for a fear that no one would like me if I wasn't happy.

It felt like I would disappoint everyone if I couldn't cheer them up or bring up the mood with my positive attitude.

Thankfully, my days of people-pleasing are mostly behind me, but I feel like the pressure of happiness is still something everyone struggles with daily.

We have vision boards and goal lists and dream bodies.

We read self-help books about "creating the life you want" and articles like "10 Ways To Be Truly Happy So You Can Stop Being Such A Miserable Cow."

We're mapping out our futures while completely ignoring our present. All in the name of happiness.

Well the girl who was once dubbed "an annoying ray of sunshine" is here to deliver some good news: you don't have to be happy.

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Seriously, the neverending search for happiness is something that could drive you mad.

You don't need to look for it and you also don't need it.

Despite what the internet has to tell you, happiness isn't something you can create. You don't pull it from a recipe book or follow a six-week program.

A lot of people (present company included) put their goals and dreams on hold in an effort to be happy first and live later.

But happiness isn't a destination. There's no roadmap or welcome center with spotless bathrooms.

Happiness is a feeling. And like all feelings, it's temporary.

And when you do reach it, don't worry about letting it go. Nothing lasts forever and you'll only drain yourself trying to keep it.

So stop trying to be happy, and just live.

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Emily Blackwood is a writer who covers pop culture, true crime, dating, relationships, and everything in between. Follow her on Twitter.

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