Monday, May 12, 2014

A week of rants

Last week was all about cuteness and this week, I'm getting a little ranty. Sometimes, I bookmark blog posts because they've said or done something that just rubbed me the wrong way and got me all worked up. This week, I'm laying it all down. I'm giving you a warning so that you can avoid my blog this week if you're not interested in my "negative" opinions. Speaking of negativity, I'm starting the week with a bit of a rant about why I'm tired of all this positivity crap!

Several days ago, one of my fave bloggers, featured in my sidebar, wrote about turning negativity into positivity. Basically, she had a special day planned and it literally rained on her parade. Her post is all about maintaining a positive attitude when dealing with obstacles. For some reason, this really pissed me off. I was smart and refrained from getting too snarky on Twitter and whatnot, but I saved the post and kept it as an open tab for several days sort of letting my anger stew. The thing is, this particular blogger is actually a really cool person. We met when I was in Orlando for my marathon and had a really great time. I met her through another blogger whom I also love. Because there is a bond of friendship, I didn't let my initial reaction carry me away into starting a fight online. I just kept my thoughts to myself out of respect for our friendship. But I was really mad about that post for several days and I couldn't exactly figure out why.

Last night, I called a friend on the West Coast to talk about my recent struggles with my job situation. It's not good right now. I'm not a fan of my manager's decisions (management just changed) and the culture he's creating is starting to feel like somewhere I don't want to be. As I talked to my friend, he expressed that he worries about me. He's not the first friend to express this, but it's a really unhelpful sentiment. I know that going from job to job every few months is not exactly a recipe for a stable life, and I don't need anyone else to worry about that for me. As we talked, he also let me know that he feels like I'm never happy. Like my life is not a happy one. And honestly, that was really, really not helpful and set me off for a night of tears. (Luckily, the boy was up and texted with me for an hour about life and happiness and positivity and negativity.)

The thing about the blog post is that it came at the end of several weeks of blog posts going on and on about positivity and eschewing the negative. I was not so mad at my blogging friend as much as I was mad about the general tone of many lifestyle bloggers, which is that being negative is bad and positivity is the only solution and we should all be striving for happiness. Here's my problem with that and with my friend's thoughts on my life : happiness is a mood. Happiness is not a state of being. Happiness, like sadness, like anger, is a mood, and all of them are great. As I read around the internet, all these young women, going on and on about being positive, I feel like what I'm really reading is a lifestyle dead set on denying any emotion that is not viewed as positive. It's ok to be loving and generous and helpful and HAPPY but it's not ok to be sad or mad or selfish or greedy or depressed or dissatisfied. And the thing is, ignoring all negativity, often looks like denial.

My blogging friend is not denying her emotions and creating an impossible standard for her life. She is a positive person who strives to improve her life, and that is one of my favorite qualities about her. My anger at her blog post was misplaced.

I defended myself to my friend explaining that I'm not HAPPY. I would never describe myself as such. But I'm also not unhappy (which is the worst thing a person can be, right?). As of right now, I'm extremely dissatisfied with my life. I don't feel that it's stable. I don't feel like it's where I want it to be. I'm having a hard time seeing a good future. Some of what's happening in my life is out of control, and there is nothing to be done but getting through it. Some of what's happening in my life is in my control, and I can choose to change it. Some of what's happening in my life might be improved if I had a better attitude.

OK, but the thing is, I'm not DENYING anything. I'm not trying to tell myself to stop feeling what I'm feeling. I'm not trying to force some fake outcome from a situation. I'm just being me, going through what's happening, and feeling what I feel as it comes. That is reality to me. And that's why I just can't waste my time reading lifestyle blogs from young women who have deluded themselves into thinking that happiness is some sort of permanent state of being that's attained when you deny yourself all other emotions. Because honestly, fuck that!


  1. I wrote about this in my e-book, but I believe that it's quite possible to be happy at the same as any other emotion. For example, I'm happy that I have a new laptop; I'm not happy that I had to unexpectedly spend the money on it. I think that a lot of people are searching for a constant state of happiness, but even if you're overall happy with your life, you're still going to face hardships and experience other emotions at the same time, which is totally okay and human. Happiness and unhappiness are not black and white, and our emotions cannot be locked in individual boxes. I'm an emotional person and there are many days when I feel many things at the same time. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with either of you really, just giving my two cents.

  2. I agree that happiness is a mood. I have been really down, regretful and guilty at times because I was not happy, but some days I am very happy because of an activity or someone's good company. Other times I am not particularly happy but am not unhappy. I think emotions can override moods. Like if you're angry, it tends to override happiness.

  3. Okay, I'm going to go ahead and say that I can see how this post might be misconstrued. Also, the timing couldn't be more ironic as I have a post scheduled for tomorrow about my life being about the pursuit of happiness. (And I accidentally erased my first comment, which was more well-thought out and concise.)

    I think that you can still be happy, but experience sadness, fear, anxiety, and moodiness. Everyone goes through some trauma and b.s. in their lives, but it is our attitudes and perception of what we go through that determines whether or not we are happy. Yup, it's okay to feel sadness or pain. It's part of a healing process and part of being human. I do think that most of us go through life looking for happiness because we are "wired" to seek pleasure, minimize pain, and ultimately be happy, content, fulfilled, satisfied, or whatever you want to call it. I'm not certain that anyone goes through life asking themselves: what can I do to not be happy?, or how am I going to make myself miserable today? I think people can certainly choose to be unhappy, but I don't think that's their goal in life. Since we seek to progress, increase our knowledge, develop intimacy/sense of intimacy/physical contact, at the least, find pleasure in the arts, music, or whatever it is that we find enjoyment in, I believe that all these things ultimately are peoples' unique/individual goals which ultimately bring them pleasure/happiness/enjoyment- again, whatever it is you want to call it.

    And, yes, it's completely okay if you don't agree with me on the fact that, ultimately, human existence is based on finding happiness or some form of it, at least. Naturally, I don't seek pain or sadness. Yup, I've been sad. Yup, I've chosen to embrace my sadness and pain- in private, that is. But that's just me, and so I think that's where people find me to be a positive energetic person, because I particularly don't like to be around people when I'm sad or in a bad mood. It's part of my introverted personality type- definitely. The way I might present my sadness outwardly, when I am sad, is through my writing, poetry, or talking about it with a close friend. In reality, I allow myself to heal in private, because I do enjoy some solitude, and then what most people see after that is a generally positive person. Am I a happy person now? Yes. Was this always the case? No. Have I been happy about some things in my life, but unhappy about other things at the same time? Definitely.

    In my opinion (duh, who else's opinion would it be?), people have private lives that they can very certainly keep private, so we don't see everything; I don't think that they intend to deceive, misrepresent their lives, or stifle feelings or emotions; I just think that they keep the negative things to themselves a lot of the times. Humans are very "social beings", and being negative and unpleasant is probably not a very desirable trait to display. Again, I think we all feel negative and think unpleasant things at times, but we choose not to show it (1) because it's not socially acceptable for most of us; (2) because we are taught that "if we can't say nice things, don't say them at all" (ties into being socially congruent); and (3) because we don't want to be mean or bring negativity into the world (which again sort of ties into following social norms).

    Ironically, the field of psychology is based on "healing" people and treating disorders like prolonged depression- all with the purpose of helping individuals lead "happy, fulfilling lives". The profession doesn't seek to enrich peoples' lives through sadness and pain. It seeks to heal pain and improve lives. Which is probably why I am so passionate about it. Anyhow, I'm off on a tangent and this turned out to be really long.

    -Jess L

  4. Just to give you more insight into how humans naturally seek happiness or are socially encouraged to 'be happy', this is my last discussion assignment for my integrative psychology class towards my psych degree:
    "With all of the knowledge we have about human psychology it seems odd that we have still not solved the very basic riddle of human happiness. What makes you happy and how can you use your understanding of human psychology to find happiness. Should this be a goal of life?" <--Hah! Should this be a goal in life? Like I said, I think human beings inherently seek happiness/pleasure.

    -Jess L