Feel bad or sad does not mean you are not happy
It goes without saying—but I'm going to mention it anyway —that your happiness, or lack thereof, depends largely on your expectations. If you believe that only one person, job, home, or car can bring you happiness, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Even if you fall in love with your childhood sweetheart, marry, and raise a healthy family, eventually one of you will depart, leaving the partner to grieve. Nothing in this world lasts forever. Loved ones, jobs, homes, cars, finances, and health can come and go. If you believe that living a happy life means that you will never go through loss, sorrow, disappointment, failure, or grieving, you are setting yourself up to be let down. Your beliefs about happiness need to be realistic. If you are addicted to a fantasy of perfection, any happiness you experience will be short-lived. To expect anyone's life to be flawless is utterly unrealistic.
This brings us to the next expectation: If you think happiness means that you never feel sadness, rage, or remorse, your beliefs about happiness are, shall we say, "reality-challenged." A sudden upheaval in your personal or professional life, extreme financial difficulties, continual family crises, divorce, surviving an accident, witnessing a crime, or catastrophe are likely to disturb even the sunniest disposition. It is not a failure to find that you don't feel like yourself, or that you can't shake a deep sense of sorrow after such an event. Even a seasoned first responder or combat veteran can become upset. Feeling disturbed by violence or sudden loss does not mean that you are not a happy person or that you will never be happy again. That type of statement is called a "cognitive distortion" because it leads you to an all-or-nothing, either/or, black-or-white outcome. Happy people are capable of being shaken up emotionally by tragedy. They are capable of mourning their losses and feeling the 10,000 sorrows and 10,000 joys life has to offer.
And so are you! Feeling sad or angry does not mean that you are a "victim of negative thinking" or that you are being punished...as long as you do not get "stuck" ruminating about hurtful events in the past. As a vibrant human being, you need to be open to a spectrum of emotions. That way, you can enjoy what has been nicknamed, tongue in cheek, "the full catastrophe of Life with a capital L."
Happiness consists in frequent repetition of pleasure.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
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