“Choose happy.” That’s what many say, demand, request...
As if people can lay out every human emotion in front of them and place them in a cup. And then, for every life event, simply select the “happy” cup and drink it. And then with each sip, the death, sexual abuse, riots, racism, loss, and the grief that accompanies such events can be somehow “happ-ied” away.
Life does not, nor is it meant, to work that way.
Emotions are informative—they allow for expression and communication. Emotions can guide us to our truth—the one that lies within each of us.
Emotions that are expressed in a healthy way are akin to a beautiful light and an expression of one’s soul, no matter how “dark” or “ugly” or “unacceptable” we might have been taught the emotions are that fall outside of the boundaries of “happy.”
Emotions can also co-exist. I can feel the love and joy I experience each time I look into my loving pooch’s eyes, while also feeling the grief and sadness that accompany my experience of sexual abuse as a child and the livelihood frequently lost as a result of it. The latter experience comes with valid heartache, grief, pain, and unearned suffering. And under such circumstances, no one should expect me to “choose” happy. Nor is it possible to “choose happy” in the midst of a depressive episode, a panic attack, being subject to racism, or during the moments or timeframes of loss that take our breath away.
It requires courage to allow the full range of emotions to surface, including the anger, sadness, and fear—for it is through them that the light on the other side exists. Providing space for and allowing emotions to be expressed in the moments they are experienced can help to alleviate and deflate explosion of emotions down the road—for the individual, for the group, for the community, for society, for the world.
Be kind. Be well. Be gentle.
With love and gratitude,