You Can’t Make Me Happy

It was a shit day. Friends and Family were drenched in saga. It was stressful. We want to be there for our loved ones but at the same time, we want to be there for ourselves too and when we’re not, it’s exhausting.

Why can’t people just be happy? My husband said to me.

You think it’s that easy? WTF?

I took his statement personally even though he wasn’t referencing me, and I knew that. It didn’t matter though. It took a millisecond and I jumped on the defense.

I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. You think I just don’t want to be happy? I do everything within my power to feel good about everything, all the time and I often fail but those failures are not due to my lack of effort. What does happiness even mean, really? Are you happy all the time?

I’m content.

I scoffed. Content and happy are not the same.

They’re not. Content means indifference, submission, settling, lack of desire, fear of change. Happy means to feel fucking joyful, wake up and embrace the day, to be interested in things. Happiness is deep shit.

I suffer from depression. I endure vivid and physically painful sadness. I refer to this as the Motherfucking Sad. At times I’m a hostage. I cave and settle into the sensation of misery, but that’s only a small portion of time. In pie chart terms roughly 10% is black. The other 90% is red. The color red signifies the effort I make to maintain myself during bouts of depression, the passion which fuels my desire to keep going and perhaps even fleeting moments when I feel happy.

I thought about our conversation and it led me to focus beyond depression as if it didn’t exist. Then I asked myself, what would happiness look like for me?

I would have the things I want. Not materialistic things but the ability to make my own decisions. Happiness would be living off the grid, sleeping for more than a few hours at a time, not to be negatively effected by the actions of others.

I know, I know. I allow them to effect me negatively. That’s the modern day, voodoo potion of meditative, awareness crap, right? Similar to my husband’s, Why can’t people just be happy?

It’s been said, therefore it is?

No.

Here’s an example: My teenage son’s bedroom looks like it was shoved into a blender, spun over 1000 times until all its contents were disheveled and then violently spit out via cyclone all over the room.

I don’t feel happy, and here’s why: When I walk into his room I think of decades of hard work until my husband and I could outright purchase the house without a mortgage. The same house- hold on, wait. Wrong choice of words. The same investment that will one day be my son’s and he has his stuff thrown all about, and garbage and dirty dishes piling up.

How does that only effect me if I allow it to? Do I just ignore, “or learn to accept” that his room looks like it was vomited all over OZ?

No.

Clean your room. It’s a basic life skill.

Another example would be the hatred and violence taking place in the world. The only thing I have control over is how I react. I know this too, so spare me the lecture. I know, I could just be happy but I’m not. I’m fucking traumatized. How does this statement sound? There was another mass shooting where hundreds of people were killed. Clearly it’s my attitude towards it that’s the problem.

Another, I voted. Trump was still elected president.

The absolute same goes for myself. I potentially negatively effect others based off the things I want. I mean, my son could feel robbed of the experience of being a typical teenage slob and shrugging responsibility.

As impossible as it is to fathom, there are people who want Trump to be president.

An interesting take on happiness is when people say, This makes me happy or, You make me happy. Am I to be made happy or feel happy? I think happiness is a feeling. Oh, and making someone else happy is too much pressure. Like, I’m over here trying to keep my own shit together but hey, there will be times when we feel happy about things together.

I do feel happiness. The sun shining, watercolors, settling in with a good book, sharing my life with eight cats, pizza. These things don’t make me happy. I feel happy about them. I know this because I know several people who do not feel happy about cats so cats don’t make people happy.

People are incapable of just being happy as if it’s a state of being, because it’s not. It’s an emotion.

Being content or even satisfied isn’t happiness. Not to mention that content + satisfied = ignorant.

Then there’s listicles, Do These Ten Things to Increase Your Happiness. Really? Well, shit. Why am I taking medication every day and going to counseling or being swallowed whole by a life sucking depression when all I had to do were those ten fucking things?

Perhaps I’m being critical. Maybe I’m being too literal. It’s also possible I’m being a realist. The reality is that happiness is an emotion, and even during bouts of depression I feel happiness. I have no scientific data to back this statement. You’re going to have to trust I speak the truth from personal experience. The fact of the matter is, regardless of how much happiness you may feel, some days are going to be shit.

That’s life.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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