“Choose to be happy.”
But sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we experience something that shakes our world or we can’t balance the chemicals in our brain that help us feel happy. Sometimes statements like the one above can make us feel alone in the darkness we’re navigating. If it’s so easy to be happy, what’s wrong with me?
After walking by the KU Hangar and the RecPlex last week and being attacked by Post-Its reading “Smile” and “Choose to be happy” and “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN HAPPINESS,” I looked at the other people walking by, the ones who could have also been under attack by these messages. What if we are trying to love our bodies – our selves – but don’t have the support we need to do it?
No, trudging through our dark spots as self-pitying martyrs won’t help anyone, but splitting humans into a happy/sad either/or only pushes more people into the dark. Yes, positive thinking has considerable powers for your health and your mind, but we need to make sure we’re investing the energy and consideration into those positive messages for them to retain even half of their potential power. We need to make sure we’re thinking about how the message will affect us and everyone around us.
When the world hasn’t been alright to you or it feels like nothing in the world is alright, sometimes a “be happy” or a “just smile” can just hurt. Even with a parent telling you “looks don’t matter” or a friend reminding you “you’re beautiful,” it sometimes only makes us happy for a moment, if at all – and that’s alright. We can’t be happy day in and day out, or we wouldn’t ever be.