For the many years of my 30 years of life, I imagined there would be that one emotion to aim for during and at the end of the day. That would be the emotion that many of us describe as happiness. I’d basically become a fan of this particular emotion and I loved reading happiness quotes as well. There are of course other emotions too, but emotion “happinness” received long my greatest attention. Happiness brought me joy, but happiness also brought me sadness as I learned that I didn’t give my other emotions enough attention up to the point that I felt they are neither much useful or something to acknowledge much. Sometimes I was even annoyed or felt bad for having them. Bascially I felt that feeling annoyed (as an emotion) was annoying. Of course it is not.
Why does this matter? Because, whenevever often I didn’t put on a happy face (of course not always, because that would be exhausting for my facial muscles), I was worried something was wrong with me up to the point of feeling bad for not being happy. And I think social media kind of strenghtens that. There aren’t much profile picture (FB, IG,Twitter, TikTok,..), where people use angry or sad profile pictures. Most often people use one picture, which often has one emotion. It does so only, because it is super difficult to merge multiple emotions into one facial expression. I just tried and I failed. I know you’ll try out too now.
Now, I do not know peoples emotions based on their pictures, but many profile pictures show smiles. And I would associate smiling to something that illustrates happiness. For instance, when someone makes a joke or I am actually happy, I smile and laugh. Of course noone always smiles, but when we talk to each other, we tend to smile as well to emphasize with each other. Why can we not smile? Is that something bad? I ask this question, because sometimes I feel like relaxing and not smiling and I had people questioning me why I wasn’t smiling and whether that meant I was not happy, if I was sad and if something happenend? I said ” No , everything is okay” , but likewise began smiling (very lightly ) and it was then okay and accepted.
There are of course times, where I didn’t feel so happy and felt happy when I got to talk about my worries. However, most conversations ultimately embodied language like ” don’t worry, don’t be sad, be happy , don’t focus on the negative. ” Over time this began building up and I felt that feeling something else other than being happy wasn’t much validated, either by myself and likewise by others and for themselves. But it’s not true. Every emotion is valid and so important to experience and live.
Being and feeling is what makes us humans. It’s every emotion that we are entitled to feel and there is no wrong emotion. It’s okay to feel angry and its okay feel sad and its okay feel excited and its likewise okay to feel happy. Emotions are like the light spectrum. Only together they make life on earth possible. If we’d only let blue light waves enter the atmosphere, well we would not exist very well. Or we could think about a rainbow and its colors. If we’d only want it in our favorite color, well a rainbow would be quite colorless. And the same can be accounted for our emotions.
Why does this matter ? Sigmund Freud described it nicely ” unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways. ” Ultimately, unexpressing our emotions leads us to not being happy with ourselves but also our environment.
Then how can we be really happy ? Theres no definition on happiness and I do agree that happinnes comes from within. But it doesn’t come from putting a smile on your face or telling yourself to be happy, when you are not. It comes, when you are attuned with your feelings and when you can express them to yourself and others. Of course, there are different ways of expressing them and saying” Hey, I am angry at you” and then throwing a punsh into someones face or quitting work straight away is less ideal. But emotions help you understand what you need to feel better ” I am angry, because you came 15 minutes late without notifying me. Actually, I think I was worried about you. Could you call me the next time please? You are important to me. ” Understanding and expressing yourself also helps other people understanding you and gives each of you the opportunity to help and fullfill a need.
What does happiness have to do with sustainability ? Often we are less likely attuned with ourselves / our feelings, what we need and what actually makes us happy. Because of that we buy things or compensate suppressed feelings with behaviours that are ultimately not beneficial like overconsumption. Being more attunned with ourselves and our environment leads us to less likely engage in unsustainable behaviour. -> We thrive and so can our planet. #SDG3