I just want to feel happy...
It’s common for people to want to feel particular ways. Happy, calm, peaceful, who would not want to feel good? In reality, all feelings ebb and flow, come and go, and it is not realistic to want to have one feeling all the time, or even predominantly. So why do we get so hung up on wanting to feel a certain way?
There is a social expectation perhaps that we should feel ‘positive’ emotions, that we should feel ‘good.’ Social media has perhaps exacerbated this problem, but it is not new. We used to call it ‘keeping up with the Jones’s, the thought that we needed to make a good impression, to keep up with other people for wealth, happiness and good fortune.
Feelings are messages. They are important information about what is going on outside ourselves, and how we feel about it. They can let us know when we have been badly treated, when we have hurt someone, when we are doing things that don’t really fit with what we want or who we are. Feelings matter.
With all feelings, it’s important to know that they only cause a problem when we identify with them, and hold them as 'I am...' I am not ‘happy,’ happy is a feeling that passes through me, just like any feeling does. Ever had a chat with a friend who has an intense feeling and come away feeling it yourself? Are you then that feeling? Were they? Or is it just energy passing through?
Instead of identifying the feeling as ‘you’ in the form of an ‘I am…’ how does it feel to instead acknowledge there is shame present, or guilt present, or happiness present? If you can sense feelings as energy passing through you that touches you but is not 'you' per se, then the feeling can deliver its message and keep flowing, leaving you more open to whatever it is that comes next.
It is my perception that peace, happiness and a sense of being free don't come from the absence or presence of any feeling, they come when we can allow whatever feelings and thoughts there are to be there, and stay connected and grounded anyway. This and/both, experiencing what is passing through, and being mindful of ourselves as more than this, can offer a deep contentment that all is well, regardless of the pain and heat of any particular moment.
Feelings are energy waves that ebb and flow. They keep moving, they pass through, another is along, and they do have a sort of rhythm to them. Other metaphors that come to mind are wondering how it might be to experience yourself as the sky, and your feelings and thoughts as passing weather? Or how it might be to imagine you are outside in a deluge of rain, and to notice if you stand still in it it runs down you and passes on to the ground, where it is absorbed and sinks in. What is it like to imagine flow, with feelings arising and falling away, as if they are going through you? How might you be porous rather than solid, and not identify with the feeling as 'yours' so much as something passing through you?
If you’re experiencing intense, or repeated feelings at the moment, listen out for what they are pointing to. What message are you missing that they keep showing up to illuminate. If you can hear this message, you can set yourself free to feelings flowing, and enjoy the expansive sense that comes from feeling your own continuity as a being, even as feelings and thoughts morph and change.