ARTICLE: If you’re so “Deep” why ain’t you Happy?


So often it seems that our picture of what being a deep person is (or an intelligent person or a caring person or a spiritual person or an artistic person) are connected with visions of unhappiness. We somehow think that we “have” to be unhappy (or at least mainly unhappy) to be all those things. I have come to believe that just the opposite is generally true.

“If I’m not unhappy in the face of suffering that means I don’t care”. How many of us turn away and do nothing in the face of suffering because we can’t handle our own bad feelings in reaction to it. The very same bad feelings that we believe me must feel because we care. Mother Teresa cared about the suffering of the world very deeply, but she did something about it, she was able to be “happy” in the face of it dying children whereas so many of us would turn away.

“I have to be unhappy because I’m smart.” The truth is there are intelligent happy people and intelligent unhappy people (with most of us somewhere in the middle). Why not use our brains to generate thoughts that make us happier, more empowered in the world. Isn’t that the “smartest” way to go?

“I’m an artist, artists are unhappy.” Some are some aren’t. Artists have mastered the art of being “happy” in face of a blank page or in front of a crowd of people (whereas non-artists are oftentimes terrified of these things, public embarrassment being the 2nd worst fear of most people). Many artists who perform the unhappiest material are oftentimes teaching others that other people have felt the same way, and sharing unhappiness and the universality of it is one of the most effective ways of becoming happy. This becomes more negative though if it leads to a one sided focus on the unhappy side of life. Also, Artists often project a part of ourselves that we want to be but are afraid to (the rebel, the sensitive person, the troublemaker, the fun-lover, the whatever) oftentimes because that’s the side they have developed and want to express it. However the fuller we develop ourselves as people the more potential avenues we have to be artists.

“I have to be unhappy because I’m spiritual/religious”. Religion can have similar positive impact as an artist in teaching that it’s okay to be “happy” about “unhappiness” (IE suffering) because people feel connected to each others suffering through their beliefs and religious leaders. This can be positive because we all hate to be alone and unhappy ABOUT whatever unhappiness we are going through (unhappiness about being unhappy brings depression). Churches and spiritual gatherings provide a place to share our unhappiness (and thus lesson it) and indeed even to share our happiness. At the extreme end of things are beliefs in a life after death, which help relieve the worst fear of most people, the fear of death. This can be positive in this world in that way, but can be negative when people believe that happiness is found in the next life at the expense of this life.

Happiness shared is happiness multiplied, pain shared is pain divided.

So try some happiness here and now. Or not.

Try this out: