On why we shouldn’t “be happy”

I recently came across a mental health campaign where the logo was a colourful, smiley face and the words ‘joyful’ and ‘happy’ plastered everywhere on the website. It was screaming, be happy!!

And it bothered me. Immensely.

Why do we equate mental wellbeing with happiness?

We have enough messages from every marketing campaign that we should be happy, that we could be happy if only we did this, bought that, or became more this. We are already running around chasing this notion of happiness, only to be faced with more guilt and more emptiness.

Wellbeing is not about being happy.

Instead, we could do with being reminded that feelings come and go, and that emotions are normal. That it’s okay to feel crappy. That life is messy. That we don’t have to be constantly happy or grateful (yes, I think we should stop hashtagging #blessed, since we’re on the topic).

There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ feeling. Sure, many feelings are shitty and we don’t like them, but they’re important. I think we should make #importantshitfeelings a thing.

We try to push away every uncomfortable feeling of hurt, sadness, embarrassment, jealousy. We tell ourselves that we should not be feeling those things because we are supposed to be grateful and happy.

But the thing is, we are not the glamourised Instagram photos we wished our lives were. Life isn’t a perfect grid filled with pastel-coloured donuts and unicorn-inspired hair with a side of sunshine.

We are real human beings. And things get messy, things get shitty, things get real.

So how about a wellbeing campaign that doesn’t promote happiness, but realness? That it’s okay not to be happy, and that we don’t need to feel guilty.

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