As Thanksgiving approaches, I always feel the need to write up a pretty sounding blogpost broadcasting to the world all that I am thankful for. One, because it is a time each year where I am reminded of how fortunate I am, and two, I have gotten in that routine. Holidays are always easy for me to write about. It is my favorite time of year and everyone is a little more giving. I would even say for a month or so, people even seem happier. But this post isn’t about happiness per se. But the opposite, actually. I am going to talk about being sad.
If anyone has read more than one of our blogposts, you know we try to be optimistic…all the time. I would have to say that 75 percent of the time, we really have trained our brains to think in that direction. We’ve seen the downward spiral of what negative thinking can do. But what happens when life happens? And it is hard to be positive. What happens when you wake up not only negative but numb?
When life (work, school, social life) becomes so busy, we sometimes press the internal autopilot button. We begin to go through our days numb of feeling. We do this and that and go here and there because we have to. The purpose for why we complete these tasks each day becomes blurred. The dangerous part about this “funk” many of us get into is that we lose the ability to feel. Something exciting happens…ok. Something frustrating happens…ok. You hit your work goals…great. You miss a deadline…great. Routine is good but routine can also hinder your ability to feel satisfaction. You are on cruise control and you begin to just coast. Has anyone else been there? And if so, can we all agree it isn’t fun at all. I have learned that my soul is not fueled when I coast through my day, week or month. I am not wired to be ok with just being ok.
Months ago, I was in this place. Instead of waking up with my usual excitement, I was sad. Sad about what, you may ask? No clue. It isn’t what someone said or did but rather the place my mind was in each day. That is what saddened me. I was starting to get concerned. Um…why am I not my happy self? I actually called Catherine frustrated that I couldn’t talk myself out of feeling bad for myself. I felt selfish. She said all the right things and tried her best to strike a chord with me so I would snap out of it. But remember, I was numb. I heard her words but didn’t feel the result.
After trying to convince myself of why it is wrong to feel the way I had been feeling, I gave up. I actually gave myself permission to be sad. Even to be a little anxious. I told myself to feel these feelings so I knew not only how to identify them but also how to quickly navigate through them. I knew at this point there was no way around them, so I decided to turn off the cruise control and speed right on through my negativity. One of my mentors once told me, it’s ok to be sad sometimes. If we were always happy, we would be in heaven. That thought came to my mind as I was driving one day, annoyed that I was flirting with discontent. And that is when it really hit me. In order to know what happiness feels like, we must know what it is like not to have it. How do you embrace a really good day if you’ve never had a bad one?
Not to state the obvious, but sometimes life isn’t fun. And no, it is not possible to always see the silver lining. I am the first one to say that you choose the way you see life, but I am coming to realize that sometimes you don’t choose to see it the right way. I am here to tell you that if you are sad…it is ok. It doesn’t mean you are ungrateful. It doesn’t mean your life is awful. Maybe you have just pressed your autopilot button and you are coasting. Maybe like me, you have stopped feeling the highs and lows and have settled with just being ok. Well, take it from someone who had to quickly navigate through this season of life, stop it. Don’t dwell in it. Understand that you can’t feel happiness to its fullness unless you’ve felt its nemesis…sadness. Feel it, understand it, know it is temporarily, and move on.
If I gave you a nice, warm cup of coffee each morning. You would begin to expect it. After months, maybe even years of this routine, you would still enjoy it, but the excitement of waking up to a freshly brewed cup would no longer exist. How would I get you to appreciate that morning ritual again? I would take it away. You would then long for the scent of the freshly brewed coffee, the taste of the first sip and the feeling of the warm mug. Now, imagine me giving it back. You would appreciate it so much more. You would enjoy it that much more.
So friends, whether you are happy or sad, excited or frustrated, I am here to say it’s ok. You aren’t selfish and you aren’t ungrateful…you are human. And to know what true happiness feels like, you must lose it every now and then. Oh, and know this. We are imperfect people in an imperfect world so if you feel abundant joy, for the sake of all of us, embrace the heck out of it. I promise to do the same for you.