The Happiness Trap


The HAPPINESS TRAP – I’m GUILTY of this. “I can ONLY be happy if I go to Europe…”, “I can ONLY be happy if I live a more glamorous life…”, “I can ONLY be happy if I get to take that Instagram-worthy picture in front of the Eiffel Tower in a vintage dress and post it on Facebook for all of my friends to like…”

This has been my mantra (should I say, whines?) for the past few days. It is a bit disconcerting and unhealthy and it is like I have this bottomless pit of desires I can never really satisfy.

It’s funny how we always, always hanker for that which we don’t have. I always thought that was a good thing. I thought a bit of envy would propel me to move forward and strive for more. But too much of it can lead to a dark cloud all over your head and it can affect the way you interact with people who have what you want. It becomes difficult to be happy for them and you end up resenting them.

My boyfriend called me out on this behavior just last night. It’s natural to be envious, but it becomes a trap if you’re ALWAYS envious. Hence, the HAPPINESS TRAP. “I’ll ONLY be happy IF I HAVE WHAT SHE HAS. Why does she deserve it??? What has she DONE? WHAT ABOUT ME???”

This dialogue in your head goes on and on until it snowballs into this huge storm and you really just feel horrible and you can’t see the things you do have in your life.

Can anybody relate to this?

Well, here’s a little reminder for all of us, then:

Happiness isn’t this huge production where you have to have ALL the things you want ALL the time. There will always be someone with more than you have, and someone else with less. It’s not a ploy of the universe to make you feel bad about yourself or to give you the license to brag. It is just about acceptance.

Life DOES get better with your acceptance. Happiness comes in salty water, in that not-so-perfect sunny-side-up you made this morning (but your little sister loved because you made breakfast), in the 75%-off pair of cute wedges you came across at a random shop, in the crazy antics of your colleagues who always make fun of you (but who do accept you and respect you and work well with you), in that nasty cold that magically disappeared after a good night’s sleep and a bowl of dumpling noodles. HAPPINESS DOES NOT HAVE TO BE FREAKIN’ INSTAGRAM-WORTHY EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Acknowledge envy, but move on. Don’t be a black hole and a pain in the neck with all that whining. Choose to see the little things that are in your life.

Happiness is not a big fat high. It’s quiet, steady acceptance of what is going on in your life right now. Have a little appreciation, for Chrissakes!


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