Over the holidays I was listening to an episode of Simon Sinek’s podcast, A Bit of Optimism. And in an interview with Derren Brown, Derren gets you to think about happiness as a verb, something you do, rather than as a noun, something you have.
Don't want to read this post? Listen to the podcast instead:Being happy all the time is unrealistic. Instead, we should aim for 'Macro Happiness' with 'Micro' emotions in between.Click To Tweet
And as I was listening I had one of those moments where the penny dropped and I suddenly realised, of course, you can’t be happy all the time. And yet, as we go through life, we’re lead to believe that if you’re not happy, something must be wrong. We’re taught that happiness is something we need to find and hang on to for as long as possible.
But this is completely unrealistic…
You can’t be happy all the time and to think otherwise is setting yourself up for failure.
Think about it, if someone close to you dies, you’re not going to be happy. You’re probably going to be very sad and maybe even angry. And that’s fine. We need to experience a range of emotions so that when we do feel happy again, we recognise this positive feeling.
After the interview, I was thinking more about this idea of happiness as a verb, as a short-term thing that you do. And I found myself wondering, well if happiness is something you do, how often should we experience happiness?
I came to the conclusion that you should aim for “macro happiness”. In other words, if you had to summarise your life right now from a big picture point of view, you’d want to describe it as happy. Even though you may not be happy all the time, you might be experiencing short-term micro emotions, generally speaking you want to describe your life as happy.
I finished the interview feeling lighter. As if a weight had been lifted off my shoulder. It’s okay to be micro-stressed, or even micro-unhappy. You can have a bad as long as you are macro happy.
I guess this leads me to the next logical question; how do you know if you are macro happy?
This is something that’s going to be very personal to you. For me, I am macro happy when all the important areas of my life are taken care of and are going well. My health, my family, my friends, my work. If these things are good, I’m happy.
Maybe all this is obvious. But for me, I find it liberating to break down this expectation that you have to be happy all the time.
If you have any comments or feedback, let me know in the comments below!