I may get myself into trouble with this one.
But I’ve always been suspicious of happy people.
I do NOT mean these people:
- People who are generally cheerful and fun to be around
- People who look for the opportunity or advantage in situations that don’t go their way
- People who love and accept who they are, and reflect a confidence, or a natural/authentic manner as a result
Rather, I AM talking about the people who are so happy (and expressive of it) that you want to slap them. The people who make a point of their happiness. The people who are trying to convince you how to be happier, too.
Here’s the thing.
Most of us really aren’t after happiness. Perhaps satisfaction or fulfillment or meaning. But not happiness. Happiness is boring.
Alan Watts is a master at expressing this paradox, and it goes something like this: You can’t have light without dark, life without death, happiness without sadness. You need one to recognize the other.
Some people call this drama. Well, there is melodrama, and then there is simply the rhythm of life. We like to play a game with ourselves—and with life—to keep things interesting.
I’m reminded of a scene from Anne of Avonlea:
Marilla: You set your heart too much on frivolous things and then crash down into despair when you don’t get them.
Anne: I know. I can’t help flying up on the wings of anticipation. It’s as glorious as soaring through a sunset … almost pays for the thud.
Marilla: Well, maybe it does. But I’d rather walk calmly along and do without flying AND thud.
I admit it: I love the anticipation.
And what I love are the people who realize we’re playing that game all along, and don’t take it too seriously. People who take their happiness very seriously scare me.
We do choose suffering (consciously or not)—we do choose to be sad—because being happy all the time would be no fun at all. Complexity and melancholy and sadness and suffering—these things lend richness to life.
The most beautiful humans to me are the ones with a tinge of sadness—the kind of sadness that only comes with knowing one’s impossible condition, and knowing the beauty (and the loss of beauty). I want to acknowledge this—this too is part of life, as much as the happiness.