We live in a society that downplays happiness – partnering joy with words like naive, ignorant, unaware. We are taught not to trust too quickly or to open up too easily, keep our expectations low so we do not end up disappointed. Self-preservation reservations have their place, but how do we learn to embrace simple joy again?
We should welcome happiness with open arms, like an old friend who’s been gone for too long. Instead, we treat it like an enemy. We narrow our eyes at it, arch a brow, force it to squirm under our accusatory gaze. We circle it, looking it up and down with judgmental eyes.
Happiness is forced into a hard chair, its wrists tied to the arm rests. We pat it down, poke it, prod it, look for flaws or dangers hidden within its folds. We give happiness a full body cavity search, stripping it down to taunt and shame it until the joy is lost altogether.
We try to torture a hidden agenda from its mouth – “What’s the catch?” – and question its intentions until all becomes silent. Paranoid looks make it feel small and unwanted. We bombard happiness with accusations, water-board it with suspicion, until finally, satisfied, we turn it loose. Rubbing its raw wrists and standing stiffly, happiness keeps its eyes down and shuffles away into darkness.
We over-analyze in order to maintain control, wary of deception. We remain vigilant so we do not get tricked or mocked. But, like anything that remains oppressed long enough, happiness will become weakened when distrusted and abused.
The minority – those who freely possess joy – are regarded as less informed, ignorant to the truths of our reality. But what if this “fool’s paradise” isn’t for fools after all, but for, dare I say, those most in touch with our world?
Gasp! This girl must a sheltered, guileless simpleton. What does she know about the world? Here is what I know: Happiness should not be synonymous with false views or unawareness. Rather than belittling this emotion to something that should be mocked and beaten senseless, we should embrace it, link fingers with it, lock arms with it, my God, wrap our arms all the way around it and hold on for dear life.
Happiness is not our enemy or our weakest link; happiness is our strongest ally in a culture full of saddened soldiers and bitter backbiters. Indifference is the true invader we should question and point fingers at.
Those who are “too wise” and to believe, “too aware” to dare to remain positive. They are the ignorant ones, the misinformed fools, because they are unable to see the possibilities that optimism affords.
So when you find happiness, meet it full-on. Lock eyes and engage it. Don’t give it a passing nod or a sympathetic, close-lipped smile. Don’t assume it doesn’t understand or comprehend. Don’t patronize it.
Investigate it, but accept it. Dare to question it – happiness is strong enough to withstand your interrogation. But give it a chance to explain, to show you its strength and power.
Happiness must be given space to grow and room to evolve. Instead of binding it up and ripping it apart as a semblance of keeping control, surrender yourself to it.
Entertain happiness, fuel it with your own open heart and mind. Feed it with actions and celebrations. Use it as a lens to view your own life. Not with a blind eye to the problems, but with a well-trained one, focused on the movers and shakers, the beauty, and the triumphs of our incredible world.