The search for happiness has been the focus of most popular psychology in the United States for at least the last 50 years. Unfortunately, this has left a false impression on many people. It is often thought that if a person isn’t happy, there is something wrong with them. This is entirely false!
Healthy people experience a whole range of emotions. Yes, they are happy, but when something upsetting happens, they may experience a whole range of appropriate emotions – sadness, complete despair, disappointment, frustration, anger, and more.
In fact, most true crime enthusiasts could probably list a whole stream of serial killers and other famously mentally ill individuals who were known for not being able to express true emotions in healthy ways.
So, be miserable! If something bad happens, it is good to take a moment, when the moment is right, and let yourself process the natural reaction. This isn’t an excuse to treat others badly, of course, but it is important NOT to “fake it till you make it.” Sometimes the healthy thing is to admit defeat, sadness, or the other real emotion before moving on.
The other important element to think about it degree. There are many degrees of different emotions. The world isn’t a black-and-white place. Take physical illness (outside of mental illness), for example. Someone with cancer is much sicker than someone with a cold, but they are both sick and they both feel bad. Both feelings are legitimate. Just because a person with a bad cold doesn’t have cancer doesn’t mean they don’t bad or don’t need a break. Sadness isn’t a contest any more than physical health is.
Timing is also important. There are moments that venting negative emotions (or “trauma dumping”) may not be in good taste. It doesn’t mean your emotions aren’t valid, but in the middle of a business meeting or when a friend is going through a hard time may not be the moment to unload yourself.
Remember, part of being happy and successful is being real. Allow yourself all ranges of emotions and wellbeing. You may even find your connections with people become more genuine and experiences more poignant when you allow yourself the whole range of emotions.