Trying to “Be Happy” is Ruining Your Life

I’m writing this from the airport in Guayaquil, Ecuador at 6:30am. Finishing up a two-week vacation to visit my mother and family. It was an amazing experience and I spent most of my time reading, writing and just being present with my mom.

I know this post title may be jarring. But I mean it very seriously. There’s powerful learning here friends. Let’s start with some spiritual caramel goodness from Kute Blackson:

“Often in our striving to get somewhere or feel something different, we lose the fact that we are here. Right here. Nowhere else.”

-Kute Blackson

We all love a good quote. But 99% of us fail to question, analyze and decipher their deeper meaning. Oh, and I added in the italic phrase. He should have written it like that.

This quote from Kute’s book You Are The One seems basic on the surface. Similar advice is found in countless other spirituality writings. Tomes from wise worldly dudes such as Krishnamurti, Ram Dass, Lao Tzu and Thich Nhat Hanh and hundreds more profound thinkers. There’s no doubt you’ve heard this before… an urging to live in the moment. To enjoy the present. To be yourself. Drives you nuts, right?

What does it really mean? If I’m alive and breathing doesn’t that mean I’m living “in the moment?”

And what does This Have to Do WIth being “Happy?”

Here’s why the wise sages urge us to “live in the moment” and drink in the beauty of everyday common life. Of course by “living in the moment” we’re asked to also completely accept any pain and loneliness naturally arises.

I’ve had an intense journey over the last five months. For the first time in my life I fully experienced my pain and sorrow. Accepted my pain. Lived through it and felt the burn. I cared for the wounds, and now the scars are starting to form.

I think I found what they were talking about. But there’s a problem with the language.. Words will forever fail to capture the clean, easy, eternal beauty you’ll find when you just ARE. The calm you’ll feel when you begin to simply BE. Whatever you are now, just be that. Sounds stupid to you now, maybe. There’s no other way to describe the feeling. Only someone who’s been there will understand.

By trying to “be happy” all the time, I was sabotaging my life. By “thinking positive” 24/7 and fighting my natural depression, sadness and loneliness I felt so often, I was just engaging in a non-stop war on myself that left me exhausted, broken and scared.

Searching for escapes, shortcuts, quick fixes and cover-ups… I was denying the current moment, creating conflict and confusion in my mind. I couldn’t get out of my own way.

“Pain is Bad, It Must Be Remedied Immediately!”

Our entire culture, our way of life – is centered around the belief that pain is bad, and pleasure is good. Pain must be rid of immediately and in as effective form as possible. Medicinal, emotional, physical, spiritual. All pain is the enemy. And pleasure is king… Medicate it away, think it away, run away, get angry, do whatever you must they say.

Achieve, acquire! Be happy! Give back! Be the change! Set goals! Hustle! Vision board! Life is good! Go, go, go!

Ugh. I’m exhausted even writing about this, let alone feeling it like I used to every minute… Guilt and shame over not being able to “be happy” and be great all the time. I must be insane. But here’s the deal. Isn’t pain naturally within us? With pleasure will come pain. Does this mean we’re broken?

Are you messed up in the head? Do you need to be medicated or distracted?

The answer is no, you very much are not. I’ve felt all the above and so much more. I thought I was insane for about all of my adult life. A hopeless case. Because I was always trying to feel positive, to follow the advice from these perfect authors. I had humongous dreams of happiness and wealth and placed all my attention there. It was horrible.

Finally facing my pain and sorrows convinced me otherwise, and continues to rewire my brain and make me the person I always wanted to be. My pain and obstacles are now a refuge, a challenge, like a hard new concept in chemistry. I must break it down and study this. When I finally stopped distracting myself and running away from my pain, depression and loneliness I felt my soul emerge… the soul that had been buried for over 15 years.

As you’ll read below, pain and sorrow are completely natural emotions. Though when you’re stuck in them you feel alone, you definitely aren’t. Best part is that pain brings lessons. These lessons can change our lives in massive ways. Pain can be an asset, a tool to better yourself and your life.

If you stick with me through this journey, I’ll show you that you aren’t a hopeless case either. Inside you is the gift of infinite beauty, godliness and power beyond your belief. It’s not a new phase, it’s not a 12-week diet. It’s YOU in all your infinite possibilities. Once you learn to stop trying and simply listen to your emotions.

Thirteen Key Points To Take WIth You:

  • Don’t Hate Yourself For Feeling Bad. My deep, unrestrained self-analysis over the last 8 months taught me that trying to be anything other than who I was in the moment was in effect war on myself, struggle, conflict and unnatural. If I was ever wishing for a different state, feeling or situation, I was failing to ACCEPT who I was and how I was feeling. Those feelings are supposed to be there, you must feel them in their fullness to learn the lesson. To develop toughness. Many go through their entire lives running, hiding or distracting themselves from natural pain.
  • By failing to accept my pain, my natural state of mind – I was failing to understand myself. By failing to understand myself  I was failing to truly live. I didn’t know who I was, besides scared shitless or being sad or lonely. Do you sometimes daydream and fantasize of a better future life? Have lofty goals and visions? An incredible vision board in your home office? We all do things like this, we all want to be “happy.” Nothing wrong with that..
  • I understand the beauty in optimism, in dreaming.. but is there an underlying theme of darkness, pain and suffering in your glorious goals and dreams? Make sure you don’t hate your present while you love on your supposed Utopian future. The one that will never exist. (sorry, but it won’t, you’ll just be you, and you’ll be left wondering.. “What now?” )
  • Listen, Study, Act. Stop Trying to Think it Away. If you don’t like yourself or your current life situation, that’s okay. Change it by studying your pain. Today. Now. Make decisions now that will improve your life. Tomorrow belongs to those who live today. Stop conflicting yourself. Stop killing yourself trying to substitute thoughts that are NATURALLY THERE. Please stop putting yourself down for not feeling great. You’re not screwed up, and most likely there’s nothing wrong with you. Your mind and body are giving you feedback. Don’t fight it. Listen!
  • It Bears Repeating – It’s Normal To Feel Like Shit Sometimes. It’s okay to not be happy. Seriously. Pain, sadness, flatness, are normal. Life is a topography like Earth. Mountains, valleys, soaring peaks, nasty little caves with tingly, dank pockets of air. We’ll walk through misty infinite forests we think won’t end and atop mountains with expansive mind-blowing views of the horizon. You’ve gotta keep traveling.
  • Take it. Accept it. Own it. Learn to feel a state and be OK with it… “I feel anxiety right now, and that is OK.” There is power in phrasing it like this, believe me. It is comforting to the mind and reinforces lessons of meditation and stillness – the thinking brain with all it’s craziness is like a big blue sky. The feeling you have right now is simply a cloud in the sky of your thinking mind. Observe it as if you’re standing on the ground looking up.  That is your observing mind. You can look at how you’re feeling as a temporary experience. “I’m feeling sadness tonight. I wonder why?”
  • There’s a Silver Lining. A Huge One. This taking pain and swallowing it lifestyle is not about accepting a pain-filled life, I promise. Living in the moment (the emotional, mental moment) not only makes good times better, but it makes bad times easier as well. Everything gets easier, authentic and manageable. Our fears become expected, predictable. Almost a friend and companion. Hard to believe but trust me. You will gain confidence, power and toughness. Less fear in life is an amazing thing. Literally this is the other HALF of life that people don’t take care of… fears, pain, shame, self-esteem. Once you develop power and acceptance in these areas you will unlock infinite potential in the other areas of your life.
  • Suffering and painful emotions for their own sake do not make you stronger.. you have to heal! You have to learn the lesson so it won’t happen again. This is why it’s important not to just feel the pain, you must objectively analyze the “why” behind it. Study it. Observe it. Fully feel the burn, care for the wound intelligently, and let it scar.
  • Regular Aerobic Exercise Will Change Your Life. This deserves a lifetime of daily posts. I did post about my favorite piece of home exercise equipment, the Peloton Cycle, which began a great fitness journey in my life. I beg you to please engage in regular aerobic exercise. I lifted weights for years, but not until I started spinning and doing cardio regularly did I realize that aerobic exercise is moving meditation. Nothing else brings you in the moment like a 45-minute intense aerobic workout. Exercise takes that pain and questioning in your brain and works it around naturally, fleshes it out, teases it, tests it. Aerobic exercise will help your brain and your soul to swallow the pain. And to keep it down.
  • This is a Human Condition. You’re Not Alone. Ever. This isn’t about being a yogi, or a spiritual master. That all comes later. This is about being HUMAN. At some point we became conscious as a species. Now we have to deal with this lovely living brain and the power of memory… Being a homo sapiens really screwed us. Past, future, guilt, regrets, unjustified fears, worry.. it’s purely a human struggle. Buddhism, religion, yoga, meditation, kung fu monks, all of it is the pursuit of calm in the hurricane of conscious, constant thought.
  • One Love, One HeartRight now as I’m writing this post I’m okay with who I am. I know what I’m good at and what I’m not. I accept me, or at least I work at it everyday. If I die right now, I’m proud of where I’ve taken myself. I’ve made some heartbreaking, disastrous mistakes. I’ve also created unbelievable beauty and experienced immense joys. I’ve felt pain that I honestly believed I wouldn’t survive. Long nights, weeks and months. I’ve wanted to end it all a few times. Other times I’ve felt as if I was soaring above the horizon of the entire universe, viewing all of space and time as a golden pathway to the heavens. Breathtaking, tears-in-my-eyes beauty. I’ve smiled so hard that it hurt. My soul has cried tears of joy and tears of pain. It continues to everyday. Like this kind of stuff? Check out my post Living Like It’s Your Last Hour
  • In the end, we’re all one spirit, one being, one people, all struggling to make sense of this wacky little existence. Practice forgiveness and love, both for yourself and others.
  • So please stop trying to be so damn happy. Allow yourself to be as you are, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. You are feeling exactly what you’re supposed to feel. This is your fate, there’s beauty in it. Stop fighting. Listen, learn and grow. Develop a solid, rich foundation in your life and you won’t have to make yourself feel anything.
  • But don’t stop trying because you think it will finally make you happy.



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