RU okay? Why it's okay to say if you're not.

I'm writing a book about happiness habits, and what to do to live a happier life, but I had to put this in it, and share it today, in honour of the very important 'RU okay?' day.

You can get fooled into thinking that it's ideal to always be happy. I mean, why else would someone write a whole book about happiness habits, right?

Wrong.

Expecting to be forever smiling, upbeat, perky and cheerful is not only pretty unrealistic, it's also not very healthy.

"How are you?" Great! Awesome! Every day is better than the last! Terrific!

Yeah, that's not, like, super honest.

Some people think that in order to be happy, you have to get rid of all your sad feelings. Sweep them up. Chuck them out. Good riddance.

I say, nope. Feelings give us good clues as to what's going on in our lives. If I'm feeling sad (and I know it's more than hormones) I use it as a chance to figure out where my brain is at. What's going on? Am I tired and overwhelmed? Am I grieving about something? Is something upsetting me? What's the real issue?

Then I go into the layers of the sadness. Maybe I'm feeling angry with my friend because she made a stupid joke about how much time I spend at band practice, but actually, it's more that I'm hurt that she doesn't understand what a priority music is for me. I thought she would understand that I'm still there for her.

Maybe I'm sad because when my aunty died, I never really got to say goodbye. And I miss her heaps, it almost hurts my heart.

Maybe I'm struggling to see how I'm going to get through high school, when I've got no money, and my dad is never around, and things at home just go from bad to worse. Is there even a future ahead?

Life is tough. For some of us, it's more than tough. Pretending it's not is dishonest. And we are all going to hit sad, mad, upset, angry feelings along the way.

Here's something really useful: You have permission to FEEL those feelings. Be sad, mad, upset and angry for a while. Dive into the feelings and let them give it all they've got. Eventually, they'll run their course, and their intensity will fade.

When we try to avoid feeling the hard feelings and squash them down, we don't get rid of them. We just put them into pots on a backburner where they bubble away for the rest of our lives, and get more and more scary, dangerous and scalding. They turn into depression, resentment and bitterness, repression, health problems and issues like addictions, cutting and eating disorders. And fighting those things ends up being a bigger happiness-sapper than feeling them in the first place.

So feel your hard feelings. Cry them out. Bash pillows if you need to. Tell someone else how you feel* and get it out. You'll end up happier in the long run. And ask someone else, RU okay? It just might help them too.

 

*If you need help doing this, see a trusted friend who is really, really good at listening, or find a mental health professional with experience in helping young people.

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