I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don’t mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep” and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness.” Ask yourself, “Is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.
—Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life
i read this quote in early 2015 and it really stuck with me. it got me through some shit times and has made bad days more manageable. it was like a permission slip to feel guilt-free gloomy once in a while. and beyond that, to just sit there in the gloom without trying to brush it under the rug and search for sunshine. it’s also helped me be more mindful when others are going through a tough minute, day, month – instead of defaulting to the canned cliches and reassuring them that better days are just around the corner, i’m trying to simply listen and allow them to feel the way they do at that point in time.
as i’ve been doing more meditation and yoga, this theory continues to be reinforced. life is going to happen. the good and the challenging. negative thoughts will be there. we shouldn’t spend our time learning how to avoid the “tough stuff,” but rather how to process them, manage them and learn from them in natural, healthy, constructive ways.
here’s to wishing you a year of wholeness in 2016.