Happiness is Over-Rated

When a patient begins treatment, it is quite common for him or her to tell me that their goal of working with me is to be happy. In the initial stages of our work, I let this slide … for who am I to rain on their fantastical parade? Delusion certainly has a protective purpose. But as treatment progresses and the ego strengthens, I often find an opening to be my smart-ass self and present the truth as it is … that happiness is really over-rated. Indeed, it is the sought-after feeling that motivates the consumer to open his/her wallet to buy whatever product or experience a person believes will give him/her an emotional state change. A shift, albeit temporary, that will take them out of loneliness, emptiness, boredom or anger – or some other feeling which is not fun to feel. But, like all those other feelings, happiness too is fleeting. It is not any more valuable than the smorgasbord of other feelings one can experience.

Thus, my agenda for patients is the opposite – I want to provide both the safety and the nudging that will ultimately stir them to be as alive as they possibly can be. I want them to relish in the totality of the human experience which means accepting and enjoying the fact that we are not one note musicals or one color paintings. We have many thoughts, wishes, fantasies, dreams and feelings – all of which are to be treasured and dare I say, enjoyed.   Often it is our fear of this varied richness and layered depth of our psyches that causes us to cut ourselves off from having that full life we all claim to want – authentic satisfaction with the package as a whole.

So, in the days ahead, my wish for you is to find all your moments – even those that you would rather not be having. And if curiosity and gratitude are not something you can yet muster, at least realize that you are not slumbering in the suburbs of your mind. That, my friends, is a good thing and dare I say, a happy moment.

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