Why Happiness is the Hardest

Every morning I wake up and make a choice.

Every morning I am forced to make a decision that dictates the rest of my day. Some mornings it is an obvious choice. I can get out of bed and I know that no matter what is thrown at me during the day, I will conquer it. I know that on that day I will smile wider, laugh harder and genuinely enjoy the highs and lows that are in my near future. Other mornings don’t come as easy to me. I wake up harder and roll around more. I press snooze a few more times and resent the light coming in through the window. Those morning I check the time and do the mental math of how long I can continue to lay there. Each and every morning I make the toughest choice of the day. I choose to be happy. I choose to see the light at the end of the day and the silver lining, even if it will suck all of the energy out of me.

Why is happiness the toughest feeling to feel? I like the phrase “defaulting to sad.” Defaulting to sad is the idea that instead of having a resting bitch face, you have a resting emotion. Sometimes it is just easier to let the world win. It’s easier to not fight for your right to happiness because the world can be a mean place. Floating around our lives are millions of negative thoughts, words and people and their poisonous attitudes. That negativity collects in your life and sucks out any energy you have. We all know that person who, after you’re no longer around, you can take a deep breath because their negativity is draining. Not only are you drained by them but you’re also now tainted by negativity. Negativity is a poison that infects your whole body. It weakens you mentally, emotionally, physically and socially. It causes happy, confident, go lucky people to do the worst thing on this planet: doubt themselves.

I myself have recently successfully made the journey back from the saddest place I’ve ever known. Every morning that I woke up sad, I would do nothing to change it. I would lay in bed extra long and didn’t have much to say. I was a shell of the former Hannah I once was. I smiled with my lips instead of toothy thing I flash now. I forced myself to laugh because being questioned was the worst thing that could happen to me. I was passionless, hopeless and helpless to the infective negativity that ravished my body. I lived each day wondering why I was stuck like this? Why was I so alone? I hated everything about myself. Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS) swarmed my swampy brain. (Ted Talk explains ANTS.) When they say that you are your own worst nightmare, they were right. I could do nothing correctly, I was never smart enough, I was too fat, too awkward, too friendly, not friendly enough, ugly, average, boring but mainly I was lonely. I was all alone in a group of wonderful people because my foggy brain kept me secluded from everyone.

I would be lying if I said this only lasted for a little bit. In all honestly, I think I’ve had to fight to be happy longer than when it came naturally to me. Maybe I only think that because for some reason we’re equipped with a brain that remembers the bad before the good. I could blame a lot of things but I think it was because no one ever told me it’s ok to be sad, it’s what you do with it that is the problem. Sadness has its place in your life. Sometimes the world sucks and you’re allowed to feel it. You’re allowed to dread the day but when you begin to hate more than you love, you’ve been caught in the default mood. When you finally find out sadness is the easiest of the emotions but don’t pick to push yourself to be happy, that’s when it becomes a problem. I’ve had to fight most of my life to put a smile on my face but it has always been worth it.

How did I beat the fog?

I fell in love with who I am and who I can become.

One day something clicked. Maybe it was two days. (Sorry nothing is definitive because I don’t know when it exactly hit me. It has only recently set in that I’ve made, maybe not a 360 but at least a 180 and I’m headed in the right direction.) I do know that a program I participated in called Leadershape changed my life for the better. Spending a week with 60 outwardly positive people really has a way of soaking into your tough shell, enriching your soul and expelling all of the negativity. It filled up the outwardly confident, daring and passionate woman I seemed to be with actual energy. It gave me that realization that I had succumb to sadness and used it as my default emotion. It took me all summer to start this fall (2014) stronger than ever before. I still have days where I lay there longer and struggle to move out of bed but I make sure to catch myself before ANTS start to swarm my brain again. I remind myself of how lucky I am. I start big and work my way in. I’m at an university, I have a job, I am an ‘able body’ individual, I have the ability to lay in my bed… I have a bed. I think about the littlest things I have. I have polish on my toenails, my pillowcases match my sheets, I have both shampoo and conditioner waiting for me in the shower. I remind myself every morning to be thankful because I have the dumb little things that people go without. Each and everyday I give myself something to look forward to. Wether it be the act of getting ready or cooking dinner that night, I make sure to reward myself with something small. Everyone deserves a treat. If I have a day that can be filled with other activities, I do that. I love on people, do things for someone else, watch Netflix, drink a coffee while sitting down. It’s the little things, but those are the things that saved me from remaining lost.

Keep your head up because in the end, you need yourself before you need anyone else.

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