“Just be happy.”
Have you ever heard these words and felt so utterly at a loss as to what to do with them? I know I have. At a time when I was struggling, wishing for comfort, feeling like I was being crushed under the weight of my own sorrows, I was told:
“Stop crying. Just be happy!”
Although I’m sure the lady was very well-intentioned, at the time she gave me a suggestion that seemed to me impossible.
“But… how can I just be happy?” I thought.
If you have ever struggled with depression and anxiety, you know what it feels like. The overwhelming sadness. You remember what it felt like to be happy, but that feeling is so very far removed from the feelings that you feel right now – and you just can’t quite remember how to get it back. You don’t really want to get it back. You remember vaguely that you had that feeling once, but that feels like that was a completely different person, and you may never feel that way again.
Sometimes happiness seems so far away from reality that it is impossible to imagine ever being happy again. There seems no reason to be happy at all. Your heart is about to break from some tradegy, only bad news angrily spatters across your TV screen and Facebook timeline, your loved ones have let you down or hurt you, you just cannot seem to get any relief from illness or trials, or you have tried to do something and failed miserably.
…and no matter how much people say it, no matter how well meaning their words are, you could never, ever just be happy.
Rest assured, that no matter what people tell you, it is okay to be unhappy sometimes. It is okay to cry and to grieve over pain or things lost. If Jesus Himself wept (John 11:35; Luke 19:14), then I know I can certainly be justified in doing so!
Our sadness only becomes a problem when it becomes our way of life—when we let the negative feelings overwhelm us. It is important to realize that while the feelings of sadness may seem overwhelming, they do not have to overwhelm. Sadness does not have to define you. Yes, be sad—take the time to cry, and grieve—but then move on.
But I’m going to tell you, that no matter how you try, you will never, ever just be happy. Nor should you try to be. In fact, we should never just be anything. Happiness is intentional. Happiness is a choice. We should be able to find a reason for everything we do—and there certainly are many reasons to be happy and not give up!
It is very likely that those people who say that have never really dealt with their emotions in a constructive way – or perhaps don’t feel as deeply as you do. Instead of suppressing emotions (which is incredibly unhealthy), you should embrace those negative emotions and find positive thoughts to counteract them.
When you consider others’ lives—no matter how carefree they seem—everyone of us has had hard times, trials and low points in our lives. Yet, some cope with it, and others don’t. The one thing that makes one person’s outlook on life different from the other is their attitude towards the troubles they face. While one never fully recovers from traumatic experiences, the other may grieve or falter momentarily, but then get up and move on.
How do they do it? Each person who moves on learns from their experiences and chooses to leave the bitterness and self-pity behind. They press forward, looking for the things that are good in their lives and focusing on making those things better—holding onto hope and letting that hope steer them to happiness.
When everything else seems hopeless, there is always something to be happy about or thankful for:
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 1:4)
Yeah, this world has plenty of bad people in it. People do bad things. People make bad decisions. However, no matter how much bad you see being done, there are a lot of people doing good as well. Focus on those doing good and let them bring you joy.
“I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you” (1 Corinthians 7:16)
You do have at least one friend you can rely on, if you are honest with yourself – even if they’re just a Facebook friend you can chat to on messenger. Be thankful for those around you who you can rely on and have not let you down, even if it is just the faithful few.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2, 3).
Rejoice in the knowledge that your troubles are making you stronger and helping you to learn valuable lessons. If it was a mistake you made, you likely won’t make it again – and even if you do, you have the Father’s promise of forgiveness no matter how many times you fall. Amazing, right? If it was an experience, you have learnt how to be more empathetic towards others.
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:12)
This life is not the end. Rejoice that at the coming of Christ your patience will be rewarded with joy and rest. Joy and rest. No more tiredness, pain, sickness, death. In times of tradgedy, Heaven seems all that more sweet. Use these times to learn to lean into Him and hope for Heaven just that little bit more.
“[Happy] are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city [Heaven]” (Revelation 22:14).
So if you are going through emotional or physical pain, then go on and have yourself a good cry, but resolve not to stay in that depressed state forever. Do not lose your lovely self and waste all your precious talents by wallowing in grief and self-pity.
Don’t just be happy (that’s impossible anyway), find reasons to be happy and let them spur you onward. You can do so much more. You are worth so much more. Find a reason to hold on and keep hoping. Things will get better.