Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Being Suzy Sunshine is Not For Me

"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we'd have a pretty good time." - Edith Wharton

Who doesn't like to be happy? We all want to have good days, spectacular times and it would be great to be happy all the time. Right?

That isn't possible or realistic now is it? I for one think that there is something to be said for being a bit triste, as the French say.

Look around you. What makes you happy? Is it the smell of fall or warm, just baked cookies? Is it a dirty martini, a nice shoe find or time spent out with your loved ones? If you had to classify what constitutes a happy day for you it would probably involve an almost innumerable amount of things. Our quest for happiness is unquenchable and sometimes I think that with all these desires for good times, good moods and moments we are missing the small moments of real happiness. By not allowing for the sad and bad times we cannot fully appreciate all the good.

Eric Wilson, author of the book 'Against Happiness' states that people who are part of the happiness movement, "leads to half-lives, to bland existences," and he argues that Americans' fixation on happiness, fosters "a craven disregard for the value of sadness" and "its integral place in the great rhythm of the cosmos." So wait, all those hours I spent listening to the Cure and wearing black in my teens was not pointless but integral to the universe? Finally! Validation for my constant state of mourning while wearing Gap, Contempo Casual and Polo blacks.

I have nothing against being happy. I fully support smiles and those with a sunshiney disposition. I am just not one of those people naturally. I also don't think we should nurture our souls and our children to expect to be happy all the time. Being sad is part of the deal that is life. One that I kind of enjoy at times. Who doesn't like a bit of wallowing, a walk in the driving, cold rain or some "tortured" journal writing? Having a good cry is cathartic and even healthy. Using Zoloft to get over a disappointment like a teen break-up is not.

“The greatest tragedy is to live without tragedy,” Wilson writes. “To hug happiness is to hate life. To love peace is to loathe the self. The blues are clues to the sublime. The embrace of gloom stokes the heart.” I couldn't agree more. We wouldn't have such great works of art from Hemingway, Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind' and more if we didn't experience these tragedies.

Further proof that the happiness brigade is getting us nowhere- Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy


  1. Oh my gosh that was a HILARIOUS clip..so right on too. Man, you don't realize as you're bitching about those things....

  2. Freaking awesome. I loved this one. And Louis CK kills me every time. BTW, "Simpler Times" beer from Trader Joe's = awesome. Super cheap at $2.99/6 pack.

  3. Thanks for your insight. It makes me feel a little less guilty about feeling down. I guess if you were happy all the time you would not be facing reality. Allowing yourself to be sad is a good thing. Being sad and feeling you are doing something wrong for feeling that way simply makes it worse. Being happy is great. Being sad is human.


Thanks for commenting! It's always good to hear from a reader and not say, a robot.