“Happiness is like being cool, the harder you try, the less it is going to happen. So stop trying. Start living” ~ Mark Manson
I am a lucky person. In this crazy pandemic, my entire family and I have made it through in one piece. My husband has been out of work for half of a year and my son’s school has been closed. But I still have a job that can support my family.
I am grateful.
Every day after dealing with crazy deadlines and pressure at work, I go home and see my son’s sweet, cute face.
I am happy. Or at least, I should be happy. At least, around him so that he can see and feel it. So he will grow up to be a happy person too.
But sometimes, I’m tired. I’m tired of trying or pretending to feel happy when the weight of the whole world is on my shoulders, and I have to push every single second in my life to make it.
Sometimes when I wake up so early that it is still dark out to go to work, I feel lonely and depressed. Sometimes when making my coffee, I cry a little while drinking it.
That’s when I feel the burden of feeling happy.
It is ridiculous that feeling happy becomes a burden. But it does. And all day long we’re bombarded with ideas to be happier and reminders that other people already are.
How often do you surf the internet or scroll down on your Facebook, TikTok, or whatever app and see all of the so-called tips and tricks for a better body, a better salary… a better life?
These kinds of life hacks are like ten a penny. Some are golden, some are stupid. And most of the time, people just make them up.
Even though we might already know many of them, if not all, if we don’t go through them, what do we feel?
We feel uncomfortable. Like we should watch them so we can learn more, so we can do more. So we can be better. And happier.
How about when you are sitting on your couch, watching TV while eating chocolate, and a commercial comes on for a new workout or diet program. Immediately, you feel guilty as hell.
Or how about when you scroll through your high school friends’ social media pages, and they seem to “have it all.” They talk about their healthy lifestyle, their new business, all the travel they’re doing, and you just feel like a complete loser.
The fear of missing out is the real deal. So is the invisible competition between you and everyone else.
We are always afraid.
Especially when the whole world is going one way and we are going the other. But we don’t have to be happy all the time. And we don’t need beat ourselves up for feeling down.
If you’re also feeling the burden of happiness, these ideas might help. (More tips and tricks, I know—but hopefully these ones won’t leave you feeling bad or guilty!)
5 Simple Tricks to Let Go of the Burden of Feeling Happy
1. Stop setting unreasonable goals and holding ridiculously high standards for yourself.
We often think we have to be doing things all the time so we can be there for other people and we can achieve and attain the things we think we need to be happy.
Here’s the harsh truth…
We are not some damn robots that are wired to be superheroes and rescue the world. We don’t have superpowers or special magic that can get things done in a snap of our fingers.
There are some days when we feel like we can do it all, but there are other days when we get lazy and tired.
And it is completely okay to say “f*ck it” for a day or two.
We don’t have to “save the day” all the time, it is okay to be saved too.
So stop setting unrealistic goals and holdings yourself to crazy high standards. It’s okay to want to accomplish things, but when you lay down those SMART goals and create your daily to-do lists, remember to give yourself some space to breathe too.
2. Rethink your daily to-do list.
Not the one you use to remind yourself of the important things. I am talking about the to-do list that requires you to jump from one thing to the next without any time to relax or drink some coffee. There is no point keeping a list of things that you know you won’t be able to complete. But we do it because we think we should happily go, go, go—be it all, do it all, and do it with a smile.
Call me crazy, but there are days I am so busy that I don’t have time to go to the restroom. And I don’t drink any water on those days.
So if your boss is crazy enough to ask you at the end of the day to submit a report the next morning, tell them you need more time.
Don’t say, “Whatever you need!” Ask yourself what you need instead, especially on days when you’re not feeling your best.
3. Be honest with your true emotions
I am always envious as hell when I see some of my high school friends’ Facebook pages. When they seem to have it all figured out, but I am still trying, and struggling, and trying again.
I used to brush away those feelings, telling myself to focus on what I have. But the feelings were still there. They don’t go away. And you know what happens with buried feelings.
I now comfortably and publicly admit my emotions. I get jealous of people. I get sad. I get scared before speaking at every meeting. I say it out loud and I feel better.
Some days I go to meetings and I tell everyone that I am nervous. And surprisingly, those meetings often go well.
If you don’t know how to be honest about your true emotions, I highly recommend journaling. It helps to gradually open up your mind and lower your defense system.
4. Come back to your core.
Sometimes we are so lost in finding happiness that we forget what it really means—to us personally.
Think about it, why do you do what you do? Is it just about money and responsibility, or is it also about taking care of your loved ones and feeling like you’re making a difference?
Answer those questions, and when you’re aware that you are going against your core, lovingly turn back. No judgment. Remind yourself that it’s okay if you don’t feel happy in your daily grind because there’s a greater purpose behind everything you do.
5. Do not compare.
Remember, you are yourself. You are doing the best you can at the moment. No one has gone through what you’ve gone through, no one has done what you’ve done, so no one will understand.
And the good thing is, you don’t need anyone to understand because you don’t need their approval.
Same thing to others. You don’t know what they’ve been through. So do not secretly wish to switch your life with theirs.
And remember you don’t have to be the best at everything you do. If you are not a super mom, it’s fine. I’m not mother of the year, but my son is completely cool with it. He still needs to hug my blanket and smell my scent to take naps when I’m not home.
It can be so unfashionable to admit that you don’t always feel complete, content, happy, and at peace. But it’s okay if you don’t.
You are not a robot with wired emotions. You get scared, freaked out, worried, jealous, anxious, or whatever. And you are still an awesome you.
About Mai Pham
Mai Pham is a proud mom of a little beautiful boy. As a first-time mom, she understands the pressure of raising a little human being when you are not a perfect person. She helps other first-time moms to release stress, trust their instinct, and to enjoy their moments. She runs Mommy Instinct, where she shares her journey, guides, tips, and things she uses to boost her parenting.