If someone you’re reasonably close to asks you how you are and you say “good” they are likely to say something along the lines of “oh that’s good” and the conversation will move on to things that are bigger or better or just plain ‘other.’
If you answer “I’m not that great today” they are likely to ask why and the conversation will center around trying to ‘fix’ your sadness as if sadness is clearly an emotion that no one should ever feel if at all possible.
But sadness is not wrong just as happiness is not right. Feelings are neither right nor wrong- they simply are. And we need all of our emotions to live a full and enriched life. And isn’t that the goal, really? To live a full and enriched life.
I’m not suggesting we need to stop trying to cheer up the sad. I’m only suggesting that we need to stop treating happiness like the expected-
like the default-
like the “correct.”
Happiness is certainly nice and more of it in life is nice, too. But I don’t think we’re going to get more of it in life if we dismiss happiness as the default emotion that everybody needs. It’s not an inherent trait so much as it is a choice. I think the way to get the most good out of life is to analyze happiness just as we instinctively analyze sadness.
What is it that makes you happy? Why does it make you happy? How can you maximize the experience of happiness?
If someone you’re reasonably close to asks you how you are and you say “good” I propose that the ideal response is “Oh, that’s great to hear! Why? What do you define as ‘good’?”
Now, I understand that ‘good’ is something you have to often say in passing to avoid concerning the polite individual who asked you how you are, purely out of the curtesy of smalltalk. In that case, there is no time to dwell on why you are good. Neither of you two have to time to truly talk about your individual emotional well-being.
However, if you have the time- next time someone says they are good- try asking why. Find out what makes them happy.
Look inwardly next time you are happy and ask yourself why you feel so happy. How can you maximize that feeling and transfer it to other areas of your life?
Just give it a try. Be meditatively happy. You just might find yourself reflecting on the good in life more often than the bad.