I usually can be found with a smile on my face, yet I would describe myself as a pessimistic optimist or an optimistic pessimist. I have hidden a lot of tears and pain behind that big smile of mine, and I also have gone out of my way to make other people smile and laugh. I used to feel as if my unofficial job has been to make everyone as happy as possible, while often searching for, and sometimes faking, happiness for myself. But not any more.
I have been on a lifelong quest for happiness, and along the way, I have learned a great deal about this topic. One thing that often gets overlooked when discussing happiness is pain. More specifically, that pain is an inevitable part of life and that there is nothing innately wrong with it. It may not feel good or be something that we seek out, but pain is okay actually, even when it feels anything but okay.
Obviously, we want to experience positive feelings and help others feel better when they are in pain, but there are times when we need to sit with our own pain and allow others time to sit with their pain. There is a difference between acknowledging pain and wallowing in it, but too often, I have tended to want to run from the first pang of pain and set out to wipe away someone’s tears before they even fall. Because pain is, well, painful.
There are lessons that pain offers up, at times, if only we are not so quick to banish it to the nether regions of our psyche. From pain, we develop resiliency. We search for solutions to challenges. We leave relationships, jobs, situations, and places that are not good for us for better and healthier ones. We discover new things about ourselves and others. We survive, then thrive. We learn, maybe the hard way, but we learn lessons that dismissing or sugar-coating pain could never teach us.
This does not mean that I am completely abandoning my personal desire to make myself and others happy, but it does mean that I will approach pain differently when I encounter it in myself and others. Because, sometimes, the pathway to happiness is found by going through the pain.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story