This is a tough blog to write.. The first time I came across the idea that trying to be happy will make you unhappy (in the long run) I rejected the idea as negative. But the fact is, it's actually true. Let me explain why.
Every now and then I hear people say they just want to "be happy" in life and that nothing else matters to them. That's an awesomely positive intention and I like that. So why would I say that it's a bad idea then?
The reason is because happiness is an emotion - and human emotions are fleeting and fluctuate. It's a part of our human experience to feel a range of emotions (unless you are a complete psychopath and you don't feel anything).
Feeling great is great. But there's nothing wrong with feeling pretty average after a long day at work. There's also nothing wrong with being sad if something terrible happens. I saw a guy once wearing a t-shirt that said "sad's not bad" and it's so true. Sometimes feeling sad is right. If someone close to you passes away a normal healthy reaction would be to feel sadness. There's absolutely nothing wrong with feeling other parts of the emotional spectrum; from love to excitement to guilt and even anger. It is all a part of our human experience and that experience is where the beauty of life is.
For some reason we have an aversion to feeling "negative" AKA anything that is not positive emotions. As soon as we are feeling sad we go into a mode of how do I get back to "happy". A lot of people struggle to sit with their emotions when they aren't feeling amazing and to me that is a sign of being unhealthy.
I am a big advocate and believer that your mindset should always be positive and optimistic, but your emotions are another story. Generally speaking you want to be positive and happy, but It's impossible to ALWAYS feel positive emotions, because if you only feel positive emotions then they are no longer positive because there is no spectrum any more - it's just a baseline "constant" feeling.
Sometimes you will taste the sweetness and sometimes you will taste the bitter, and as the saying goes "the sweet is never as sweet without the bitter." Having a mindset that you only want to taste the sweet in life sets you up for disappointment. Eventually something bitter will come along and you feel like you've made a mistake when you taste it, because all you wanted was to be happy. This is how trying to be happy will make you unhappy. Sometimes tasting bitterness is a part of life and there's nothing wrong with it. It's not nice, but it's never permanent either.
So - if aiming to "be happy" sets you up for disappointment, what should you do?
The intention of wanting to be positive is right, but a better position to aim for is to feel fulfilment and gratitude. Being fulfilled and grateful everyday is something that can remain constant. You can have a career that fulfils you, everyday, no matter how stressful the workload is at that time. You can have a partner that you are grateful for, everyday, no matter how you feel on that particular day.
You can (and should) live a life that is fulfilling and that you are grateful for. That is where real positivity will be found, and nothing can stop that.