One of the most liberating decisions I have made in my life was that being sad would not restrict me from being happy. Don't get me wrong: I do not have a natural inclination to sadness. I actually believe that I was born with a positive mindset that has since been nurtured into a moderately hyperactive, grateful, curious and complacent adult personality. My semi-inherent and semi-acquired Pollyannaism however, is not expressed through sporadic pleasure seeks but is actually the product of a step by step project I undertook a couple of years ago.
I was brought up between two national mentalities: that of the United States and that of Europe, being born in Greece. In both continents -- and countries, I found a consistent approach to the concept of Happiness. Happiness, people would tell me, is the negation of unhappiness. Happiness is the lack of sadness. It is a negative sadness. And sadness is a negative happiness. Two states of mind and soul, inextricably bound one to another.
However precise and easy to grasp, these definitions were rather grounding to my teenage and evolving aura. Even more so, they constructed a concept doomed to be inapplicable in my life of spontaneous giggles and zeal for adventure. It is not that I did not go through times of sadness. It is just that my happiness-famine could not be sated or tempered for a specific period of time -- until sadness faded away.
Growing up, I felt obliged to make a decision between these two states: I would either be sad and be entirely sad or I would be happy and be entirely happy. There was no percentage distribution acceptable when facing a bipolar choice: It was either Happiness or Sadness, never both.
Unable to make a choice and feeling facetious when condemning myself for finding sources of joy in times of unfortunate events, I decided to take a step back from unofficial orders of social conduct and to draw a distinctive line between Happiness and Sadness. I decided to word two new definitions of these feelings but this time without using one to describe the other.
From that moment on, I put together a 5 rule index to live by, in pursuit of Happiness in a world of ample triggers of Sadness. Working on the concepts of Failure and Success and through my online trainings for people to turn setbacks into potential through my Today I Failed At Facebook page, the positive effects of Happiness in one's journey to self-fulfillment have been proven undeniable. This is why I decided to share them here:
1) Happiness and Sadness are two separate senses that can in fact co-exist. You can be sad about an F on a math test but you have to encourage yourself to be happy about your date to the prom
2) Happiness is not the negation of Sadness and Sadness is not the negation of Happiness. Human feelings, as is human nature, are much more complex than an either/or simplification. Don't look for clean cut answers
3) You are under no obligation to be consistent when it comes to how you feel. Celebrate your mood swings and never explain yourself for trying to brush off negative vibes
4) Moments of Happiness in life are few and fleeting. Seize them unapologetically and claim a taste of eudaimonia
5) People wont be drawn to you more if you appear to be sad. Yes, some do empathize with you and want to alleviate your sadness when you are in pain but is this really the way that you wish to attract others? Don't always present yourself pitiful out of fear of losing help and support. Find the turning points and be positive when you get a chance. Inspire your friends and keep them through a contagious state of optimism. Be a fountain, not a drain. People stay with them who are positive
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