When My Daughter Asked, 'Mommy, Are You Happy?'

by Taylor Carr
Originally Published: 
A woman curled up in the corner in black and white with red illustrated asymmetric geometrical shape...
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My daughter casually asked me this the other week, after I broke down crying on the kitchen floor. Naturally, a series of complex thoughts and feelings flooded my mind soon after.

I still don’t quite understand it. It’s weird, that a question like that can trigger a philosophical inquiry — and the key component that generates the investigation is the word “happy.”

When you ask people if they are sad or mad, it’s easy for them to reply with conviction. They don’t linger in thought about it and look to the stars, because they know that these are temporary feelings and emotions — they come and go just as easily as the wind.

So why has happiness turned into something larger? Why is there this common and often heavy expectation that we should be experiencing this feeling almost always?

I think that happiness actually sits in the exact same boat as the other emotions. It is limited and transient, and I feel like when we don’t view it that way, we are doing ourselves a disservice.

Experiencing and working through all of our emotions — the good, the bad and the ugly — is key. Holding things in and not being truthful with ourselves can just make things more messy and confusing.

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Of course, one’s mental health should never be taken lightly so if you suspect something is ‘off,’ please see a mental health professional. And if you are persistently unhappy as a result of a toxic relationship, you are never expected to tolerate pain or abuse.

The truth is, I have gone through many different types of ups and downs in my life. Some of them have been incredibly bright, lifting me right off my feet, and some have lowered me down into the depths and been darker and colder then I could have ever imagined.

Alongside all my other emotions, anger, sadness and happiness have all taken their turns in the driver’s seat. At times, weeks can go by; other times, months, and sometimes even years before something shifts or changes. But this doesn’t mean I’m not “okay.”

I think we need to stop worrying about being happy all the time. It’s just not realistic. If we are always growing and changing — which I hope I always am — then we need the hard, we need the struggle and we most definitely need the experiences.

A better question we need to ask ourselves is, are we okay? Are we managing the load we currently have? Are we keeping our heads above water? Are we finding our path through the struggle? And are we learning along the way?

It’s not like happiness doesn’t come to visit me, it most certainly does — some days more than others. It can drop in unexpectedly and leave just as quickly, but it can also linger and wallow.

So yes, I am happy from time to time … but I’m also mad, and sad, fearful, excited, anxious, and content. And through it all? I am definitely okay. For the most part, I’m okay. And that is something that deserves to be celebrated.

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