You can’t surf far on the web before hitting a wave of posts about positivity. Whether it’s: “5 Ways to be More Positive” or “Why Positive People are More Successful”, there’s not much in the way of escaping them! When you’re feeling super motivated and ready to up your level of mindful living, these are great! On the other hand, when you’re having a bad day and you feel overwhelmed, is this newfound pressure to be constantly happy proving to be too much? And are there ever times when trying too hard to be positive can actually make us unhappy? It’s an interesting question that I thought I’d explore…
Are Millennials Under Too Much Pressure to Be Perfect?
With 6 out of 10 millennials saying that they can never relax, are millennials under too much pressure to be perfect? The question of whether ‘trying too hard to be happy is making us feel depressed’ is aimed at everybody, but it appears to be affecting millennials the most. The 90s, to a certain degree, doesn’t seem that long ago, but life couldn’t be more different. The millennials are considered the changemakers of the world. Old enough to have experienced pre-tech life as children, but young enough to adapt to new ideas about life and the world. It can appear as though for the most part, pressure falls upon millennials to save the planet, combat climate change, and familiarise themselves with political issues. This is additional to their own personal accomplishments that they’re expected to achieve before turning 30!
Speaking as a millennial myself, I often wonder whether we can actually learn something from the carefree decade that was the 1990s? Camera phones didn’t exist and capturing every detail of your daily life in photographs wasn’t a priority anyway. Since my mid-teens, my life and my relationship with the online world have been somewhat unconventional compared to my peers, so rarely have I succumbed to similar pressures that fellow millennials face. However, I am involved enough to notice the pressure to: build “a six-figure monthly income”, workout several times a week at the gym, maintain a diet of Instagram cliches such as avocado on toast, as well as pulling in time for family life, activism work, and personal development! The pressure on young people to live this seemingly over edited life is immense! Rarely do I see anybody willingly open to admit failure or defeat because it goes against everything they’ve read in personal development books. But instead, why not wander your own path bearing the words a wise writer once wrote:
“It is impossible to live without failing at something…unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all.”
The Power of Positivity
We all know that being positive can lead to a happy, more successful, and healthier life. Being genuinely positive or pushing ourselves slightly to reposition our thoughts and rethink our mindsets is a beneficial ability that’s certainly worth mastering. Yet, there are times when even the happiest and most optimistic individuals can experience a bad day or struggle to cope with certain circumstances in their lives. It’s not that there isn’t a cure or a way out of negative emotions evoked by most issues in life, but emotions are emotions and sometimes they just need to be experienced before we decide what to do with them. Everyone has good days and bad days. But it’s not always about trying too hard to appear falsely happy; the more important way of behaving is by learning to manage your emotions rationally. Trying to be positive when it feels like the most unnatural thing to do and then consequently failing to portray a happy persona, can just make us feel more inadequate and can even damage our self-esteem.
Can Trying Too Hard to Be Happy All the Time Lead to Depression?
One bad day doesn’t necessarily mean you have full-on depression. Feeling negative or sad emotions, suffering the anguish of loss or grief isn’t always a bad thing and again, it doesn’t automatically mean you have depression. The increase in campaigns and information, raising awareness for mental health is fantastic, but sometimes it can lead people to believe that if you’re not feeling one hundred per cent on any given day, you must immediately book yourself an appointment with your doctor to discuss your state of anxiety and depression. The truth is that depression isn’t defined by feeling sad or extreme emotions; it’s the absence of emotion which actually causes you to feel very little.
Depression, in most cases, isn’t the emotions you feel or the tears you cry, but the negative thoughts your brain is telling you. The reality of depression is that it prevents you from doing normal things, which is clearly quite the opposite of feeling emotional – be it overly positive or negative. If you experience one bad day, don’t burden yourself with the worry that you might be suffering from depression. A bad day doesn’t equate to a bad life. If it becomes a state of mind and something of an everyday reality for you then perhaps it is time to seek professional advice.
The Benefits of Experiencing Different Emotions
Essentially, we all want to be happy and feel positive for as long as the feeling withstands. But as human beings facing the difficulties and hardships that daily life throws at us, this isn’t always a viable reality. Sadness, grief, heartbreak, are not emotions that anyone ever desires to feel, but only when we’ve felt opposing emotions can we truly appreciate and understand positive emotions. It’s healthy to feel relevant emotions at appropriate times. It only becomes a problem when your emotions are misaligned to the situations you’re experiencing. Sometimes, I can’t help but feel that all this talk about mental health awareness and the focus on being positive all of the time, is leading people to believe that they need to overcome negative emotions as quickly as possible. The tone of some articles even sounds as though they are insinuating that you’re weak to grieve or worry or feel saddened for whatever reason. Bottling up emotions in a bid to quickly regain a positive state of mind is far more likely to cause mental health issues than experiencing these natural emotions in the first place! Never feel pressured to meet somebody else’s ideal or image of perfection!
Strive to Be the Best Version of Yourself – Always!
To sum up, if you’re struggling to get motivated, sometimes you do need to push on and up your game. If the pressure you’re putting on yourself is making you miserable then stop! The only right answer here is to always be the best version of yourself.