Should we try to be happy?

No, we shouldn’t try to be happy.

What does it mean to ‘try to be happy’? To ignore our dark feelings and pretend they aren’t there? Replace them with ‘happy thoughts’, or a happy disposition?  Of course not.  We can’t simply flick a switch and ‘be happy’. To think that is naive and simplistic.

Instead of trying to manufacture an emotion we don’t have, we need to deal with the dark emotions we do have. Those dark emotions are there for a reason, and when we get good at responding to them we gain the feeling that we can handle life. Then core happiness comes.

But ‘trying to be happy’ is a step in the wrong direction.  If we try to be happy by ignoring our dark feelings, those dark feelings squeeze out in other ways. (If a person is envious, but not aware of it, they might become resentful. If a person is fearful, but not aware of it, they might become prejudiced.) When we cease to be aware of our emotions they will lead us.

If a well-meaning person tells you to ‘try to be happy‘, dismiss the advice.

But can we aim to be happy?