How the Philosophy of ‘Good Vibes Only’ is Ruining the Human Experience

Open up any of your social media apps and you’re instantly bombarded with friends, family, and influencers peddling positive affirmations like, “You attract what you are, not what you want. If you want great then be great.”

How does that make you feel?

I’m going to take a wild guess — It makes you feel like you’re not good enough, happy enough, doing enough in your life to achieve such a state of perfect, harmonial bliss with your Creator or energy fields or Universe or whatever else, right? Did you sprain your eyes from rolling so hard that you ended up in the ER? Yes? Yes.

There are literally countless articles, inspirational/aspirational photos, quotes, memes, “studies” on maintaining a positive outlook and attitude as we glide through life.

Even I have attempted to forge my way through periods of existence on this floating rock thing chasing whatever ‘happy’ is .

How can I be happier? How can I achieve a more positive attitude at all points in the day? How can I attract good things into my life? If I meditate on happiness, will it make me happier? What is happiness? Can I just be positive 100% of the goddamn time?!

The reality of this is that most people aren’t gliding through life enrobed in some rose-tinted bubble of ‘happy’. Even those influencers you see selling god knows what kind of “detox tea” have crappy days — P.S., detox teas are a scam, stop buying them. Some of them aren’t even happy people like they pretend to be and we’re over here eating it up like it’s the sweetest tasting shit we’ve ever had. Why? Because we’ve gotten to such a toxic place in our world where we want life to be better than it is. We want to outrun the negative and the bad like they aren’t regular emotions to experience.

If I repeat this positive mantra all day today, all week, all month, all year, I will have a better life!

It’s easy to feel extremely positive when you have a lot of positive things going for you; you’re being told, unconsciously, that you are of value. But when you continuously step in proverbial shit, you’re told that you aren’t (of value). That adds up over time. Think of your outlook as a scale: the more positive things that happen, the more positive you are. See? Isn’t life amazing! Look at my bounty.

On the flip side, the more negative things that happen to you, the scale is obviously going to tip in that direction, often times whether you like it or not. You can be doing your very best to “put positivity out into the Universe”, but that’s a mental placebo that doesn’t get you anywhere if the scale isn’t already tipped in your favor. Your personal value lessens and you “agree” that maybe your life isn’t as valuable as that other person’s highlight reel you see on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat or the TikToks.

The thing I have learned in my personal journey to chase happiness and then being in The Dark Place for a very, very long time is that happiness isn’t the end-all be-all we expect it to be. We, as humans, need to be allowed (because it often feels like we aren’t) to have our full human experience and that includes a wide array of emotions — let’s call this our ‘Emotional Rainbow’.

Our ‘Emotional Rainbow’ ebbs and flows. It’s brighter when things are going well for us and it’s dimmer when things aren’t; but the rainbow is always there. It is always beautiful and beckoning us to keep going even in our darkest hour(s).

You see, our emotions are varied and vast and extraordinarily complicated. The basis for our reactions to/with them stem from infancy (see ‘attachment styles’) and from how things were handled for us as children. We model behavior and emotions from our caretakers. This isn’t to say that our parents are/were terrible people (of course not! Unless they were truly horrific people, so who am I really to say here?), but we all carry the baggage of those before us, and those before them, and so on and so forth.

It isn’t until we ‘wake up’ and start to parse through and understand why we behave the way we do and why we react the way we react when certain emotions creep up (or jump up) in our face.

To be accepted in society, we have been taught to bury the negative emotions we have, things like anger, frustration, sadness, etc, but by pushing those innate emotions deeper and deeper down into the well of our soul we are hurting ourselves in innumerable ways. We’re hurting ourselves because we aren’t able to grow and form healthy, stable relationships that don’t involve those negative emotions leaking out into yelling and screaming fights, shaming and guilting, or any other type of passive aggressive behavior you could possibly think of.

If you feel yourself starting to get defensive, this probably applies to you and that’s OKAY! It applied to me, too. You are not alone. It applies to pretty much everyone, and the fact that society tells us we aren’t allowed to experience all the emotions in our ‘Emotional Rainbow’ kind of feels like bullshit.

If you don’t know or understand what sadness or anger or frustration are, how do you even know when you feel happy? It’s almost like being able to actually feel and process the whole of our human experience on an emotional scale allows us to, GASP, maybe relate to each other better and with more humility and empathy? And maybe allows us to form a sense of self-worth in owning who we are as people?

It does.

Instead, I chase what I like to call ‘Joy Pockets’ and feed those to my ‘Emotional Rainbow’. Joy is different. It’s those little pockets of glee that make your heart explode from goodness or make you smile from ear to ear — not an entire emotional state of being.

Happiness is an ever-evolving state of mind and emotional state of being. Find things that bring you moments of joy and then keep following those. Feel your feels; let the ‘Emotional Rainbow’ eb and flow. No one really knows what the hell they’re doing out there anyways.

So, here are a few things you should do to create a feeling of ‘self worth’ which will then translate to ‘happiness’ and whatever that means to you:

  1. Stop reading articles/blogs telling you what to do to achieve happiness; and then —
  2. Do what makes YOU feel good (as long as you are not hurting anyone else, obvi).

Yeah. That’s it. Stop paying attention to the media and all of it’s “Be happy! Good vibes only” bull shit. What works for one person might not work for you, and vice versa. Don’t get stuck trying to recreate someone else’s story. You don’t have to know how to achieve happiness, you just have to be open for possibilities of it in life.

Writer. Actor. Poet. Human. Contact: bethnintzel@gmail.com

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