“Sadness is poetic; you’re lucky to live sad moments… Because when you let yourself feel completely sad, your body has like antibodies, it has happiness that comes rushing in to meet the sadness. So I was grateful to feel sad, and then I met it with true profound happiness… The thing is because we don’t want that first bit of sad, we push it away with a little phone, or jerking off, or food… You never feel completely sad or completely happy.” – Louis CK
Louis CK is one of my all-time favorite comedians, not just because of his hilarious observational comedy and timing, but because he gets fucking real about important stuff. He knows he has a platform to speak on, and I respect him so much for using that to talk about important issues so often. I was particularly moved by this mini speech he did on Conan which is quoted above. He’s so right.
The thing is, happiness might not actually be 24/7 like the above photo might imply, but it is technically available 24/7. The important thing to remember is that we don’t need to experience happiness 24/7 in order to have a good, healthy, and fulfilling life. Sadness, fear, and anger are just as important as happiness in our world of emotions. And if you don’t allow yourself to experience one or any of them fully, to completely immerse yourself in that feeling for however long it takes hold of you, you’re going to have a hard time doing it with any other emotion, including happiness.
As a generally happy, positive person, this past summer has been kind of jarring to me. I really needed to remind myself of these facts as I struggled with depression, got diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, and had to start an additional medication. Depression takes hold of us and we feel out of control of our mood, feelings, and destiny. It’s okay to feel out of control for a while.
The good news is we also have control to say, “Hey Depression! I want and deserve to be happy, so maybe you should sit in the backseat for now while I drive“. And then you take the wheel and fill your life with things that have served you joy in the past. For me some surefire things that usually get me out of a funk or at least put me in a better mood are * Getting out of the house, driving around, and exploring * Collaging/mixed media, like in my art journal * Talking to a friend, especially in person * Taking photos/having a photoshoot * Installing guerrilla art on the street.
I simultaneously believe that happiness is a conscious choice and depression (and all mental illness) is not. We can’t “shake off” clinical depression as easily as someone might have you think, but if you want to be happy you also have to make a decision that you’re going to do your best to fill your life with things, people, and places that make you happy. But remember that we should feel grateful for all our emotions, even the “negative” ones, if only because they will help us to experience pure, unadulterated happiness in the future.