X: What’s up?
Me: Excellent, thanks!
X makes a wry face…
X: What is this? Are we going to talk like Americans now? I know that you travel a lot and you feel like a citizen of the world, but you don’t have to be so rough with me
Me: But I’m really feeling great NOW
X: Fine, suit yourself
X grimaces again and looks at me with disbelief, to say the least.
I felt an irresistible urge to explain myself. I felt that it’s not ok when it’s ok and that I have to straighten this out immediately so as not to make her think that I’m lying or, God forbid, that I always feel great…
Me: I’m not always like that, seriously. But since you’re asking me now, then I’m honestly telling you, in a totally non-American fashion, that things are great. I’m having a great time at work. Thing are perfect in my private life. Everything is cool with friends as well. I honestly cannot say a single bad thing about my life now. And we’re talking about the here and now, not generally, right?
X seemed to calm down a bit and the frown on her forehead became a lot smaller.
X: All right, all right… I’m not doing that bad either. I bought a house just outside of Warsaw, a big one with a garden. At work everything has been quite ok, too
Me: So you’re doing great too – congratulations!
X: Let’s not exaggerate, it’s not great, just ok
I really have no idea what to think in such situations. I’m TERRIBLE at hiding my emotions. If things are great, I feel great. If they’re terrible you don’t even need to ask – it’s enough to take a look. Often things are terrible, tragic and bad. And then they are bearable and you can move on. There appears hope and finally everything is quite well, terrific, great and marvellous and I’m super happy and silent…, since excess joy makes it impossible for me to make any sound.
To prove that I’m unable to speak when I’m happy I’m showing you pictures from the moments when I had endorphins running in my veins instead of blood.
Sometime ago some psychologist ruminated on the issue of happiness and it turned out that there are much more analyses of misery, tragedy, depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts than those devoted to joy. There were as many texts on the topic of feeling good, causes thereof and the positive aspects of feeling good as puddles on the desert two hours after the rain. Because when we are happy, well… we just are. There is no point in deliberating and wondering – we only care not to lose it. In such moments it’s our only, though pretty big, concern.
When things are bad, however, the situation is ambiguous and requires some deeper analysis. Theoretically, we want to get out of it. In truth, however, it’s not necessarily so. In psychology there is the notion of secondary benefit from illness. Every child knows very well what it is – when they’re sick and unhappy, the always busy mom stays at home and the child has her all for themselves. Additionally, there is the bonus of not having to go to school and if they make a sad puppy face they will receive gratuitous heaps of sweets that they would never get in other circumstances.On one hand the child wants to get well and on the other it sees that it’s not necessarily the most profitable thing to do. With time they become an adult and in a more or less subconscious way they know that when they’re sick, they receive more attention. If they’re unhappy, they receive more care and kindness. If they fail at something, everyone comforts them, says compliments and keeps their fingers crossed for them. That’s, of course, a simplified picture, a sort of psychology-lite, because this matter is actually quite serious and complex.
Usually, everything happens beyond the limits of our consciousness. And this means that the chances for changing that situation are pretty slim. It also explains to a large extent the number of self-help books on the market. If someone buys one of them, they end up buying the whole shelf. They believe they help, but the one they actually bought is not that good at it, so maybe next one will, and if not, then the next one, then maybe another one, and so on…
Obviously sometimes there are no benefits at all. Sometimes everything really falls apart.Sometimes the misery is honest and huge and we can’t cope with it. Some other times it’s subtle, but as tiring as a toothache.We’re simply miserable in this world. It’s good when there is some good or, at least, big reason for it. It’s worse when there isn’t. Sometimes we just feel awkward in this world and we don’t feel happy when looking through the window. We are covered in some unidentified gloom. Depression, a disease, the most severe of the emotional misery conditions, has a single awesome characteristic. IT PASSES. Sometimes it takes a while, sometimes you need help, but in the end it passes. It’s a condition that is usually, if not always, curable.
And you know what is the worse thing for people suffering from it? The anxiety after getting well. Depression is like emotional alcoholism. Even if you don’t drink anymore, you remain an alcoholic until you die. You need to remain careful for the rest of your days. That is why people, when they feel unhappy, sometimes prefer:
– Not to jinx it, because, „as everyone knows, people are jealous”. If someone is doing good, we don’t have the tendency to wish him that it stays that way.
– They don’t want to look foolish when the sadness returns – and it surely will. Why? Because life is like a fairy tale – first it’s good, then it’s worse and some Prince Charming saves you only so that the dragon can kidnap you again and force you to marry him.We tread carefully on our happiness, just in case. We walk around it on our toes as if it was a toddler – so as not to wake it up or irritate it. All of it just to make sure that it doesn’t go away. In any case, it’s better not to talk about it at all and not to admit that you’re happy. It’s better to say that things are just “OK” even when they are good, or that “life sucks” when things get a little tough.
If I tell everyone how bad my life is, I think it’s equally alright to tell them how great it is. If people support me and care about me when I want to jump out of a window, I think that I ought to share happiness with them as well in times when I want to bring everyone a star from the night sky. In order to maintain balance and to be fair, one should share both happiness and unhappiness. That’s what I think. Therefore I don’t know how to behave when somebody thinks different. I have a feeling that some people DO NOT WANT to share their joy. They simply cannot find their place in such situation. When it’s bad, it’s great. They know how to help, support and comfort you, they can give you a handkerchief, wipe the tears from your eyes and pat you on the head. But when suddenly things are good, there comes an awkward silence and no one knows what to do with their hands and words. So what? What does it mean, exactly? What am I supposed to do? How to react? Am I supposed to feel great too? Is that true? Or it it simply Americanization?
I love it when things are great for somebody. I feel sorry when they’re bad. But from the point of view of a meeting - it is neither good or bad if somebody is doing great or not-so-great. What matters is a meeting of two people, that is, learning the truth, true emotions, true joy, sadness, rapture, love and happiness.
And when you don’t know how to behave, the only thing you can is to be honest. Even if it means saying: Hey, I don’t know how I should behave!
Pictures from unhappy moments – but that’s another story, one to be told later.