In defense of misery

There are an astonishing number of people in the U.S. on anti-depressant medication. There are a lot of positivity blogs out there. We've covered choosing your attitude here. There are even whole businesses dedicated to making you feel better through smiling.

Often, that positive face we put is just that – putting on a face. We sell it to ourselves as much as we sell it to others.

But we're not always happy. In fact, I think we're typically not happy: I'm betting our default feelings are somewhere between bored and content with a bit of annoyed thrown in.

Happy is further up on the spectrum, and it's the end of the spectrum we prefer to interact with people on.

There's that other end of the spectrum, though, and I think it's really useful. Let's talk about that other end for a moment.

Misery. Heartbreak. Devastation. These are really useful feelings.

They are feelings that spur people to action. They drive creativity. They drive motivation. They drive an attitude of TURN IT AROUND. Happiness just drives an attitude of maintenance. If you're there, you want to stay that way. If you're miserable, you want to get out of it.

The next time you're miserable, feed off of it. Rather than getting out of it as quickly as you can and maybe faking your way to happy – when, inevitably, you're going to just crash back down – figure out what you need to shake the misery. Put a plan together. Grow out of it. Understand it may not happen overnight. In fact, it may happen so slowly you didn't notice stops along the way. But it's a sustainable way to shake it.

Embrace where you are, not where you wish you could be. You'll get there. Just know it'll take work.

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