Happiness is not painless

The concept that anxiety, depression, frustration, sadness and shame are negative outcomes of bad mental health is a linear and not complete picture of the human emotional process. Yes these are painful manifestations, but it is not our pain that makes us sick. In fact, pain can be fuel for the internal and social processing that allows us to build self-worth, build self-esteem and build relationship intimacy. The dysfunction from pain comes when our feelings are not processed appropriately, when they are left to ferment in the human mind, and when our behaviors function to avoid pain, but not nurture the pained individual. When you think about it, the times that families and friends bond the most are when they are facing adversity or tragedy together. That is when there is the most opportunity to exchange energy and feel intimacy. Happiness is not the absence of pain. And yet we confuse lack of conflict with relationship happiness. A relationship that is void of conflict and pain is void of relational energy exchange, and therefore is most weak. This is not to say that couples and families who fight the most are the most healthy, but rather that having a certain amount of adversity and contention can be the fuel for the relational energy exchange that families and couples need. This contention also sometimes reflects a couple’s willingness to share feelings and thoughts, instead of repressing opinions so that the peace can be kept. It is whether or not we are on the same side of this adversity which determines whether the adversity will make us stronger or weaker.

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