Late last year after I gave birth to our second daughter, I was having a conversation with my doula that turned philosophical (big life changes have a way of bringing out my inner Socrates). She said that here in the West, we have gotten so accustomed to easy lives of comfort that we feel entitled to happiness and chase it obsessively. We hide from pain, avoid discomfort, rush through difficulty, try to wish away anything that feels awkward.
But what if we let go of the pursuit of happiness, and chased something deeper instead? What if we traded happiness for aliveness?
Because we all know happiness can be elusive. And the world doesn’t owe us anything. Reality takes liberties with our dreams. Life doesn’t conform to our plans. And over and over, because that is just how it is, we face set backs and challenges, and choppy waters and all manner of things that don’t go our way.
But truly feeling the feels, letting it be okay when things are not okay, accepting the downs with the ups, that is being alive. And by choosing to embrace aliveness, we can find meaning in the “stuff” that makes us unhappy and infuse even the hardest times in our lives with purpose and energy. And we can let ourselves experience the toughness – learn from it, grow from it, become more resilient from it – instead of always rushing to escape from it.
By embracing aliveness – and all the good, bad, and ugly that comes with it – we can find power and strength in ourselves that we may not have known was there if we had only ever forced the happiness agenda.