Mindfulness Personal Growth Relationships

Chasing The Elusive “Happiness”

July 10, 2018

“choose happy”

“be love”

“do you” (followed by something dismissive/disregarding of how it may affect those around you)

“if it doesn’t serve you, let it go”

“more is better”

“grass is greener”

“good vibes only”

In our modern day culture, we have been taught to find all of the answers behind a screen. We want to have it all. Shiny pictures and memes tell us all the things we think we need to do now. We have lost our internal compass-our intuition. We are afraid of feeling anything but happiness, newness, and excitement. We think we have to do everything, be everything, and show the world all of our “bigness.”

The word ‘spirituality’ is thrown around without really a deep understanding of what it truly means to nurture our spirit within, whatever our beliefs may be. Regardless of what we believe in, we are each on own personal journal, yet we are all connected to each other. We often forget the all connected part, and our spirituality becomes ego, me, self, and something big to show off. 

We have lost compromise, connectedness, push and pull, give and take. We have gained a culture of me. me. me.

‘Choose happy’ and better things will come into your life very in right now. This typically comes along with shiny smiling filtered Instagram selfies. We have grown to believe that beauty and perfection = love. This is fun, and showy, and can make those of us who are still finding our way spiritually feel like we missed a big boat here. The truth is, you did not miss any boat. There are several things with this concept that are not serving us to truly grow together as spiritual people, no matter what our beliefs may be surrounding spirituality and religion.

The first issue is that we are chasing after the illusion of happiness, and associating spirituality with happiness. We forget that all the emotions that make us human are important to feel and experience. Even the real difficult emotions guide us to where we need to be. Spirituality is an outlet for us to find connection within each other, an outlet serving all of our feelings and emotions, it is a place of peace and understanding and love. The ying and a yang, light and dark, beautiful yet chaotic. Spirituality is a journey of discovering what resonates best in your world, so you can better serve as part of a community and an integral part of the world. In modern times, we’ve made spirituality all about ego and self.

The western version of spirituality/personal development has a dark side.

Avoidance of feeling anything other than ‘happy’ leaves you feeling wrong, bad, or ‘not spiritual enough’ if you get angry, sad, insecure, or feel any other dark emotion that tries to surface. This leads to stifling and avoidance of our moods and emotions. We have been led to believe there is something inherently wrong with us if we are not happy all the time, and therefore we must escape our lives and seek something new. We seek out medications, distractions, anything to not feel. We hide behind a screen, a device, where it’s safer and easier to interact with people, and we don’t have to dive too deep or expose too many layers.


Do you find yourself judging people who express anger or fear? Did you know that anger is a natural human emotion and a perfectly justifiable response to many situations? We think of anger as bad or wrong, but it is a completely normal human emotion. Repressing your emotions so you can remain spiritual, leads to inauthenticity, disordered thinking, and lack of true self-perception.

We’ve grown to believe fear = poison.

Fear and anger have grown with us as a way to process experiences and learn from them-a way to work through chaotic times and find equilibrium in our lives. These emotions are here to serve us in a very loving way. The modern human mind has grown to believe that there is something wrong and bad with these essential elements of emotion. We are disregarding ourselves and those we love  because we have been taught to believe these pieces of our core selves to be poisonous. We are disregarding and dismissing that which we feel to be too ugly to face.

We are lying to ourselves, and those around us, in order to be ‘spiritual enough’. Staying positive all the time just buries feelings you will eventually have to deal with. You are here right now on this planet as a human. An imperfect human, not Buddha. Do I advocate sitting in misery all the time? No. I advocate feeling the F%$# out of these negative emotions when they arise and talking them through so you can truly learn from what is coming up, heal, and let go. Then feeling happy, ‘spiritual’, and at peace with your surroundings doesn’t become such a difficult task. And it’s legit, not pretending to be happy even when you aren’t, and hoping your brain will somehow rewire itself. You can not feel and process the shitty things if you are putting your rosy glasses on 24/7.

Life not always rainbows and unicorns and sunshine, beachy wavy hair sunset selfies, perfect smiles, and perfect bodies, and that’s what makes it so amazing. Life is messy, wherever you find yourself. 

We forget that all the emotions that make us human are important to feel and experience. That we do not always get to choose how we feel each moment, we can only choose how we respond to, and work through our feelings. All of our feelings are here to serve us, not just happy. Happy is fun to feel, and fun to chase, temporarily. However, if we avoid feeling anything else we will spend our lives chasing, rather than being.

This ‘chasing of happy’ is creating a very sad, lonely culture. Because we are letting go and giving up on each other at the time when we could have the greatest breakthroughs if we were willing to face the hard stuff. Happiness means finding joy in what we have. Our real, in-person relationships. Even the yucky stuff. The hard stuff. The day to day stuff. And the things that just are not pretty behind a filtered screen.

We believe if we search hard enough, we will find something or someone that will bring us the ultimate happiness. You take your same shitstorm with you wherever you go. The secret that none of us know (because we are too busy chasing the elusive happy) is that if we work on charging full force into our pain and ‘feeling all of the feels’, and learn to love the lives we have created through our beautiful truths-this will open the door for so much more joy and greater life experiences. More intense, deeper and meaningful connections. This is the answer.


  • Reply
    Cliff Etzel
    October 13, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Kathryn, You have no idea as a 56yo male INFJ how much I needed this right now! I was in a relationship with someone who basically said she couldn’t handle the fact that I wasn’t constantly happy, practicing gratitude, blah blah blah. (Try being an INFJ is all I could think) Yet she constantly was posting selfies or other images on social media of how spiritual she was, constantly trying to convince others how “enlightened” she was becoming, It seemed very inauthentic, pseudo-spiritual.

    That’s not to say I’m not working on myself. We all should be compelled to be authentically healthier in all aspects of our lives. It’s this weird new age self indulgent mish mash of cherry picked belief systems that have been morphed into something that seems… fake

    The pragmatic aspect of this is learning to not judge ourselves for actually feeling those so called dark or shadow sides of ourselves (Especially for males in our culture). Too many self important new age types aren’t willing to get emotionally honest with themselves… or others. They end up doing alot of harm out of ego. My motto in life and in my creative work as a photographer: “Be Authentic, Be Real… and Don’t let the unrealistic expectation of perfection get in the way of good enough”

    We don’t have to be perfect – embrace our being perfectly imperfect – and don’t let someone else tell you otherwise.

    Thank you for posting this – It’s been a difficult time recently after the recent break up and now I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    • Reply
      Kathryn Kos
      October 13, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      Thank you for sharing Cliff! I am hearing this from many people, not just you! I too have experienced it first hand, and I learned so much from this experience. It’s a real cultural issue and I plan to do much more writing on this! 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.