Is it okay to want to be happy?

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    I’ve had anxiety and depression all my life. I’ve tried everything under the sun but the bottom line is that I’m just not a happy person. I want to be so badly, but is it fair of me to want that when there are SO MANY out there really suffering – from terrrible illness, homelessnes, addiction, war? I have so much guilt because I actually have a pretty good life – happily married, employeed, have a house, a wonderful son, parents, etc. There’s no reason for me to be so unhappy except that it runs in my family and I’m an introverted empath. I feel like a horrible person.


    Dear Kodi

    All beings want happiness and the freedom from suffering is the fundamental Buddhist teaching and the 8 fold path is the journey we can take to get us there.  The Aryuvedic system of medicine looks at the person as a whole and seeks to balance our systems that is in harmony with our dosha stlye.

    I wonder what kinds of narrative runs thru your conscious and do you believe everything you think?

    If possible can you expound what a horrible person feels like to you ie heavy hot tight.

    Adding guilt about the things that are good in your life is like drinking poison, where as, appreciation is like ingesting a  healthy tonic. it is your choice which bottle you choose to drink from, as you become more mindful of things moment to moment seeing that you do have choice will be easier to see & that in itself is empowering.

    So I am guessing that an introverted empath needs to be around quieter, gentler,  joyful people and a slower more natural lifestyle to help them flourish?


    Hi Kodi

    Is it ok to want to be happy?  Is it ok to want to be unhappy? Yes

    I sometimes wonder if part of the problem with the notion of happiness is thinking happiness is a Yes OR No questions.

    I also struggle with anxiety and the notion of happiness. Sometimes I find myself anxious about being anxious, unhappy about being unhappy, almost as if some shadow part of myself is happy about being be anxious and unhappy.  To be candid I’m not sure I know what it would feel like not to be anxious and I wonder if my body has adapted to expect and even look for ways to be anxious. I’m very good at being anxious.

    As a fellow introvert and sensitive person my observation has been that I’m more likely to feel the ‘negative’ emotions of those around the me and mistake them for may own. Sadly for reasons I don’t fully understand the same is not always true for ‘positive’ emotions of those around me. Not that I don’t experience others joy when I’m around others that are happy but in this case I tend not to think of those emotions as mine. Why is it ok to take on the experiences of the negative as our own but not the positive?

    I think when it comes to happiness were really, really, really bad at measuring and labeling. And maybe that’s the problem. Maybe happiness isn’t something to be measured, labeled or even created (which is a sure fire way of missing it). Maybe its something intended as moments to be experienced and surprised by?

    Joseph Campbell writing about the Hero’s response to the question of “Life as it is”, is that we are all called to “Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. The warrior’s approach is to say “yes” to life: “yea” to it all“.  Yes to it ‘ALL’

    Can we learn to love the things we most wish had never happened? Can we really become grateful for grief? Heartbreak? The deaths of loved ones? Can we experience moments of happiness in a world filled with unhappiness? The Hero says Yes. This is not some Pollyanna Yes, this is a Yes that taste and ‘knows’ the bitter and the sweet.

    Lots of books, articles… lots of words on the subject, lots of advice, yet I think the answer is not in words but silent, stillness. Motion is time creating life, Stillness eternity creating Love… “to be Still yet Still Moving that is everything” Everything arises from and returning to Stillness, Love, Eternity…. Nothing is born, nothing lost… nothing found, nothing attained, it is always now… always now.

    A tree’s movement in the wind, leaves swaying on its branch’s taking in the suns warmth, blue sky, soft clouds flowing by, a  child on a swing tied to a branch, laughing, crying out, again, again, push me again…. Should we measure and label such a moment and weigh it against others moments. Can we, should we even try to separate the tree, from the sun, from  the wind, from the leaves, from the child…from the moments when the sun isn’t shining or the sky blue?




    Hi Kodi

    I’m sorry to hear that you’ve experienced anxiety and depression for your whole life. It seems that it running in the family might be a reason why you feel this way, I think that’s enough of a reason.

    I’m glad that you have many good things in your life. I doubt that you are terrible person. You sound like you have a lot of care and empathy for others. That means that you are a good person. You deserve to have good things in your life! ❤️

    Please feel free to share your thoughts.

    Wishing you all the best! 🙏


    Hi Kodi,

    Depression in my life is a lack of actions, do stuff.  It is a lack of purpose do stuff for people, animals or the environment.

    It’s ok to need other people to create the momentum for you, join others often anywhere any time.  Get involved.

    You may find doing things moment by moment, day by day & joining something or someone, will carry you up from your low moods, don’t think of it as all or nothing for happiness.  Also being grateful goes a long way to boost your mood.  Good luck, T


    Hi Kodi,

    yes, it is perfectly okay to want to be happy, even if there is so much suffering out there in the world. It’s a natural drive of each person, but sometimes this drive is blocked. One reason is that we feel guilty if we’re happy, because e.g. our parents weren’t happy and we felt sorry for them and their suffering.

    You said anxiety and depression run in your family, which is a quite possible reason why you’re suffering from it too. For example, if we have a depressed mother, we naturally want to make her happy and do everything in our power to help her. But we inevitably fail, because it’s a problem that we didn’t cause and that we as a child cannot solve. And because we fail to make our depressed parent happy, we start feeling bad about ourselves, because we believe we’re not good enough or worthy enough – again, blaming ourselves for our parent’s condition.

    Also, if our parent is anxious, they can’t give us proper emotional regulation and soothing. For example, they may get worried easily over each little child’s disease we have, and this makes things much worse because if our parent worries, we feel totally helpless and in terror. Perhaps that’s why you have the tendency to worry about your health excessively, because you’ve learned the pattern of excessive worry and there was no one there to calm you down and tell you that everything’s going to be fine?

    I wonder if you’ve experienced something like this in your childhood/youth?




    You are spot on about learning to worry about about health issues from a parent. I don’t blame myself for their anxiety, nor do I blame them. Unfortunately, I’m doing the same thing with my son. I’m aware of it and I try to keep it in control, but I fear I’ve instilled it in a him. He has different triggers than I do, and he’s not nearly as anxious as I, but I see it. 🙁



    You said “So I am guessing that an introverted empath needs to be around quieter, gentler,  joyful people and a slower more natural lifestyle to help them flourish?”  I feel that you are perfectly describing what I crave.

    I love my home, but when I’m there, I think of all of the things I “need” to get done. I have OCD so I have a big list of things that I want to organize (unless I complete them, they float around my head endlessly). I love my parent’s home, but I have a big family and there’s lots of stimulation. In my work, I’m either too busy or bored. Lately I haven’t have enough to keep me busy, which gives me time to think “I should be able to find a project, I wish I was home getting things done, etc” Spending time with friends is tough, because it always seems to revolve around food and I have Hystamine intolerance. It’s very difficult to eat correctly away from home. It tends to spike my anxiety – “How am I going to feel?” There is really only one place that brings me peace –

    My Mother-in-law lives in a little cottage by the lake. Visiting her is one of my favorite things to do – she’s very calm and loving and loves to laugh. her sun porch and backyard bring such peace to me, I feel like I’m away from it all. It’s hard to leave. In a way I feel like I’m driving away from heaven, back into hell (the real world). That may sound dramatic, but it’s how I feel.


    Dear Kodi

    I am glad that you do occasionally have access to a sanctuary. Now the trick is to create something similar at home, a sacred space can be as small as a niche on a bookshelf or as big as your own retreat hut in the garden. A person I know found the only place she could get away to was the toilet but she managed to put in a shelf that served as a mini altar.

    During lockdown I shared accommodation with my son & family i was suprised how quick they all got used to me doing my practices and my young grandson understands that “Buddha time” means that if he is in my space he sits quietly or he waits patiently else where for me to come and play with him when I & others are finished.

    I have never come across Hystamine intolerance what does that entail? One of my previous co workers had a reaction to bee products and it was amazing how many everyday items fell into this bracket.

    I wish you all the best in finding a peaceful & fulfilling life



    Dear Kodi,

    You are spot on about learning to worry about about health issues from a parent.

    Yeah, if our parents (or one of them) is a worrier, they can’t calm us down, but make us even more anxious. Because we as children are helpless and totally dependent on our parents. And so if our parent is worried and anxious, our anxiety goes through the roof. There is no way we can calm ourselves down – since we need them to do that for us.

    And this stays as a pattern, not just the mental pattern of catastrophizing and thinking the worst will happen, but also as hypervigilance in our autonomic nervous system. Our amygdala constantly firing and ringing the alarm bell, even if there is no danger at all.

    I very much relate to this, because my mother is a worrier too, not so much about health but about everything else, always thinking in negative terms. So I’ve learned to worry too, nowadays it’s primarily about my health, because I do have some health issues which objectively make my life difficult. But I see how sometimes I start catastrophizing over the slightest little pain that I have, and it fills me with terror. In those moments I feel like a helpless little child, believing that something terrible is going to happen and I will be doomed.

    Maybe you feel something similar when you start worrying about your son’s illness:

    Whenever my son gets a fever I freak out and am afraid he’s going to die. … I’m utterly exhausted from all the fear, frustration, anger, depression, irritability, guilt – basically every negative emotion you can have.

    Maybe when your son gets a fever, you start catastrophizing, and the alarm system in your brain (amygdala) starts going in overdrive and it spirals out of control. What helps me is to soothe myself in those moments, to tell myself that it’s going to be okay.

    Because what I’ve noticed is that I have 2 parts active in those moments: one is the anxious voice, who is thinking the worst thoughts and believing that the pain I am having means something serious and potentially irreversible. That’s the internalized voice of my anxious mother, telling me that I should be worrying. The other part is my inner child, who is listening to this anxious voice and is freaking out, because the child is helpless and depends on the mother’s protection. If the mother is worried and anxious, then of course the child is in utter terror. And that’s how I really feel in those moments, when the worry gets out of control.

    I’ve recently become aware of this mechanism, and so now when something happens, I tell myself that it’s going to be fine and not to worry. I am trying to soothe my inner child and be the calm, soothing parent to my inner child, rather than the anxious, catastrophizing parent. With that I am hopefully interrupting that automatic loop in my brain that activates the amygdala and gets me in the state of terror.

    Perhaps you could try something similar? Of course, various relaxation techniques might be helpful too. As well as creating that safe, calm space within your home, as Roberta suggested.

    Your mother-in-law (who you said is very calm and loving and loves to laugh) can be an anchor point for you as well, in the sense that not only you visit her regularly, but also, when you start worrying, you can imagine her telling you it’s going to be fine. So perhaps she can serve as that calming, soothing parental voice inside of your head, when your fear gets triggered.


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