Let's play a game really quick...
What's the opposite of big?
Little.What's the opposite of right?
(or left, if you think like I do).What's the opposite of tall?
Short.What's the opposite of happy?
Little is literally the absence of big-ness. Wrong is literally the absence of right-ness (or left-ness). And Short is literally the absence of tall-ness. However, the absence of happiness is not always sadness. So the opposite of happy, really, is unhappy - or the literal absence of happy. Unhappy is not synonymous with sad. Sometimes unhappy means angry, hurt, or just plain morose; hell it also just means, not feeling happy.
This fella and I played this game a couple days ago, in his efforts to express to me why he finds it annoying when people talk about how happy they feel so often. Because when you think about it, just because you're not sad, does not mean you're happy. And he made a valid point: are we really all walking around feeling happiness as often as we claim to me?
The writer in me (and also the emotional basket case), says no way. We are just lazy with our emotions, so we chunk our feelings together into happy, sad, and mad. What are we, three years old? We are lazy with how we feel; we don't stop and think about the actual emotion we're feeling, we just say we're happy/sad/mad and move on with it.
But, think about all of the times that you say I'm happy. What are you really feeling? Are you excited? Amorous? Enamored? Joyous? Are you proud? Are you mesmerized?
What exactly is happy, outside of the fact that happy is not sad? When I wake up next to someone after an awesome night together, I frequently think, I'm so happy right now. But what is it I am really feeling? Not plain old happy, that's for sure. I'm really feeling insatiable, sometimes excited, maybe a little ecstatic. Those words are so much more than happy, so much more energized. Those words describe an actual, real feeling. Those action and emotion packed words speak volumes to what I actually feel in that moment where I open my eyes and he's there, wrapped around me. You can write a story with those words. You can't write a story with I'm happy. At least not one anyone wants to read.
I have a tendency to hide from my own emotions. This is something I focus on, something I pay attention to, because expressing my emotions is something I believe is important in making me a better person with better relationships. I have finally moved beyond using I'm fine as a means of expressing that I'm upset; this was a truly irritating habit that I have finally kicked. It took years. When I am upset with someone, I am now able to say that, and can now express the hurt, anger, jealousy (my least favorite emotion ever) fairly well. I continue to focus on what my negative emotion really is in the moment, which has significantly reduced the amount of MAD I've felt in the past year. Because I know now that just because I want to yell, just because someone upset me, does not always mean I'm mad. Chances are, I am offended, wounded, or jealous.
But the same effort needs to be placed on my positive emotions as well. I can't always just say I'm happy. I'm not always just happy. And my true emotions should be the ones I am working to express. Think about it this way - how much more impact would you feel, if someone told you that you made them feel elated, as opposed to that you made them happy? Maybe it's the writing major in me, but the expressive words mean so much more. I would so much rather feel - and express - joy, thrill, or energy, than just basic happiness.
Unlike my friend, I would not go as far as to say happiness does not exist; I believe there are moments in which I do feel happy. But I do grasp his logic, in that I also cannot explain what it means to be happy. I can explain a feeling of calm, serenity, pleasure, excitement...but happy? What's that even mean? When you feel something that you can't describe, you probably need to do a little digging. Think about it. What are you really feeling? What emotion is actually running through your veins? And then express that. Feel it, show it, share it - be empowered by your emotions, don't hide behind them.
It just makes you a little more real, and a little more desirable, and a little more interesting, when you can truly express yourself.