The Winter of my Discontent; on having negative emotions


Lately I am finding myself annoyed with our cultural tendency to shut down negative emotions. Or worse, pretend like they don’t exist. I feel like there is pressure to constantly be happy and positive all of the time, when sometimes being happy isn’t necessarily appropriate for the moment.

Ironically,  books and articles that touch on this very subject are crossing my path. What perfect timing!

And I am remembering that I have written about this before.

So I suppose this post is my annual reminder that it is totally OK and completely appropriate to have negative emotions. It is a process of the human condition. It is samsara.  In order to have happiness we must experience unhappiness. So when you are going through something that is not pleasant, embrace it. Just go with it. It is OK.

Currently I am kind of pissed off about the weather. It has snowed almost everyday for a month. I can’t drive my car because it is too icy and I haven’t been able to travel more than a 5 mile radius from my home for weeks. I have had to cancel a number of plans. Walking around outside on the skating rink we are calling streets is completely frightening. It sucks. This is my emotional response to the snow. Maybe yours is different. That is OK.  We are two different creatures who experience life in different ways. Both of our experiences are valid.

Also, in a week a narcissistic psychopath with the brain of a 12 year old will take the office of President of the United States. I am afraid. It is affecting my outlook and maybe even my mental health. This emotional response is appropriate and valid.

The idea that we are supposed to be happy and positive constantly, even when we don’t feel like it, is unhealthy. If you are happy be  happy. If you are sad, be sad. If you are pissed off at the world, be pissed off. Experiencing the negative feelings make the positive ones better and more authentic.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books that touches on this point well:

“Enjoyment is always greatest when you have enough contrast to measure it by.”

M. Wylie Blanchet, The Curve of Time


Thank you for reading my annual rant against winter. Back to your regularly scheduled photoblog. 🙂