True Happiness Concept: Why It Isn’t About Being Happy 24/7

The verdict on the concept of true happiness is down, and it isn’t about being on cloud nine or oozing with positivity all the time.


I’ve watched Inside Out with my kids (aged nine, seven and three) far more times than my fingers could count. But the realization it teaches me every time I see this film never gets old (and the way it makes me cry never fails!).

How many of us are just like overly optimistic, pixie-haired Joy in the movie who believes that for us to be happy, we have to boot Sadness out and fill every corner of our lives with happiness? I admit I am and that has been a never-ending source of frustration for me – not being able to retain that happy, positive feeling whatever circumstance comes my way.

Opportunities, it appears, abound as far and as near the eye can see: taking a walk in nature, meditating, being open and warmhearted, living mindfully – to human kindness as much as to the taste of melting chocolate on the tongue. — Marianna Pogosyan Ph.D.

Striving for a happy life by trying to be happy all the time doesn’t work. It’s rife with unrealism. If not this then, what could make a man truly happy?

The Concept Of True Happiness

Various studies concluded that the way we respond to our life’s experiences factor in our happiness more than the very events themselves. It means that feeling negative emotions like sadness, tension, and even anxiety for a short while doesn’t mean we can never attain happiness in longer terms.

When you’re going through something adverse, step back, look at the situation as if you’re seeing it from a bird’s-eye view, and identify what you have control over and what you do not. — Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC

One particular research showed that psychological flexibility – more commonly known as having a resilient character – is an essential key to achieving true happiness.

But what exactly is it?

Asian philosophies describe resiliency as “swaying with the wind as bamboos do.” Bamboos are giant, wood-like grasses common in tropical regions. These plants are the picture-perfect examples of mental flexibility in the way they bend with the wind yet never breaking. Accordingly, our bad experiences, like our good ones, shape us into who we are. However, we shouldn’t let them ravage us. We should be, like the bamboo, bent yet standing still tall after the winds have died down.

Growth In Pain

Scientifically-wise, research disclosed that how we act upon the adversities that come in our lives figure in our mental and emotional wellness. For example, by tolerating distress, we become more resilient and are open to more opportunities of changes such as new jobs and new avenues to overcome difficulties.

A negative attitude towards life is unlikely to take you anywhere. Instead, it may only amplify the negativity that prevails in your surroundings. — Jacqueline Pearce, MSEd, LMHC


The Takeaway

So, you see? The animated movie Inside Out got that right after all. Joy wanted to make her human – Riley – happy through positivity and optimism but these attempts ended in catastrophe. However, when she acknowledged Sadness as well as the other emotions (Anger, Fear, and Disgust) at play inside Riley’s head, the results were wellness, emotional balance, and a more profound sense of happiness.

We can never attain true happiness without knowing and acknowledging sadness or our other negative emotions.

Experts say the movie is an excellent avenue to explain to children how emotions and emotional balance work but I’ve never broached the subject with my brood. I don’t know if they realized the lessons they can pick up from the animation and I didn’t explain or comment anything to them besides answering the questions they throw at me.

“Let them be kids,” my mind says. “After all, there will come a time when they’ll be able to realize the lessons it imparts as you did.”