For years I've heard that happiness is a choice. I've struggled with that idea for a long time, but for the last few years, this idea has gnawed at me. And I've finally figured out why it bothers me so much.
The Basics of Emotions & Why We Need Them
Why do we feel? And why do we feel so deeply and with a variety of emotions? For me, the simple truth is that we're supposed to. As humans, we are complex, and that explains why we can have complicated and complex emotions throughout life.
If something makes us upset, I think that's perfectly normal. If something makes us sad, that is fine. That's a part of the human experience. I believe it's OK to be angry, sad, overwhelmed. And It's OK to feel happy.
We are given emotions so that we can process the events around us and those things that happen to us and those we love.
But emotions also help us realize when something needs to change. If we are unhappy, angry, sad, or whatever, something is wrong. Something has bothered us. Something rocks us to our core. Something may have even broken us apart inside.
So what do you do with that emotion? How do you channel it?
The Facade of Happiness
Happiness exists. In its true form, it’s beautiful. I've known moments of real happiness, and I cherish those times. Am I happy all the time? No, definitely not. Do I need to be happy all the time? I don't believe so. I don't think life is supposed to be only made up of happy moments or happy feelings.
I'm not saying you shouldn't try to see the good in situations. I think that's a valuable skill to have. I'm not great at it, but I can definitely appreciate its value. If you can find the beauty in any situation, more power to you. I think that's wonderful.
The Need for Change
My problem isn't with happiness in general or even being a natural or learned positive person. I have a problem with faking happiness for the simple fact of faking it, to appease, to fool yourself, to not deal with the truth in front of you. That doesn't benefit anyone, not even yourself. You can fake an emotion all you want, but deep down inside, your true feelings are there waiting. And they will come out one way or another.
Let me keep this general for a little while longer. If you don't enjoy your work or how someone treats another person, perhaps you should take a moment to understand why you're upset about it. Or maybe you feel stuck in your life and you feel like you want to claw your way out by any means necessary. Whatever your specific situation, know that these aren't hopeless feelings. In fact, they can become quite the opposite.
Use that disappointment, anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety as fuel - fuel for change. Change your life. Change your circumstances. Change Yourself. Change your surroundings. Change the world.
Don't sit by and allow the facade of happiness fool you into complacency. Seek for real happiness, and sometimes that will mean changing yourself. But sometimes that means taking a stand, taking action, and making a difference.
Think about it. What if Rosa Parks pretended to be happy with the social inequalities of the time? Change would've never happened.
What if Martin Luther King, Jr. ignored the injustice around him because his anger or disappointment made others feel uncomfortable?
What if Mother Teresa decided that she could just pretend to be happy and ignore the sadness and suffering all over the world?
How It Applies to Writing
What do you want to do with your life? Do you feel the drive, the need to write? How about being published? How about just expressing yourself through the written word?
What makes you unhappy about your current life? Are you meeting your writing goals?
I can tell you that I'm not. A few days ago, I just wanted to give up again. Just wanted to accept my life as it is. I was giving up and giving in to broken dreams and unfulfilled hopes. And then I read this blog post from Mind the Dog Writing Blog about never giving up, and it gave me some hope back.
So what have you been putting off? Have you always wanted to write a book? Write it!
Have you always wanted to start a blog? Start it!
Do you want to learn a new style of writing? Learn it!
Do you want to share your writing with just one person? Don't wait. Share it.
What have you done to change your own life? What have you changed to work toward your own writing or life dreams?
Earlier this year, I went to a ANWA writing workshop (read the blog post about that here). It consisted of a four-hour class with author Janette Rallison, and then finished off with a writing critique group, led by Rallison.
During the class, Rallison handed out free copies of one of her books, My Fair Godmother. I'll never refuse a free book, but I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd like it that much. I love YA literature, but from what I understood about the book, it seemed a little too high school to me. I've never gotten into that genre, except maybe when I was an actual teenager.
But because I took the free book, I figured I should just get through it so I could leave a review and complete my end of things.
Within the first couple pages, I was hooked. The story was so much better than I expected. I loved how it wasn't completely set in the real world, and how there was a magical element. It incorporated classic fairy tales, and Rallison had a lot of great humor in there. In one word - fantastic. I couldn't wait to keep reading this book, and I was bummed whenever I had to stop.
Her story's concept is very clever, and definitely not what I expected. Think about it; what would happen if your fairy godmother was only an average student? What kind of trouble could you get into if she didn't ace her godmother classes or even pass her tests? I love that idea!
Here's what I learned. Not everyone has to like every genre, but you can't judge a genre if you've never read it. But most importantly, you can't judge a book by its genre.
I also realized that I have a lot I can learn from Rallison. She's a solid writer, and she knows what she's doing.
You can find her book here:
Every day I struggle with figuring out how to move forward with getting some of my books published. I've tried to get in through traditional publishing, but I haven't had success yet. I'm still not sure self-publishing is for me, but I like the idea of beta readers to help perfect a book. And that's how I'm using WattPad.
WattPad is a content-sharing site. It's free to post and to read the stories of others. If you like e-books and you like free, then this site is for you! I've had great feedback so far on my book, but I'm hoping to extend my reach a bit more to get additional feedback from readers.
I'm still undecided if I'll post the entire book for free on WattPad. I have a hard time giving up my dream of traditional publishing. Even so, I still have high hopes that WattPad can be a useful tool in improving my work and helping through the revision process.
A Little About My Book
The Belles-Lettres Curse is about a teenager whose family is cursed. On her eighteenth birthday, she is trapped inside a classic novel. To return home, she must make it through five classic books, finding the portal in each land before moving on. Gwendi's journey isn't about enjoying some of her favorite novels; it's to survive along the way.
Click here to start reading.
Another WattPad Book You Might Be Interested In
A writer-friend of mine, A.S. Creasey, has some of her book on WattPad, too. She's a fabulous writer. And she has a writing blog, too, and I just love her posts. Check out her blog here.
Here's the synopsis from her book:
"In a novel that asks readers to re-imagine the traditional beliefs regarding life, death, the afterlife, and our choices regarding these inevitables, the experiences of two families, the Donnoways and the Wilders, will become forever intertwined."
Click here to start reading.
If you haven't already, follow me on Instagram. While my Instagram account started out as dedicated to the writing journey, it has already morphed into something else. And because I believe that to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader, my Instagram account has been focusing on beautiful and inspiring books from my very own bookshelves.
You can find me here: https://www.instagram.com/charlene_the_writer/ or by clicking the social icons on the right.
Here are some of my favorite photos so far. Click on the thumbnails to see the larger photo.
This week, my coworker sent me this quote, and I found it incredibly interesting.
“You learn a lot about someone by what they put on their walls, even when they have very little. What we surround ourselves with usually showcases where we look for inspiration, beauty, and HOPE.” -Ruth Simons, GraceLaced blog
So that got me thinking about what I have on my walls and if my walls really represent what gives me inspiration and hope.
These are my walls, and I'm happy to say that these paintings and pictures do represent my inspiration. Every one of these items means something to me. I've adored Audrey Hepburn for a long time, and I love Europe. And, of course, there's the Mesa, Arizona temple, which is where my husband and I got married.
And see that picture of Jesus looking up at the night sky? One reason I love it is because looking up at the sky is one of my favorite things to do. Plus, my husband bought it for me and had it signed by the artist for Christmas after he saw me admiring it.
But after seeing this, I think I might need more writing inspiration than just one piece of artwork with a typewriter. But check back later for a post about how writers decorate their houses because that's where I'll redeem myself. :)
Take a moment and analyze what you have on your own walls. What does it say about you? Show me in the comments!
I'm an adjunct creative writing professor and freelance writer, but I dream of being a published novelist. This is my journey.